The Odour of Fish

…and the uses of salt

"File:Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit District Six Museum 03.jpg" by eNCA on YouTube is licensed under CC BY 3.0

As one who worked in journalism for quite a few years, I have a fairly sceptical view of what gets printed and broadcast. Of the way stories appear at convenient moments. Of interested parties imparting a favourable spin to facts which might bear other interpretations. 

One of a journalists jobs ought to be to point out when these things happen, and to perhaps suggest other ways those facts might be interpreted. Don’t take things at face value: always add a pinch of salt.


Take, for example, the story that Meghan Markle allegedly “bullied” a couple of staff members at Kensington Palace. Mighty convenient that this turns up just before the Big Oprah Interview, no?

Is it not at least within the bounds of possibility that Markle might have found the attitudes of some palace staff snobbish, patronising and condescending towards a ‘newbie’, an American, and a person of colour? And decided, quite rightly, that she was having none of it?

If the old Mrs Beeton recipe of “take two servants and beat lightly” fails to work, and the Oprah thing goes really badly for The Family, I can see the Duke of Edinburgh being encouraged to keel over quick smart.  Next to a royal wedding, nothing gobbles up oceans of ink and hours of airtime like the death of a “much loved” royal.


The Christian Porter story is another one that reeks of attempted management. I have a word of advice for him. As it stands your efforts have a decidedly piscine whiff: beat a path to Oprah’s couch, confess all, and receive a through salting.

On the subject of what we might call ‘youthful misdemeanours’, I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember everything I was doing in the bedroom department back in 1988. Not least because I was usually off my head half the time. 

For example, I have a dim distant recollection of once going home with an eyeshadow-wearing leather queen, and waking up the next morning naked on a fireside rug, cuddling an Old English Sheepdog, but I haven’t the faintest idea what happened in between.

Perhaps hypnosis would recover the memories, if they were ever laid down in the first place, I don’t know. I’m not planning to try. But this might be one way to square the “he said, she said” circle in which Christian Porter appears trapped: his psychiatrist could try regression hypnosis and see what surfaces?


And finally, there is a story that’s been troubling me for some time now. On the surface, it’s a straightforward Far North Queensland tragedy: a ‘top bloke’, keen fisherman, out on his boat, puts the tinnie in the water, goes fishing, and is tragically attacked and killed, not by one croc, but two. Cue outrage, calls for crocodile culling, much angry bloviating about how we are no longer safe in ‘our’ waterways, ‘our’ lakes and ‘our’ ocean.

‘If this can happen to such an expert fisherman, with years of experience, wise in the ways of crocs,’ the story continues, ‘then none of us are safe.’

Pardon? That such a person would climb out of their big boat into a little tinnie, and row, alone, into an area of known crocodile habitat, to catch fish and pile them into his fragile little craft… surely such a man must have known full well he was putting himself into danger? 

Ah well, the old hands say, at least he died doing what he loved. Actually, I very much doubt he loved being chewed to death by a couple of large crocs, but we’ll let that pass.

Then I read that he was old and ill, with incurable terminal cancer, but ‘determined to live life to the full’, and I wonder. Did his illness and treatment cloud his judgement? Or did he know perfectly well what he was doing?


So, as the royals and their minions continue to slime Markle, as Porter continues to play ‘the wronged man’, trying to turn himself into a victim, as politicians and developers demonise crocodiles, beware. Always ask: where is this coming from? Why now? Who’s wants you to believe this tale? Who profits? 

And apply generous pinches of salt.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)