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.
There’s a few problems here.
- 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.
- It has always been a NIGHT competition.
- The final game has always been played at Waverley Park (up until that ground was demolished for housing), not at the MCG.
- In 1994 the night Grand Final was played between Essendon and Adelaide.
- 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?