Sunday, February 05, 2006

How I became a celebrity - part I

Dear Reader

It is true to say that I have been labelled, by various sources, as a celebrity. Believe me when I say that I did not bestow this moniker on myself, but rather it came to me by way of no other reason than I was doing my job. I am not one of those people who sought to become famous, nor do I widely advertise the fact that I have become somewhat elevated beyond the usual media positioning of scientists (with some notable exceptions of course, Lord W).

So, in the spirit of this blog, I hereby present you with the story of how I became the world's first celebrity parasitologist......

It all began about four years ago, when I was still in my university position and preparing to spend the rest of my days confined to relative obscurity. Others around me were carrying on as normal when one day I received a phone call from someone representing an independent production company that specialised in reality television programmes. I remember quite clearly that I was somewhat dubious of the person's credentials, and had to be directed to a website with their details before I was convinced. Anyway, it emerged after several minutes of conversation that this company were planning to take several men and women well known to the British public into a jungle somewhere in South East Asia and put them through a series of tasks designed to test their metal. It sounded somwhat similar to other such programs you might have seen, and I questioned whether this was an original piece of programming or simply a copy using inferior celebrities, to which the answer was 'for confidentiality reasons I can't reveal any more at the moment'

I wondered briefly if they were going to ask me to take part, but my fears were allayed when the researcher told me that they just wanted a scientific adviser with knowledge of potential biological hazards in the area. They had found my name on several papers with data collected in Papua New Guinea and come to the conclusion that I could be useful. Well, it just so happened that I was hoping to mount an parasite-gathering expedition to PNG that summer, and I really couldn't think of a better way to obtain funding. So after a few hours of negotiation I finally agreed. The stipend wasn't fantastic, but I did have a promise that I could spend some of my time collecting specimens. All they really wanted me to do was to stand by the set, advising on what the celebrities could or could not eat and what hidden dangers may be lurking in the jungle. Piece of cake, I thought.

Ten weeks later I was taken to Heathrow by limo and put on a plane to Brisbane. There, I met the small production team who all seemed quite relieved when I was introduced. We had a briefing session in a local hotel, where I learnt that the production was already having financial troubles and two of the celebrities had pulled out. The identities of the remaining five were revealed to me, but to be honest I didn't know any of them. There was a female singer from a 1960's folk band, an ex judo-champion from Cumbria, the wife of a long-forgotten MP, a male newsreader from a local Welsh TV station, and a business entrepreneur who had made his fortune selling those magazines that come with (very small) bits of model cars each week. All of them had declared themselves fit and able for the tasks in hand. Their mean age was 58. One of them had a glass eye, two of them were allergic to peanuts, and none of them had been in the jungle before. The title of this programme - well, it wasn't entirely a copy of previous jungle-survival-celebrity type programmes. No, this one was way down the ladder. They had called it 'Celebrity Jungle Love Island Extreme - return to Irin Jaya'

It made me wince just to think about what these poor people were about to be put through.....

******** TO BE CONTINUED *********


Gorilla Bananas said...

You're nuts. You should pay a visit to the blog of Dr Maroon, your fellow Scot.
Cape to Rio

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

If you think I'm a bit loopy, you should maybe check out your own e-reflection, my adventurous friend. The clan McCrumble welcomes you, and wishes you good speed on your perilous journey.