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March 16th 2009 print

Michael Connor

Simon sells “Kisses”

Simon’s new job with Cripes is certainly not a dead end job and provides a matchless insight into the ethics and practice of journalism. Sort of.

Tracey was in a good mood the other day. Simon, the novelist, has started paying her rent for the granny flat he lives in at the back of her house. I knew he had a new job with Cripes but didn’t think he was making that much money.

It’s not his job, said Tracey, and anyway they are going broke (which I don’t believe). It’s his medical condition. She was talking about his irritable bowel syndrome. He’s turned it into a business. I didn’t quite get this, so Tracey explained – slowly.

When Simon started with Cripes he found that all, or nearly all, of his new workmates, suffered from the same condition. I guess it must be something about online journalism. All those hours watching reruns of Media Watch can’t be good for you.

Anyway, Simon told Tracey. Tracey mentioned this to her partner Bruce. Bruce mentioned it in conversation to his dealer. His dealer was very interested.

It seems there is a traditional North Korean remedy for irritable bowel syndrome. With his multicultural contacts Bruce’s dealer emailed an order and collected the necessary items when he next went out in his cabin cruiser to collect supplies from the North Korean mother ship.

Now Simon is acting as a medical commission agent for Bruce’s dealer. And doing very well indeed. The items (they call them the “Kim Il-sungs” or “Kisses,” said Tracey) come in three sizes called Blue Ice, Pink Ladies and Big Reds. They’re named after the Great Leader’s favourite cocktails.

I strained to imagine the Cripes staff sitting around at morning tea and lighting up different sized joints. So Big Reds are like cigars for irritable bowel syndrome? I said.

Tracey gave me that look and explained that “Kisses” aren’t smoked – they are otherwise ingested. Then I got it. Nil by mouth? I said. Nil by mouth, she said. The picture was much, much clearer. So I thought of other things.

The funny thing, said Tracey, is that it shows. If you look at Cripes you can tell from the writing who is on Blue Ice (dull and ordinary), Naked Ladies (normal foaming at the mouth), or Big Reds (Whoa!).

I thought this was a bit far fetched and a slur on the reputation of online journalists. Then I got home and Googled Cripes.

It’s all true.