Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

A Grim Turn Of Events

Sunday, 25 July 2010

So this is the story of our old friend Ron and the sad events in Thailand - the one I was going to write on here before I decided that a muffin recipe was a bit cheerier. This one, I warn you, is not cheery at all. But here it is, if you want to read.

A Poker Player I Thought I Knew.

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Saul Richardson at 1:36 pm on July 25th, 2010

Fantastic article. Best piece of journalism I think I have read in ages. Very sad and poignant.

cantankerous at 2:49 pm on July 25th, 2010

I think this is the best piece of yours I have read.  I saw what you had done with the fee and my admiration increased.  Just hope you don’t get inspiration like this again.  But I’d like more writing like this.

IfancyVickyCoren at 2:50 pm on July 25th, 2010

What attitude did he have towards gun rights and the death penalty in his rightwing alpha male glory days? Of course I could guess, but do not want to be sued for libel.

David Young at 4:30 pm on July 25th, 2010

There is a considerable degree of ‘projection’ in this article. It’s as revealing of Victoria’s theory of male sexuality as it is of Ron (which is not to say that it’s necessarily wrong).

I knew him before he went to Thailand, but lost touch once he was gone. I recall that he was exceedingly generous to a friend of mine who was in dire straits.

He was once married to a western woman but divorced, perhaps because he was in submarines for months at a time. Not good for anyone’s mental state. In one youtube interview he says he stood watch for 150hrs.

If asked what his attitude towards gun rights would be, he would probably have said that a gun would help an 8 stone woman defend herself against a fully-grown military-trained madman with a knife.

But maybe that’s just projection.

Roman at 5:28 pm on July 25th, 2010

Sad story.  I had a similar incident with a guy I went to school with. We weren’t closest friends, but we were on the same bus and spent quite a few lunch breaks together. He took his assault rifle (issued by the army), went to a restaurant and emptied the magazine for no apparent reason. One man dead, several people injured.

A couple of months ago,  I noticed a weird smell in the air. I went outside and found my neighbour lying in flames. He chose to commit suicide by self-immolation. The most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. I was so shocked that I couldn’t eat a bite for days. He was such a friendly and ordinary guy and I knew him since I was a kid.

Oh well. God moves in mysterious ways. Phil Hellmuth might remain the only person who’s able to read people’s souls.

Rob King at 6:28 pm on July 25th, 2010

Very well written piece, and i guess pretty cathartic.

I hope you don’t let his later action taint the good memories of the times you spent together. it really sounds like it was 2 different people, One was your friend, and one had been changed and beaten down to a level where his confidence and ego had been so shattered his actions actually made sense.

I wish you, and everyone else affected by this, all the best,

"Freaky Psycho Nutcase" Nick at 6:55 pm on July 25th, 2010

“you don’t give someone a “mad” nickname if you mean it”... “Mad” Frankie Fraser was nicknamed just that and it was rightly earned, even if he gave it to himself (officially certified insane numerous times). In fact if someone gives themself a nickname like that you should be even more wary of them. Another hint for all you naive poker players out there, is that people who wish cancer on others are giving out strong signals that they aren’t all there and would probably do you damage if given the chance. Seriously, you should change your selection process for “friends” as it seems rather flawed.

Victoria Coren at 6:55 pm on July 25th, 2010

DY, to be fair I hope I made it very clear what was projection - the piece isn’t even really about Ron so much as (supposed to be) about what one’s brain does with the strange information that someone you know has done something like this, and the way you “write a story, filling in the gaps” to make it make sense. I did try to spell out what I know and what I’ve imagined.

  But it’s certainly not my general theory of male sexuality! Jeez, I’d struggle to be heterosexual if it was that. No, it was a projection based on the argument I had with Ron about western women v. Asian women, and what HE told me he was looking for. Maybe I didn’t make that clear enough. I was extrapolating from that conversation, to imagine how his mind developed later.

