The Witch Doctor was once the object of a media hoax.
It was quite funny really, especially since she didn’t completely fall for it …… well at least not after the first few minutes.
It happened a few years ago so her memory is a bit fuzzy about the details but here is what happened (roughly):
The Witch Doctor was at home one day busying herself in The Spell Pantry.
The phone rang. It was a male and he asked for The Witch Doctor by name.
He said he was in the area and wanted to check she was at home since he had a large delivery for her.
“What kind of large delivery?”
Yes I’ve got fish for you. You’ll need to meet me at the gate and tell me where to unload it.
“I’m not expecting fish. I haven’t ordered any.”
“ You must have done, or somebody else has ordered it for you. I have a lorry load of fish for you” – He gave WDs name and address.
A LORRY load of fish!
“Where are you now?”
“Just entering your road. If you go to the window, you’ll see my lorry approaching.”
The Witch, always curious about the inhabitants of the sea, walked over to the window. Perhaps it was rations My Black Cat planned to hoard in anticipation of the fish-unfriendly frozen seas of another ice age?
“I can’t see a lorry….”
“Go out into the street and you’ll see me then.”
Then it dawned!
“No, I’m not going out into the street. Who are you? This is a spoof! There is no lorry and there are no fish!”
It was indeed a spoof. The man then came clean told me who he was.
I can’t remember who he was.
He seemed surprised that The Witch Doctor had neither heard of him nor his (apparently well-known) radio programme.
However, we had a laugh and ended on good terms.
The Witch Doctor contacted some of The Witch Children and told them what happened. Being of a different generation, they knew the “lorry driver’s name” and his radio programme, and they too had a good laugh. They denied all knowledge of the trick.
The Witch Doctor never did hear her recorded telephone voice on the radio programme but the following week several junior colleagues told her they had heard her performance and had had a good laugh. We then all laughed together. Nowadays you might call it ROLF, but not then. The Witch Doctor never found out if some of the hospital staff were responsible for that peculiar episode in her life.
All this was long forgotten but came to mind again following The Hoax played by two Australian disc jockeys (or rather their employers) when the Duchess of Cambridge was in hospital recently.
Nowadays, The Witch Doctor considers her own home to be her castle – and a very private castle too. Nowadays she would consider that fishy phone call to be an intrusion, just like all the other intrusive selling, conning, gathering information phone calls that now infiltrate homes up and down the country several times a day.
Nowadays this witch can be very, very off-putting to unsolicited phone callers in a way that only a witch can be.
She has been thinking about intrusive phone hoaxes even more when the tragic consequences came to light that one of the nurses in the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was a patient, was taken in by a spoof phone call mimicking the Queen. Soon afterwards the nurse concerned was found dead at home – presumed suicide.
The whole world knew about the fact this nurse had been duped and moreover her voice was broadcast everywhere. The spoof must have become an immense burden to her. Perhaps she had many more burdens in life. Perhaps the worry and humiliation it caused her was just the last straw. We cannot know these things. The burdens people carry are not obvious. How people who are unprepared for it react to global media coverage cannot be easily predicted. In this circumstance, the telephone became a lethal weapon.
What happened was not a hoax. It was a shocking invasion of privacy. An errant media company should not have put a nurse or patient in such a situation. Their lawyers should not have approved it. After all, a woman had symptoms worrying enough to require admission to hospital in the early stages of pregnancy. She was a patient. She would have been feeling very ill and worried. The fact she would likely become Queen at some time in the future was only relevant in the sense that such media intrusions should have been anticipated and the hospital concerned should have had rigorous procedures in place that would have made such an encounter impossible. Patients are quite simply – patients. None of us had the right to know the details of this very private matter and yet the world thought it was OK to gather around the hospital doors either in real life or on TV gawping and gasping expectantly for every morsel of new information regarding The Duchess of Cambridge’s early pregnancy. There was, perhaps understandably, premature interest in the succession, but the curiosity went much further than that.
Patients, all patients, should have their privacy protected. Diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis are private affairs mainly between the patient and their doctors and those other professionals very closely involved in treating them. If the Palace chooses to deal with the matter by publishing carefully worded bulletins, then that is their affair and that should be enough to satisfy the media and the rest of us.
Sadly, illness has become a spectacle for the voyeurs in society.
And it’s not just the illnesses of future Kings and Queens.
They’ll call it “transparency” of course.
a red apple ……………………
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