Spitfire on the Moon?

Feb 21 2010


We've all heard of the dangers of the press and how a true story can be twisted or misstated into something a mile away from reality.

As I've probably mentioned previously, we have tried very hard to keep Camille out of the press, turning away approaches from local papers and radio as well as offers from the government to do a pro-NHS story in the national press. It's difficult because we would love to get some coverage for the charity in print but we know the first question will always be “Who's Camille?” However, we are now getting to the stage where we need to get some Camille's Appeal press up and running, not only to try and increase our audience of potential donors but also to recruit people for events such as the Bungee Jump. This week we've taken the tentative steps towards doing something, our friend John is our go to person on this issue and he is taking our brief to a couple of media outlets to see how we can progress. We are extremely cautious as we don't want to make Camille the story. I am hoping to get some really positive press centred around the charity, but I'm prepared to pick and choose our moments; let's do some really original and exciting events that demand the kind of stories that we want to see.


Every other week I say that this was a chemotherapy week and on Tuesday we had to call the ward first thing to see if a bed was available for Camille to start chemotherapy. This week like most, a bed would be available for us, but not until twenty-one hundred hours, yes 9.00pm. So after dinner, Hayley packed Camille into the car and headed off on the hour long journey to Cambridge. It was actually nearer 10.30pm by the time Camille got to bed that night but as bed space is competitive on a specialist ward like that, there was little other choice.


The chemotherapy was only due to be a one day effort with Camille getting out early on Thursday morning so Hayley was primed to take the entire session with Camille. An hour or two before it was time to leave Camille spiked a temperature, meaning at least another 48 hours in hospital. I had a meeting that morning and also on Friday morning which meant that I was unable to swap with Hayley, to give her some time away from the hospital and some time with Lucia until Friday afternoon. She did manage the ultimate boredom of a hospital day pretty well and when I finally arrived on Friday afternoon I was surprised that she didn't sprint out of the ward like a leopard on heat.


As I walked in I was met with the sight of Camille asleep, now as a rule Camille does not sleep during the day as it means she will be a monkey to get off at night, but taking into account the temperature and the fact that she was post chemotherapy it was completely understandable. Sure enough, she was a monkey to get off that night. As I lay with her watching the Super-G (it's a type of slalom) on the BBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics, Camille was in full swing. I explained to her that she was watching skiers and they fall over and hurt themselves from time to time. From that point every nurse that visited our bay was told in no uncertain terms that the “skippers fall and hurt themselves”. Camille was really into it, and when I flicked the channel over to BBC One for the live episode of EastEnders she went freaking nuts. Pat Butcher took a dummy in the face, Ian Beale a foot in the nuts and Phil Mitchell was clawed at like an angry panther. She did calm down once the detective inspector appeared on screen, she has nothing but respect for the boys in blue.


Big John our press middleman popped into see Camille and I while we were on the ward and he had brought Camille and Lucia a teddy each and me a sack of chocolate raisins. I always find chocolate raisins a slight gamble to buy someone but John had chosen the bottomless pit as his beneficiary, and I was unlikely to turn anything down that was chocolate covered even if they did look a little like “bunny currants”. John and I were discussing how best to contact celebrities for future auction items. The standard approach would be to write a letter to their official address where normally a fierce looking assistant would take a signed photo from the top of the mile high stack and post it back to you. I have taken a little less standard approach to this and gone with the “ethical stalker” theory after stumbling across a website that gives you the exact co-ordinates of celebrity's home addresses. Just think, no secretary to block the letter, guaranteed they will see the letter and only a small risk of a court injunction. So we're currently putting together a great letter and a great list of celebrities we want to attract and just in case you wondered, the only person to have a helicopter pad is Sir Paul McCartney, although Gordon Ramsay has a trampoline that could probably double up.


We also had a marvellous bit of news this week regarding charity auction items. A few weeks ago I had e-mail Sarah Brown (through Gordon's team) to see whether she would be willing to help us court celebrities and earlier in the week I got confirmation from Number 10 that she is on board. Say what you like but ever since we sent Gordon Brown a letter showing our appreciation for the NHS, the team at Downing Street have gone out of their way to help us.


Life is never simple, so we were not surprised when Camille spiked again on Friday afternoon. The hospital will not let you go until the temperature has been normal for 48 hours, so we new best case scenario would be a Sunday afternoon release. Hayley had her day at home with Lucia on Saturday and took her to see the new Disney film Princess and the Frog. We were all supposed to go to an ABBA tribute night in my home town on Saturday night to raise money for the ward at Bury St Edmunds hospital, but with Camille still on the ward and me in desperate need of a good scrub we had to miss out. Instead I sang Dancing Queen all the way back to Ipswich just to give Lucia the feeling that she was actually there, I even added to the effect of disco lights by flicking my headlights on and off in a haphazard fashion.


Camille was home at 2.00pm this afternoon, by 3.00pm we were back in Ipswich hospital. Camille had been sick in that space of an hour and along with a copious amount of vomit, out came her NG tube. So a quick visit to the assessment unit, a new tube inserted through her nostril, a quick gag, a brief scream, a self confession that she was “vewy bwave” and a hop skip and a jump back to the car and we were home again.


Camille is still doing remarkably well, although the few days in hospital has again knocked her confidence to walk by herself, we're hoping that she will get back on the horse over the next few days.