The day after my trip to Parliament – 18th October – I went to USP Studios to spend a few hours chatting to a number of radio stations about psoriasis and the See Psoriasis, Look Deeper campaign. It wasn’t just me, as they need some people who actually knew what they were talking about to contribute to the discussion, so Helen McAteer from the Psoriasis Association and Simon Lawton-Smith from the Mental Health Foundation were there to lend a factually correct assessment of the condition and its ties to the sufferer’s psychology, whilst I moaned about the disease and repeated the same anecdotes like a boring actor plugging his tedious autobiography.
I was very impressed with how intelligently the subject was handled by our interviewers. Some were live (the interviews that is, as far as I am aware, all of the interviewers were live: the undead are one of the many groups under-represented in today’s hegemonised media) and some were pre-records to go out later: some used all of us, some wisely dispensed with my services and relied solely on Helen, and a couple of foolhardy souls (BBC Radio Manchester and the syndicated Ed Stagg Show which goes out over a number of BBC Midlands services) just used me.
One notable thing that came up was that when we were doing our first interview, the interviewer was asked not to say that people “suffer from” psoriasis, which is what he had written down on his scripted intro. As it happens, during the taped discussion, he did indeed introduce me as someone who “suffers from” psoriasis, and had to do a retake at the end. Simon took the opportunity to ask me what my take on this semantic issue was, and I said quite bluntly that I “couldn’t give a f*** how people describe it” which immediately made me realise how people in my line of work are quicker to swear than people with proper jobs. But it’s true: the interviewer wasn’t being derogatory or pejorative; he was describing a patient with an illness. I didn’t take offence at the implication that I suffer. Why? Because there are issues of import around this disease that are far more pressing than pernickety verbal scrutiny. I know what he meant, and I answered accordingly. If someone says something deliberately hurtful about my physical appearance I will take offence, but not if someone who uses a description without using the vocabulary-de-jour. Who cares? And I know that the people who have decided we must not say “suffer from” have the best of intentions too, but let’s not get diverted by the, frankly, unimportant issue of how exactly it should be described.
I will be linking to a few of the interviews here, but it will take some time as I have to host them on You Tube and doing so involves putting them together on my wife’s Mac which is as slow as an East Coast train from London to Newcastle when there’s a slight breeze and it has rained in the past three hundred and fifty years. The links below will be green when the pieces are ready:
BBC East Midlands Syndicated (me and Ed Stagg – a long interview this, 21 minutes)