RomanticRecluse at 8:40 pm on July 25th, 2010

There may not have been signs that could have led someone to predict that Ron would become a murderer but judging by what I’ve read I’d say that there were signs that he was a psychopath.  You can extrapolate forwards from an argument about Thai girls to the murder of a Thai prostitute but you can also look backwards and in the past you may find more signs and victims of his predatory behaviour.  Does the murder show that he had changed in some way or did it reveal what he was all along?

I have no sympathy for Ron.  Psychopaths may be charming and amusing to their friends and family and even to their prospective prey but they do enormous damage to individuals, families and communities and I can empathise with their victims.

And I say that as the son of a psychopath.

Lark at 10:45 pm on July 25th, 2010

I saw you on Have I Got News For You and was surprised to find out you were a writer. I was further surprised to see your vids on Amazon about the Poker book, a lot of what you said resonated, which is the sign of a great writer. So I’m further pleased to see a blog and links to journo pieces.

This particular piece about your friend the Mad Yank is great, your opening thoughts are mine exactly about the people who all have something to say in the aftermath of the RM incident.

Cheers. I’ll keep reading.

The Tim at 5:36 pm on July 26th, 2010

Just read the article – I’ve known 2 people who’ve turned out to be psychopathic (though not murderers). As you seem to indicate it’s always obvious afterwards and you realise that the signs were there all along and all the thoughts you were trying to hide from yourself bubble up to the surface. It’s all very scary really.

You were very courageous to include that photo. P.S. Have a nice time in Cardiff.

RomanticRecluse at 5:53 pm on July 26th, 2010

Vicky, you may not like this but I see a problem.

Here and in the Obs you wrote about Terence Jolley.  The debates got quite heated.  I think you should read those pieces.

Now you’ve written about Ron Fanelli, his poker career, his journey from the US to Thailand and the murder he committed.  You’ve written about crying at Ron’s comment on his downfall and you’ve tweeted “poor old Ron”.  Did you cry for Wanphen Pienjai, a woman so desperate to support her mother and two children that she worked as a prostitute?

I think you should compare Terence and Ron and your reactions to them.  One gatecrashed funerals.  One brought a funeral forward.  One made you angry.  One made you sad.  Do you see the problem I see?

I’ll give at least fifty quid to Victim Support if you can.

The Tim at 10:18 pm on July 26th, 2010

And another thing - I’ve just listened to the last series of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue (if any of you are not then you’re really missing out) and wondered if you’ve ever been asked to be on it – you’d be perfect with that dry wit of yours.

Victoria Coren at 11:25 pm on July 26th, 2010

RR - make a donation to Victim Support if you can spare the funds, or not if you have another preferred charity, but please don’t make it dependent on what I do or don’t see! I can’t really take on that responsibility.

  There isn’t really a link between those two pieces. I’ve used the word “poor” about a vast range of different people, over the course of my life - including, in this article, about Wanphen Pienjai. If, in another piece about something else, I’ve said “poor old Britney Spears”, there isn’t necessarily a parallel to be drawn. And just because the article about Ron Fanelli and the article about Terrence Jolley both involve people doing something wrong, there isn’t necessarily any further comparison.

  That line in the Phuket Gazette made me sad because it was about the passing of time and the changing of the world, where three years is both a brief period and, literally, a lifetime. I think it’s fairly obvious from my references to Wanphen in the piece that my sympathy would lie with her. I also said “Poor old Ron” in a reply on Twitter to a friend who also used to know him. Yes, I do think “poor old Ron”: he is a lost soul. Doesn’t mean I condone what he did, or that I personally am in a position to forgive it, obviously not. And it certainly doesn’t mean I think killing somebody is less bad than gatecrashing a funeral.

  As it happens, I have also tried, in the past, to think “poor Terrence Jolley”. Nevertheless, they are radically different people, their misdeeds incomparable. Obviously what Ron did was worse. But that’s not the point. They are on different moral scales. The point is that Ron’s story makes me sad for all the dark plot twists in promising lives. Terrence Jolley came to my attention as a shyster and a charlatan, insulting my father’s memory and abusing my mother’s hospitality when she was grieving; I can’t feel wistful for a time when I knew him before everything went wrong, when he was happy, because I didn’t.

