Dear Mark Seymour….

I’m a reader. A big reader. Despite moving overseas in just over a month ann trying to downsize our possessions my To Be Read pile is uninspiring. There’s books that I SHOULD read, but none I WANTED to read. So, last week I took myself off to a few local Op Shops in the hope of reinvigorating my TBR pile.

Fate was on my side as in my very first shop I picked up a copy of Mark Seymour’s account of his time as lead singer of Australian rock band Hunters & Collectors, Thirteen Tonne Theory.  This book had been at the very top of my To Buy list, so I was completely and utterly thrilled to find it!

It was an interesting read.  I learnt quite a lot, mainly that Mark Seymour is a bit of a grumpy shit.

And also that he doesn’t care a great deal for facts, which as this was a memoir and not fiction bothered me a great deal.

Whilst anyone’s memoirs are just the writer’s version of the truth and not, necessarily, the real truth, I do think that the writer has a certain responsibility to stick to certain hard facts.

The chapter that rattled me is entitled “Focus on the Money”. It recounts the band’s daytime performance as the  pre-match entertainment for the Winfield Cup (which is the AFL pre-season competition) at the MCG in 1994.  The game was between Carlton and the Western Bulldogs, and afterwards Seymour did a radio interview with Eddie McGuire and Sam Newman during MMM’s football broadcast.

Hmmm….

There’s a few problems here.

  1. The AFL pre-season competition has NEVER been sponsored by Winfield (although the NRL competition was). In 1994 it was sponsored by the now-defunct Australian domestic airline Ansett.
  2. It has always been a NIGHT competition.
  3. The final game has always been played at Waverley Park (up until that ground was demolished for housing), not at the MCG.
  4. In 1994 the night Grand Final was played between Essendon and Adelaide.
  5. MMM did not start broadcasting football until 1997.

How do such blatant inaccuracies get through the editing process? Does it matter?  Should we really not let the truth get in the way of a good story?

I’d say yes, it does matter as it interferes with my enjoyment of the book. I start to doubt the authority of the author and begin to question how true the rest of it is. Did Mark Seymour really not talk to certain bandmates for over a year, despite touring around Australia with them?  Did their UK record deal in the early-80’s really go to hell after an off-the-cuff remark in a London curry house?

Your thoughts?

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5 thoughts on “Dear Mark Seymour….

  1. Ahhhh! I love Mark Seymour and my head is reeling at these inaccuracies! Anyone who followed AFL during the 90s would have spotted the Winfield inaccuracy at the bare minimum.

    I’m like you KJ, once I know someone’s been untruthful (either on purpose or from sheer laziness) I suspect every other thing that comes out of their mouth. It’s like having someone to visit and then finding out they have gastro – you instantly suspect everything they’ve touched in your home. The whole experience is tainted 😦

    • It was the Winfield Cup bit that prompted me to check the rest of the details in that chapter. If it had been Ansett Cup I wouldn’t have bothered, especially given my football apathy. The irony is that Google is telling me that H&C played at the 1996 Ansett Cup Grand Final, which my husband umpired. So i must’ve attended but I have no memory of it. At all. Maybe that’s because I usually had my head in a book instead of watching the game? See. Football apathy!

      (If I hadn’t already packed the 20 million video tapes of my husbands glory days I’d dig out the video of the match and check.)

      And, just for the record, we chose “Throw Your Arms Around Me” for your bridal shuffle…erm..waltz!

  2. You should write to the publishers. This is outrage, heresy. How could they? Much better to stick to fiction I feel.
    To my complete shame I have still not read a single classic although I have finally finished lovely After The Fall and am nearly finished Happily Ever After?
    Is quite interesting and bizzare reading books by people you have met (virtually and/or IRL). Gives whole new dimension to the experience.
    Now that I have the move over I am feeling optimistic that I will be able to get into reading again in a big way – something that has been sadly neglected of late.

    • I don’t think I should bother Penguin Books, after the desperate Twitter begging I did for a copy of Paul Kelly’s book! (For the record, I got 2 books and met the great man).
      Yes, it is weird to read books by someone you ‘know’. Although I thin because I had only ‘read’ Kylie Ladd’s tweets it was less weird than actually knowing her.
      Classics. I was all fired up after Gatsby so I launched into A Room With A View but my classics attention span faded……

  3. More patience than me… I’d have been so annoyed I’d have turfed it.. But then how do you do that to a ‘so called hero’ from your, ahem, youth..
    Actually.. I think you’ve been insulted as a reader.
    A reader who reveres the book.. The words.. Their blending .. The topic… And it sings your song.
    This book hit every note off the scale & was flat.
    Sorry about this disappointment!!

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