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Friday 7 December 2012

Australian DJs Causing Suicides

Regular readers will know that I love it when people who are as mad as spoons start sending death threats to people in the media. However, in this case, it isn't the Liverpool supporters threatening to decapitate somebody and do a poo down their exposed gullet for saying the Hillsborough single (which is called "He Ain't Heavy", so is presumably not a ballad about Steven Gerrard) is fucking dreadful (I haven't heard it, but I feel fairly confident that I can say it's dreadful without actually listening to it - everybody knows charity records suck, though I suspect it might be intentional... If the songs were actually good people would download them illegally and they'd never raise any money).

This time, it is a bunch of other people who I can't seem to find a cohesive group name for other than just, you know, "nutters", threatening some Australian DJs because they made some poor woman top herself.

So this is the story. Aussie DJs Mel Grieg and Michael Christian (Mel Grieg is a lady Mel, like Mel C sort of is, ish, rather than a male Mel like Mel Gibson sort of is, ish) do one of those radio shows where they make the odd prank phone call for comedy purposes. They phoned up the King Edward VII hospital where Kate Middleton (oh, I know you're supposed to call her the Duchess of Cambridge but nobody fucking does, just like nobody calls the guy made of sewn together corpses Frankenstein's Monster) was being treated for, I don't know, the vapours or whatever, pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles.

Now, on account of how they are comedy DJs rather than insidious hardcore journalists, they didn't go to any real lengths to be convincing as the Queen and the Prince of Wales, instead going more for, well, comedy. They spoke with dodgy, comedy English Royalty style accents, and even had their mate (let's call him Bruce) barking in the background, pretending to be a corgi. Mel Grieg was not exactly giving it the full Helen Mirren as Her Maj, referring to Kate as her "granddaughter" (rather than as "K-Middy", which is what the real Queen would have called her). All in all it is quite clear that they were just planning to have a bit of a laugh until whoever answered twigged that it was a wind up and shouted at them. That being the usual format of that kind of bit.

Things didn't go to plan. The phone call was answered by a nurse called Jacintha Saldhana, who was on reception at the time. Rather than joining in the reindeer games and doing what Greig and Christian were probably expecting - getting comically irate at them for wasting her time - she treated the call as genuine and put it through to another nurse who was involved in treating Kate Middleton, who as we all know, is pregnant with the world's first human baby. This was kind of dumb, but fuck it, if I was a nurse working my arse off looking after posh women with a bit of morning sickness I doubt I'd be that bothered with playing gatekeeper, as if I was a corporate receptionist dealing with people wanting to sell my boss toner cartridges. Fuck all that, just bang them through.

At this point, Grieg and Christian must have been thinking "awesome, let's see how far we can go with this!" - these sorts of calls so rarely pay off with anything much but when they do it is often comedy gold. So they spoke to the nurse, who they also somehow duped, and who unexpectedly revealed all sorts of details about Kate's condition. Kate, apparently, was fine, by the way.

And that was that. All rather embarrassing for the hospital, and a bit worrying in terms of, well, if a couple of Australian clowns doing a bit on a radio show can get that kind of information, what could someone who was actually trying find out? In a world where journalists tap phones... But still, no harm, no foul.

Until Jacintha Saldhana was found dead, that is. Now, Saldhana was just the first person they spoke to who put them through to the Duchess' nurse. She didn't reveal anything she shouldn't have, and her role in the whole thing was relatively minor. But she committed suicide, we are told, and obviously this was because of the prank call and therefore Michael Christian and Mel Grieg are worse versions of Hitler and should be tarred and feathered.

Please people, let's think about this rationally. Would a mother of two off herself at Christmas time because she'd made a minor cock up at work that had lead to some personal but not very interesting or scandalous information about Kate bloody Middleton being revealed on Australian radio? This isn't Japan in the time of the Samurai, where people commit ritual suicide for bringing shame upon the hospital where they work or dishonoring the emporer's son's daughter in law. In reality, the tragic suicide of Jacintha Saldhana was probably the result of other, much more personal issues - perhaps the kind of issues that might distract a person and make them drop the ball a bit at work...

You can't blame Michael Christian and Mel Grieg, or the radio station they work for, for this turn of events.  They have been taken off the air for a while, which is probably for the best while this blows over, but any more serious repercussions than that don't make sense.