  On a cheerier note - Tim, I’ve never been asked to do ISIHAC, but I’m sure I’d say no if I were. That’s one of my favourite all-time programmes and I wouldn’t want it ruined by having me on it. The regular panellists are far too good. I might be able to fashion the odd funny line in the paper, when nobody’s murdered anybody, but I’m no Graeme Garden and sadly I never will be.

John at 11:26 pm on July 26th, 2010


I saw another man with a “mad” nickneme - Andy Black - playing on channel 4 recently. It was a 6 seater ring game with 5 pros and one internet qualifier. Early on the internet guy took down a pot when he bet and Black and Phil Laak folded. Black then passed the inernet guy’s hand to Laak who turned it over - revealing queens. The internet guy was very unhappy and called on the referee (Thomas Kremser). Referee did nothing. What would you do if that happened to you? Are there rules in this regard?

cheers john.

Victoria Coren at 11:47 pm on July 26th, 2010

John - this has happened to me. There’s a story in my poker book about a game on board a boat in Marbella where Devilfish did exactly this with my hand - and I’ve explained why, in that situation, I forgave him for it. It was a light-hearted holiday game, for charity, he was being funny, etc etc. I’d be very offended if someone exposed another player’s hand in a serious game - it is certainly appalling etiquette in most poker situations - but there is no standard set of rules, every tournament or casino cash game is different and the tournament director’s word has to be final. Maybe this was a game in which “needle” was encouraged - often the way on TV…

Lego at 1:13 am on July 27th, 2010

One of your best articles. Perhaps it should be titled “The potential perils of poker.” I know that isn’t the main focus of the article, and people might argue I’m missing the point, but the beginning of his downward spiral started with him losing all his money via poker (but perhaps the seeds were sown before that). That’s why I said a couple of comments ago “I’m not sure I’d recommend it to anyone.” Because although it can be great for some people, like yourself, it can be an emotional rollercoaster and can play havoc with your moods, if you treat it seriously, even on the cheap tables. And ultimately it can be very bad for some people. For Ron, it seemed to be very cruel. Great, perhaps the best times, for a while, but eventually it all turned very bad.

I’m curious how it went bad, though, as he seemed to be a good player. I could be wrong, but I’m not sure I believe in long term luck trends. Good and bad luck always seem to go from day to day to me. I guess it can be more long term if you’re playing live, wtih fewer games/tourneys. I wonder if he risked too much of his bankroll, lost too much, got tilted, his judgement worsened, started chasing his loses and taking bigger risks, and it went bad like that. Or perhaps the field improved and he didn’t? I’ve heard Daniel Negreanu say poker’s got really tough these days compared to the past. Just about everyone in the game seems to have greater knowledge.

I’m v curious how a good player went from winning to losing everything.

Claudi at 1:17 am on July 27th, 2010

I disagree with RR completely.  I think the article Vicky wrote was moving and thought provoking, and displayed genuine, human, sensibility. 
As for the twitter comment, seems to be to be an entirely understandable sentiment, one that I’m sure I would have had in the same position. 
The article was a breath of fresh air in a world where Daily Mail sensationalism means that any non-lynch mob-esque response to murder, paedophilia etc are automatically condemned. 
Of course what he did was awful, but having sympathy for the victim doesn’t mean the perpetrator is any less deserving of it either.
I’m really glad I read the piece, and understand how upsetting it must be for you Vicky.  Thank you for being so open about your experience.

john at 3:39 am on July 27th, 2010


Read your book and very impressed. Thought ur bit about fear of flying very well written and most amusing. If u meet Black or Laak have a word with them. By the way i recommend u teaming up with Des Wilson for a poker book - bestseller I reckon.

cheers john.

MDW at 9:41 am on July 27th, 2010

Thought provoking stuff, do we really know the people we think we know or do we only see what they want us and the world to see?

mike at 10:15 am on July 27th, 2010

Hi Vicky,

I thought your recent article in the Guardian was a very sensitive and sincere piece about Ron, and your contribution to Victim Support was a lovely gesture.

