If you’re looking for attention, you should write a column about scabies. I know by now how much response you usually get to a column and I can already conclude that my peak as a columnist is now behind me.
The media have run with the fact that scabies is on the rise in the Netherlands. So I got a call from a journalist from the TV news programme RTL Nieuws who had come across my column. Apparently Resource is read more widely than just in Wageningen. He had called a lot of people, but no one was prepared to appear on television as a scurvy sufferer. ‘You wrote in your column that the taboo should be lifted, so I’m pinning my hopes on you.’ There wasn’t much I could say to that, of course. A camera crew came calling the very next day, and the item was broadcast the same evening. The whole country is familiar with our sofa now. Two days later, the current affairs programme Nieuwsuur called. I was filmed again and that same evening I was on the programme – with our sofa – as ‘Mrs Scabies’. This time a student was featured too, filmed anonymously. There was more media coverage of scabies for the rest of that week, including on the talk show Op1. The presenter said they couldn’t find anyone willing to go on air, so the only guest was a GP. This did give me pause: am I the only one crazy enough to just appear on television using my own name and talk about what it’s like to have scabies?
Fortunately, people in my social circle have reacted very nicely. Friends and strangers alike have come up to me. ‘Good move! Nice sofa you’ve got!’ No one flinched ‘Oh, there she comes with her scabies’. Someone wrote: ‘It must feel good to have raised an important issue.
That same evening I was on the programme – with our sofa – as Mrs Scabies
Although you might have taken, say, world peace rather than scabies.’ I wrote back: ‘I thought I’d start with something small.’ He concluded: ‘Wise. World peace is more of a Christmas thing, anyway.’
Sjoukje Osinga (55) is an assistant professor in Information Technology. She sings alto in the Wageningen chamber choir Musica Vocale, has three sons at university and enjoys birdwatching with her husband in the Binnenveldse Hooilanden.