For those of you who don’t know, I have a clone. For the second time, Bahrain’s exemplary contribution to global journalism, ‘the Gulf Daily News’, has published a letter allegedly written by someone called Marc Owen Jones. While there are undoubtedly other Marc Owen Joneses out there, the chances of there being one who has the same background as me are very small. The first letter, pictured below, describes my not-so-alter ego as a ‘former longer-term resident of Bahrain who retains strong links with the kingdom’. He also ‘now lives in Britain’.
While the deliberately vague autobiographical details match my own, Marc Owen Jones II has the opposite political opinions to me. This piece lauds the king, makes generalisations about the opposition, demonises Al Wefaq, drools over the BICI, vilifies protesters, exaggerates reforms, and uses vomit-inducing phrases like ‘so-called protesters’. Although it is somewhat pathetic that someone should resort to using my name to mislead the predominantly expat readers of the GDN, I was relieved to find out that fake me won the ‘Star Letter’ award. Unfortunately, however, I won’t be able to claim the 25 dinars’ worth of Yateem Centre vouchers. If so, I could have bought a lifetime supply of trousers – with change to spare.
Initially I thought the above stunt was a one-off wind up, though today another letter appeared in the GDN, also under my name. This one is even more hilarious, complete with bizarre references to DeLoreans, Back to the Future and Dr. Who. Despite these overbearing attempts to appear endearing and authentic, the whole thing stinks of someone pretending to be a middle-aged Englishman, ( or Welshman for that matter). Some people have suggested his misuse of the subjunctive mood (stand instead of stands in the last paragraph) is indicative (pun intended?- ((lame grammar)) joke) of the writer’s poor grasp of English. It has also been suggested that the phrase ‘how sad to see’ is a construction more similar to التعجب used in Arabic. i.e. How wonderful is this article. ما أجمل هذا الكذب! . The author also uses the peculiar and rather obsolete word ‘RATCHETING’. I can safely say that I have never used this word in writing at any point in my life. Such odd words are a common feature of the GDN though, take a look at this letter for example, which uses the word CARBUNCLE. A personal favourite though is this letter, which is entitled CODSWALLOP!. Finally, to confirm my suspicion that most GDN letter writers think they are still living in Colonial India, how about ‘Jolly Spiffing’?
I doubt the author is British. He/she is more likely to be South Asian or Arab. I am, however, pretty sure that the author is not called Marc Owen Jones. Even the name Marc Owen Jones seems somewhat mundane alongside today’s other letter contributors, which include C. Dickens and Miss Moneypenny…
Anyhow, I think there are three possibilities that may have motivated this ‘hoax’.
1) Someone is just trying to wind me up
2) It is written by GDN staff out of revenge for my frequent trolling of the paper (In all fairness, this whole stunt proves that the GDN is pretty terrible).
3) Given that it smacks of propaganda, it is written by the GDN/PR company/random punter because they think my blog or tweets are read by expats, and the author(s) is(are) worried that expats might view my opinion as a credible source of information/opinion. If this is the case, then whoever is responsible for writing it is trying to use my name to fool expats into thinking that I unequivocally support the government.
Either way, this whole incidence illustrates how much of a joke the GDN is. They have already been sent a complaint about the first incident, though they seem unfazed. Let’s see if Marc Owen Jones II perseveres.