I too love ISIHAC and it has been the highlight of my Mondays. Am I a sad case? (Although not as good as when Humph was in the chair).  Now it has finished its current run we have JAM with Nicholas Parsons, so at least some sort of consolation depending on one’s point of view.

I am going to try your edited recipe for PCA muffins today so will report back.

Take care and be good.

C Scott at 10:43 am on July 27th, 2010

A few years ago an old acquaintance ran down some people in the city centre, got out of his car and shot them then shot himself. He had apparently spent his school days reading gun mags at the back of the class. He and a chum had stabbed pigeons to death with forks whilst filming it (the other guy joined the Met. Seriously). Why then does it shock &  surprise us when people who have an interest in killing (either formally, in being part of the military machine, or informally), who see it as lying within a range of options, go on to kill?
Best wishes

IfancyVickyCoren at 11:53 am on July 27th, 2010

According to the original article he was rightwing. What was the average political affiliation of his friends? Could that change now, perhaps as his mix of friends changes or as existing friends may revise to his advantage their previous political opinions? Claudi’s recent contribution set me wondering.
  If given the choice, would he prefer to serve his sentence in a Thai or a US jail? Which would be better? Back home, would an ex-military prisoner be treated more kindly?

RomanticRecluse at 5:00 pm on July 27th, 2010

Vicky, thanks for replying (ton for VS) but the problem I see is you tend to react first to who you see and then to what they do and sometimes you’re left torn between being loyal and what’s right.  Compare Terence Jolley and Michael Arnold: both fraudsters but your friend stole £500K from a friend of his.  Compare Erik Cajelais and Ron Fanelli: both sexist alpha males with bad poker table manners but the friend you assumed was innocent is a murderer.  Loyalty can be misplaced, abused or undeserved or lead to accusations of unfairness or hypocrisy.

You’ve written and played poker for decades but you still have a childlike naivety.  I love you but you need to lose the rose-tinted glasses you often wear and see the world how it really is.  Your friend Ron could have killed you.

David Young at 5:11 pm on July 27th, 2010

I too thought of Ron as ‘right-wing’ but thinking back, I can’t recall talking in depth about economics. I have to ask Vicky whether her description is based on anything more than his support for the war in Iraq (opposed by the Daily Mail and supported by some on the left).

I’m not even sure whether he was that keen on US support for Israel.

I’ve found a link to Ron’s forum posting history on the Hendon Mob site:


shrink at 5:47 pm on July 27th, 2010

Psychopaths are usually very charming and are mostly of above average intelligence. Psychopaths who kill later in life have usually killed before and got away with it. Some interesting body language from you going on in that pic of you and the murderer, it looks like you are not at all comfortable with being next to him, you probably weren’t even aware of it at the time.

mike at 6:09 pm on July 27th, 2010

Hi Vicky,

I have just made a batch of PCA Muffins, and thought it best to give you the verdict on the PCA Muffins thread before this one.

Cheers :-)

IfancyVickyCoren at 10:21 pm on July 27th, 2010

Dear Ms. Coren,
  firstly, he has not yet, to my knowledge, been formally convicted, and further evidence could be adduced at trial.
  It is not for me to say how bad WHOEVER killed this lady always was, or to what extent they may have deviated from their own true nature in committing this atrocity.
  As I did not know the suspect, it is not for me to speculate on his psychological history - as to what sort of person he may have been 20, 15, 10 or 5 years ago, and so on right up to the present. You, Miss Coren, are more qualified than I could ever be to attempt analysis of the accused, because it was you who knew him.
  It would be natural if the most unforgiving were the victim’s family themselves. The angriest people in most cases are those harmed personally.
People do not normally expect each other to be well disposed towards those who harm them or theirs in any way, murder of a relative being an extreme case.
  On the other hand, a normal person will sometimes make or suggest points in favour of a friend, even when recognising that that friend is guilty of possibly grievous wrong. There is no reason why such points must necessarily be inaccurate. Even very bad people can possess some good qualities.
  It is not for me to analyse someone of whom I never had any direct, personal knowledge, at least not before the completion of due process.

