Experts confess to cello joke

WE'VE all heard of tennis elbow and jogger's nipple, but who would have believed that musicians could be afflicted by an eye-watering condition called cello scrotum?

WE'VE all heard of tennis elbow and jogger's nipple, but who would have believed that musicians could be afflicted by an eye-watering condition called cello scrotum?

It was a condition that baffled even the experts after a letter was printed in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 1974 from a retired GP claiming to have seen a case of 'cello scrotum', said to be caused by 'irritation from the body of the cello'.

But 34 years on, a couple from south Norfolk and Suffolk have confessed to being responsible for the long-running hoax played on the medical world.

Dr Elaine Murphy, now a baroness and an Alzheimer's expert, and her then husband John, who is chairman at St Peter's Brewery in Bungay, admit they have been "dining out" on the joke ever since.


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Mr Murphy said they had been amused by a letter in the publication about a skin irritation called 'guitarist's nipple' and decided to concoct their own condition.

Both now remarried, Dr Murphy, who now lives near Diss and Mr Murphy, who lives near Halesworth, finally gave themselves up this week after reading yet another reference to the falsified condition in the BMJ's Christmas edition.

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In their confession letter to the publication they wrote: 'Perhaps after 34 years it's time for us to confess that we invented cello scrotum.

'Anyone who has ever watched a cello being played would realise the physical impossibility of our claim.'

Mr Murphy said: 'We had dinner in Suffolk over Christmas and decided it was about time we came clean. Everybody knew it was a spoof but no-one ever seemed to know where it came from. It was fantastic fun.'

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