Re. No plagiarism in plaid
2 messages
Elizabeth Hunt <Elizabeth.Hunt@telegraph> Tue, Jun 5, 2007 at 1:33 PM
To: koranteng@toli
Dear Mr Ofosu-Amaah
Thank you for your letter which was forwarded to me by the Letters Editor. I have waited until this evening after deadline - when I had a clear desk and clearer head - to reply to your email which I take very serioulsy and which has caused me some distress.
A Plagiarism in Plaid? It is a clever and catchy headline but I am very glad you added the question mark. You are accusing me most unfairly.
Let me explain.
My interest in the plaid bags was sparked towards the end of last year when The Daily Telegraph moved offices west (from Canary Wharf) to Victoria in Central London. Every morning, every evening and several times in the course of the day, I watch the new arrivals in and around the train station and heading to or from the coach station. And I notice the bags they carry - most notably the plaid tote which, previously, I have always associated with visits to a laundrette with quilts/sofa covers etc and other items too big for a domestic washing machine.
But my awareness of the bags pre-dates that. Some Australian in-laws have a large collection - I am not sure why. I have also travelled in Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe and noted their popularity. I have seen them piled high in Departures and Arrivals at Heathrow. Until I became an observer of the comings and goings at Victoria, I was less interested in their association with populations on the move than in their origins. I thought about China and its booming economy and domination of export markets with cheap but useful and versatile good such as these.
The trigger for MY article was the scene I (and, incidentally, several colleagues witnessed) on Thursday May 30 (I concede it WAS inaccurate to say 'yesterday' as I did in the column); the newly arrived and obviously poor family - two little boys, their sister, the mother and the grandmother plus their bulging bags. My colleagues on the Features Desk and I talked about them and our mixed feelings about their arrival. Another colleague, Lesley Thomas, who writes on Style and Beauty for this paper, told me about the Louis Vuitton Street GM bag. Then I remembered my visit to the Ellis lsand Museum and that pile of suitcases. THIS is what got me thinking about immigrants and the significance of the plaid bag being the modern equivalent and I suppose the germ of an idea was born.
It wasn't until Friday, however, when I read my colleague Jeff Randall's article about immigration, that I decided it was a subject I wanted to try and tackle with a piece of social commentary and taking a less hardline view than his. On a visit to Munich some years ago, I first heard the phrase 'Turkish suitcase' - which is how our researcher came to your blog - one of several internet sites she looked in addition to various cuttings and the manufacturer's website. Bags in general have been big news in recent months in Britain - largely because of environmental concerns and the launch of the Anya Hindmarch 'I'm not a plastic bag' bag. It made me think a piece could work and I made my thinking clear in the intro. - otherwise it would have been a random rant about a bag without any context.
Forgive the detailed nature of this email but I feel it is important to explain what motivated me, my thought processes and how I came to write on the subject.  
I am happy to organise a link to your blog IF you will extend the same courtesy to my (unedited) defence against your accusation which I refute. The 'colour, personal perspective and ORIGINAL' reporting that you kindly acknowledge in my article is evidence of a piece written in good faith.
I wish you all the very best with your series, Things Fall Apart.
Thank you and Best Wishes
Yours sincerely
Liz Hunt 

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Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah <koranteng@toli> Tue, Jun 5, 2007 at 3:31 PM
To: Elizabeth Hunt <Elizabeth.Hunt@telegraph>
Dear Elizabeth Hunt,

Thanks for your email. I'd be happy to post your response to my blog.

A clear reference to my name and blog is in order.

Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah
Koranteng's Toli - the blog edition

Note: email addresses have been obscured to protect the privacy of all concerned.

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