Ian at 12:35 pm on July 28th, 2010


Paul McGuire has written up a piece about it on his blog citing your article.

Jay at 4:51 pm on July 28th, 2010

I think this exercise of informed imagination ( considering the fate and decisions of the murdered girl is more useful (and less self-absorbed) than your similar novelization of the murderer.

Jo at 4:52 pm on July 28th, 2010

RomanticRecluse, I think you could be a tad more patronising. Please try harder.

DavidF at 8:15 pm on July 28th, 2010

Hi Vicky. Great article as usual. Without wanting to get too involved in the somewhat odd comparison above of your articles about Terence Jolley and Mad Ron, have you seen p15 of the current issue of Private Eye? Obviously a long lost cousin of said Jolley has found his way to the south coast of Africa. They call him the Grim Eater. He sounds a little less obnoxious than the fat fellow but it’s sad evidence that this is a global trend. Sir William would turn in his grave.

itchy at 11:32 pm on July 28th, 2010

excellent article.  man’s inhumanity to man.

any link to articles re terrence, michael arnold?


Victoria Coren at 11:34 pm on July 28th, 2010

Thanks David. You’re right; Sir William is indeed revolving in his grave at the thought of this transatlantic Jolley. To me, though, it’s less offensive from this new guy because he goes alone. It’s easier to believe he’s just lonely (or hungry) than it is with Jolley, who mobilizes a whole group of gatecrashers, and seems to derive a sick kind of amusement from the challenge.  It’s grim and tacky however you do it, but I mind this Grim Eater a lot less.

  It occurs to me though, further to what the poster said above about my being unforgiving about Jolley - actually that’s not true. My first piece was written in a very forgiving Christmas spirit. The follow-up article, a year later, was less so, because he’d carried on doing it.

RomanticRecluse at 11:44 pm on July 28th, 2010

Jo, sorry if I’m patronising but some people here and elsewhere (including some poker bloggers who have been scathing) had concerns about Ron’s earlier behaviour.  He displayed psychopathic characteristics.  His subsequent deterioration was predictable.  Stories like Ron’s are not unfamiliar, in poker or the wider world.

Some laughed at Ron’s loud, temperamental and sexist behaviour but it wasn’t an act by a man playing up in public.  Ron and MadYank weren’t two different people.  He didn’t suddenly change.  What happened was shocking but it shouldn’t have come as a shock if you observed, found a pattern and used it to predict the future like a social scientist.

Or a poker player.

David Young at 12:06 am on July 29th, 2010

I’m not sure why ‘Ifancyvickycoren’ is so keen to know about Ron’s politics. Why fix on that aspect of his life as the root cause of his later murder? I could just as easily point to his Hendon Mob post of Dec 24 2003, in which he appears to ... err ... fancy Vicky Coren! Could that be what triggers men to murder?

Quote: “she is an articulate hot WOMAN already, she is not GOING to be a babe, she is ONE”;=#4661

Separately, while it’s true that Vicky does make clear that her piece is projection, it’s SO VIVIDLY WRITTEN that a lot of people will come away with it fixed in their minds as the real scoop. It’s that powerful and a testament to her writing skiil.

DavidF at 12:06 am on July 29th, 2010

Having re-read the article I notice I made a mistake about the Grim Eater hailing from South Africa - he managed to get all the way to New Zealand. Yes definitely a less offensive calibre of ghoul - anyone who uses Tupperware can’t be all bad I suppose. Without a doubt your original story was in the Christmas spirit; most would definitely have gone for the laxative.

Dan at 12:28 am on July 29th, 2010

Jay, I think this is an odd comparison.  Vicky wrote the article focusing on her having known Ron because she used to know Ron.  It made for a deeply poignant, resonant piece of journalism, which people have appreciated for what it is.  Why makes you think it was intended to reflect anyone’s objective view of this?

