Sunday, 8 January 2012

Finding a public nightmare

The story of a kiss on a beach in Ibiza and a lady who likes being in the public eye

On Friday, when I read a story in the Evening Standard by Ellen Widdup (@EllenWiddup) about a PR consultant named Julia Cross launching a hunt for a mystery man she met on holiday, I have to say I was cynical.

 Julia Cross

The story basically went thus: Cross, 33, went to Ibiza and met a man named Martin in a nightclub. They subsequently went to a beach and watched the sun rise and then Cross gave “Martin” her telephone number. She returned home to London and whilst waiting for a call “regaled” her friends with the “what ifs” about what had occurred.

Believing she had given the wrong number, Cross and her friends spent the following months searching for a man who lived in Tooting and works in Camden as a software developer. A key and most bizarre detail was that he had been out partying on the night Cross met him wearing a cycling helmet decorated with glow sticks. Between them they started a Facebook group named “Finding Martin” and even went as far as to stalk the pubs of Tooting with the aim of hunting down a man who plainly did not want to be found.

Ever the cynic, I discussed what Widdup called a “viral” story with a female friend. I suggested, after finding this campaign’s Facebook page had just 60 members, that this story was just a publicity stunt to catapult this PR woman into the public eye. My friend, who was more forgiving, believed what Cross claimed could be true but equally thought she had showed herself to be “desperate” and “sad.”

I investigated further on Twitter and found, contrary to Widdup’s article, no Twitter campaign to “Find Martin” but a series of Tweets from Brian Whelan (@brianwhelanhack), an editor for Yahoo!, that suggested that this whole story was an utter fake. Whelan also highlighted a previous story involving Cross and her former boyfriend Nathan from 2009 that had been published in Fabulous magazine. Here, I realised, was a woman who simply loves being in the papers.

After working my way through Whelan’s Tweets, I found the details for Widdup and contacted her directly. I asked her: “What has convinced you that this lady’s story is genuine?”

Most obligingly the journalist sent me a full summary of how she came upon the story and as she requests, I quote it in full:

“With regards to the Finding Martin article, I carried out all the appropriate checks and was in contact with Miss Cross for two weeks before the article was published. I also spoke to friends of Miss Cross who verified her story.

As a freelance journalist of some experience, when I received this viral email to my personal email account I investigated it further to see if it was a story. I was then, and remain, completely convinced this is not a PR stunt.

Furthermore, following the initial publication in the Evening Standard, I have also been in touch with, and verified the identity of, the Martin in question.

I fully understand people's fears that PR firms hold a growing influence on the British media and I share these concerns.”

Subsequently, Martin was found this morning. He does not want to be reunited with Julia Cross as he’s already got a girlfriend. Who on earth can blame him? This ghastly woman has milked the media with her pap for the last 48 hours and no doubt will now go on to do various interviews and “find me a boyfriend” pieces. Cross is a woman who may well have successfully exploited the Daily Mail and Evening Standard but all she’s really achieved is to make a fool of herself.

Today, the “Finding Martin” page has disappeared from Facebook. Perhaps Julia Cross should learn a lesson from this whole experience: “What happens in Ibiza, stays in Ibiza.”

Read the 2009 Fabulous piece about Julia Cross’s fertility at:


Alexandra said...

Matthew, lovely piece. I was the one who wanted to believe Ms Cross was genuine and we all want to see a happy ending. I blame all those American films - however you are correct, the article was pure pap and what lady in their right mind would speak up about having her 3ggs tested in a national magazine -

Catherine said...

Sad story.  

Julia Cross made the fatal PR blunder by becoming too romantically involved with a guy she met on holiday. The heat and glow of a summer holiday makes everyone giddy with the idea of happy ever after when meeting a fellow sun-kissed holiday reveller.  Particularly after a few cocktails! 

As we know, through stories from friends, magazines, agony aunt columns or what have you, is that holiday romances are called such, because they rarely take off past take off for England.  Holiday romances are like a drug, wonderful whilst their effects take hold, but the comedown can hit us hard, and we cling onto them to keep the memory of a holiday alive.  The story of how Julia and Martin, if that really was his name, isn't exactly Sandy and Danny from Grease-worth now, is it.  
First rule for girls is don't make excuses for a guy.  Nobody can write down their number wrong, so don't kid yourself that he'll get in touch if you've not heard from him after returning home after a day, week, month...regaling the story again and again is not going to make him come back to you with bundles of hugs and love.  Sorry.  Deal with it.   

This modern failed-love story didn't have a happy ending, sadly, it's a tale with a double edged sword.  Life isn't a chick flick, it taught Julia a lesson, along with all of the single girls out there, that the hunt for Mr Right doesn't begin or end with a media campaign.  

The moral of the story is a huge dollop of harsh reality, don't have high expectations from short-lived meetings. The 'discovered' Martin has a girlfriend, so that makes him a plonker?  A plonker for having a girlfriend? A plonker for having a silly harmless kiss on holiday?  Leave the poor guy alone! 

If a guy really wants a girl, he'll make sure he never lets her out of his sight from the get go, he'll make sure he doesn't lose her number  (as Martin may have done, let's face it).  He'll memorise the number and send a text to that number to ensure he gets it right.  

Ergo: A man hunted is a man shunted, and in the wrong direction.  

It would have been easier if Julia's colleagues or friends said: "I hate to break it to you, but he's not been in touch, he's just not that into you."  

In a world where media is all too convenient at the touch of a button or two, everyone knows that spell checks are not only important before clicking that SEND button.  A sense check (before allowing others to seal your fate on your behalf), would also be incredibly wise. 

After all, Julia, who wants to end up with egg all over their face?  

Guest said...

Ha ha ha!  I met Nathan in Ibiza...this is all very ironic!

Rachel Waterson said...

What was he like?

Guest said...

Having a lot of fun, very drunk and flirtatious.  Not someone who was ready for a baby, or showing any sign of commitment!