Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Setting the Record Straight – Fact? Or Fiction?

I have been somewhat pre-occupied over the past few weeks, and I must confess at times I have felt very low, both in energy and in spirit. I have some major changes in my life happening, which have required a great deal of time to consider and decide what to do for the best. It’s on a par with my marriage to my husband, the birth of our children and the unexpected death of my father. Even the book I finished last night (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows) dealt with the subject of massive changes, and the author herself (Mary Ann) sadly passed away just before finishing the book. Let's just say, for the Collinge family, things will never be the same ever again and I am nervous, excited and filled with trepidation. What a combination! When these changes have happened I shall doubtless enlighten you, but on to matters more mundane......

I wanted to talk to you about The Sun – not our dearly beloved Sun which illuminates and warms this planet of ours giving us all the ability to exist. That said, I could really do with a light box to help me through these dark winter months, but I digress. In fact I’ve even managed to do a Ronnie Corbett on you before I’ve even started the story! Now, where was I? Ah yes, here we go……

Insulted, flattered or highly amused? I received an offer from a magazine to sell an exclusive story which was reported before Christmas by one of the British tabloid newspapers. As you have probably gathered by now, I am talking about that beloved English institution The Sun newspaper. Now I don't habitually read The Sun, in fact I’ve never ever purchased it, but then again I've never regularly subscribed to any of our national papers, regardless of whether tabloid or broadsheet. I guess I ought to really being the granddaughter of an author and journalist. But I have always been a bit sceptical of sensationalist strap lines and would much rather hear news of worth from the BBC as it happens.

To give you some background, I was approached by Parkinson’s UK to be a local advocate on the benefits of the wii fit and maintaining mobility, which I was happy to do. A reporter from the local Gazette and Herald came and interviewed me, pictures were taken, and they duly ran the article. This was followed up a few days later with contact being made by The South West News Agency, who interviewed me over the phone, and promised faithfully they would let me know who they had “pushed” the story out to – never to be heard from again! A week later, I received a call from Parkinson’s UK informing me that Channel 5 wanted to interview me for their prime time 5 o’clock news bulletin as they had seen my story in The Sun. My response was “What story in The Sun” – I was totally and utterly oblivious to the fact that a journalist from the paper had picked up the story from the news agency, and had effectively put his own spin on the story. Naturally I was straight on The Sun's web site and found to my amazement, and amusement, that a spectacular cure for Parkinson’s had been found with the headline “Banker stopped Parkinson’s by playing on wii" and the claim that I had told of an amazing “cure”.

Is that story Fact? Or is it Fiction?

Well, here are the Facts for the wonderful journo who ran that story……..

  •  Much as I would like to have been, I am not a high flying banker just a decent hard working business process analyst who has 23 years loyal service for the bank with a black horse

  • There is no cure for Parkinson’s. One day there will be of that I am sure. Just not today, and I apologise if readers expectations were falsely raised by the Journalist who ran the story. 

I will leave it up to you to decide which bits of the article in The Sun were Fiction!

And as for the offer by the magazine to “sell” my story – well, I felt there was nothing to sell. The facts are there for all to see, and I turned the magazine down. Unable to sleep one night just before Christmas, I decided to “google” my name, only to find numerous links to a more accurate version of this  story, as well as an in-depth discussion on a Japanese web-site about The Sun article. The majority of the contributors saw the story for what it was, and the majority were supportive, not just of me, but all those with young-onset Parkinson’s, or any mobility issue.

Which leaves me wondering, what on earth would my Grandfather would have made of all this?

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