Camel at 7:08 pm on July 29th, 2010

The Poker Bastard Knew

IfancyVickyCoren at 9:47 pm on July 29th, 2010

I never said his politics were ‘the root cause’ of the crime he is now accused of having committed. Ms. Coren herself referred to him as ‘rightwing’ (not incidentally to ‘his Hendon Mob post’).  I have never identified any normal political ideology with a predisposition to violence. Retrospectively however, I do detect a CONTRADICTION if someone expressing a severe attitude towards law and order goes on themselves to commit any offence, particularly a serious one. Not that the article comments on what the suspect’s law and order attitudes were. It just described him as rightwing, which made me wonder if closer examination would expose hypocrisy - if he is actually convicted. I do not assume automatically that he will be, making that clear in a previous post.

Chris at 9:54 am on July 31st, 2010

It’s always been a source of irony to me that the establishment seems to give great credit to ex military servicemen as people that have loyally ‘served their country’, as if that’s the primary reason why most join up. Upon induction they are trained to a level of discipline and obedience such that they are expected to take life without question. One doesn’t have to be right wing or enjoy killing to be in the military..but it helps.

Jack at 6:53 am on August 1st, 2010

Ron Fanelli sounds lika psycho from the start with his egomaniacal direspectful behaviour at the tables and his extreme views about everything including women. You seem to think he was unlucky but people like that often turn out to be wife beaters and worse.

As an aside why is it acceptable for poker players to be abusive to each other at the tables? If I ran a club and one of the players said he hoped everyone died of cancer I’d ban him.

RomanticRecluse at 12:25 pm on August 1st, 2010

I think the relevance of Ron’s rightwing politics and military service is that they are yet more indications of his predatory nature, a belief in a natural order of things and his right to and need for a high place within it which movements like feminism and socialism threatened.  People with a dog-eat-dog mentality seek to justify actions which others consider antisocial, don’t feel empathy or remorse as other people would and expect to be loved but are incapable of loving other people.  Some predatory people (such as members of school or street gangs) don’t try to hide their nature but others try to hide it like the wolf in sheep’s clothing in Aesop’s fable.

Ron hunted people but now he has been caught and he has come out with a confession of sorts to save his life.

Paul at 1:41 pm on August 2nd, 2010

It’s amazing how many people are so so sure Ron did it, the same people that often look at countries like Thailand and say they are corrupt are now looking at a man and calling him a murderer without getting all the facts. Have any of you bothered to speak to Ron, quite easy if you are out in Thailand. You might be a bit surprised to find out more in this story before judging…..

I have bothered to find out a bit more, and what I do know is shocking to say the least !

IfancyVickyCoren at 3:43 pm on August 2nd, 2010

I have made it clear in more than one message here that I do not take a guilty verdict for granted. It is important never to prejudge the outcome of any trial - otherwise what would be the point of bothering with one?

Snag at 10:43 am on August 3rd, 2010


Because Mao and Stalin never killed anyone, did they.

shrink at 10:45 am on August 3rd, 2010

Set up a facebook group then paul, along the lines of ‘yank psycho murderer you legend’. Would fit in well with your portfolio of raoul moat tribute pages.

shrink at 10:59 am on August 3rd, 2010

To be honest, whether he is or isn’t a victim of shocking treatment I couldn’t care less. The fact he enjoyed visiting impoverished countries to partake in his depraved hobby of abusing women (even if they are conveniently termed as prostitutes by his poker buddies), is enough for me to despise the vile monster.

IfancyVickyCoren at 7:49 pm on August 3rd, 2010

I doubt very many violent offenders take a conservative view on law and order. Few would have done so just before committing their first attack, and even less afterwards.

David Young at 7:50 pm on August 3rd, 2010

Ron was also a fan of The Smiths and Tottenham Hotspur. Were those contributory factors?

Has anyone who’s expressed an opinion bothered to check the link I attached to his Hendon Mob posting history, before feeling they know everything about the man from one Observer article?

To ‘shrink’ I should point out that Ron went to Thailand because he’d formed a relationship with a Thai woman. The prostitutes thing came years later.

