Life Imitates Art … Nineteen Years Ago

Philistine Press’s first (and so far only) humour title is David Hailwood and FJ Riley’s Not a Lot of People Know That, a collection of “facts,” invented by the authors.  It’s a simple premise: it’s a book of facts, and they’re all made up. 

FJ Riley mentioned to me that putting together a book of this nature is almost the exact opposite of writing non-fiction.  In a non-fiction book you often need to go to great lengths to ensure your information is accurate before publishing.  With Not a Lot of People Know That, Hailwood and Riley needed to double check that none of their made up facts turned out to be true. 

Luckily for them, most of the facts in the book are unlikely to be reflected in reality.  Spookily, however, a recent news story bears an uncanny resemblance to one particular part of the book. 

First of all, this is Hailwood and Riley’s “fact”:

“The first surgeon ever to be simultaneously charged with both “gross malpractice” and “graffiti” is a Mr Igor Skelton of Berlin, who in 1995, was found guilty of inscribing messages on patients’ internal organs.  Skelton’s numerous acts of vandalism are alleged to have taken place over the course of fifteen years, during which time he created many secret inscriptions, mainly intended as insults against various colleagues. 

Skelton was eventually found guilty after a former patient’s kidney was donated to medical research.  On the kidney’s arrival at a nearby institute, students were horrified to discover the words “Doctor Heinz is a knob, 100% true” written across the organ. 

In a public statement shortly after the event, Doctor Heinz, M.D. categorically stated that he was “not a knob.”


Now consider this news story from the London Evening Standard on January 14th (and yes, this really is a genuine news story):

“A hair transplant patient told today how a London doctor left a swear word branded on his head 19 years ago.

Darren Hope, 40, discovered “wanker” had been etched onto his scalp when he shaved his hair almost two decades after the procedure.

He claimed the surgeon left two-inch-high capital letters in the back of his head by removing tiny hair roots.  Friends discovered it when he took his cap off during a cricket match.

Mr Hope of Nuneaton, Warwickshire, had the operation done in the capital when he was 21.

He said: “It is about five inches long – I can’t believe I never knew.  I’d love to sue, but the clinic has closed down.”

The electrician has been told the word will remain there for the rest of his life.  “I’ll have to keep my hair long,” he said.”

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