You can see picture of the two of them at Ron’s old blog:

John at 10:15 am on August 4th, 2010

Apologies for being slightly off subject and therefore a little bit trivial.  Television can be a wonderful thing.  I’m sure I just saw Alice Roberts skinny dipping… in THE LAKE DISTRICT!!  And I bet she went for a pint afterwards too!  I was wondering, should I pop a map of Cumbria in the post for you?

RomanticRecluse at 6:01 pm on August 4th, 2010

Snag, Mao and Stalin did kill but some psychopaths want to blend in so they can pursue their egotistical goals better and in a communist country that means being a communist.  You may be amazed at what psychopaths will do to get what they want.  Some get married and have children.

Psychopaths are hard to spot before they attack but if you’ve been a victim of them and survived, you learn to spot them, although unfortunately you also end up with a lot of false positive sightings.  Their victims are easier to spot but harder to find because they live in fear.  If you think the story of the downfall of an alpha male is sad perhaps you should hear stories from victims of alpha males and find out what really makes them snap.

Hubert O'Hearn at 8:57 am on August 5th, 2010

Truly excellently written story. You must turn out a ‘Best Of’ some day. And thank you for the card. It will be properly framed and placed, i think to Martin Amis’s right ... so you can mess with his head when he’s on the button. Heh heh.


Chris at 11:14 am on August 6th, 2010

Judging by the number and spectrum of comments here, perhaps it’s time to ‘pop another coin in the meter’ Victoria? :-)

dissapointed at 5:14 pm on August 6th, 2010

not only *might* people confuse your speculation as the truth, journalists have, and have taken to repeating things you said, including local news sources in thailand. fictionalizing the murder, and then explaining after a few paragraphs of description that it was all speculation seems kind of irresponsible to me.. especially when you had nearly zero facts about what really happened.

Victoria Coren at 5:24 pm on August 6th, 2010

“dissapointed”, I’m sorry but I really can’t legislate for other people’s confusion. One can only write respectfully, for a reader one assumes will understand what something says; there will always be people who misread and misunderstand but you just can’t write with that in mind. I write for an intelligent broadsheet newspaper, that I read myself, and I never write as though the reader is less intelligent than I am. I have to assume if I say several times that I am in shock over news I never expected, and clearly explain that I am trying to make sense of it by writing a story, and summarize at the end that I don’t know how the guy actually feels about anything, that my readers will understand it is an article about the experience of trying to understand these things NOT a witness account of something that happened in a faraway country where I wasn’t. If I can’t take that as read, I’d never be able to write anything for intelligent readers.

  I have written about Ron again in this week’s column, however, which may spell out the point for anyone who misunderstood before.

MDW at 7:10 pm on August 6th, 2010

I understood and I’m very dim

IfancyVickyCoren at 7:47 pm on August 6th, 2010

I had NO difficulty understanding that you were NOT attempting a factual report on what actually happened. You made that very clear, and if others insist on interpreting your ideas as fact it is they who are at fault.

IfancyVickyCoren at 8:05 pm on August 6th, 2010

Moreover, I think you conceded that you would only be theorising BEFORE the section of your article in which you actually did so.  You cannot sensibly be accused of propagating misinformation.

Paul Bracken at 11:17 pm on August 13th, 2010

I’ve just heard about this. Wow, I’m shocked. I liked Ron a lot. Although (as a friend just put it) he could be abrasive, he was also kind and helpful. He was a regular at the Vic when I joined the London poker fraternity back in 2003. He was helpful and kind to me, at least. Also funny at times: People can speculate all they want about what may or may not have occurred. One thing is for sure, Thailand can be a surreal place and lifestyles are very different to here in the UK. This doesn’t excuse anything that may or may not have happened, all we know for sure is a girl is dead and Ron has a very tough life ahead of him. I feel for them both.

Rachel at 2:07 am on August 24th, 2010

Thanks Paul, for recognizing he was a friend.  Who knows what happened to Ron, but I do know that he was a kind person, a man with a sister and parents who loved him.  The navy was hard on him, and his wife left him, and who knows where things went after that.  About ten years ago he had a slow spiral downward.  It’s nice to know that he still had friends.

Victoria Coren

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