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Schapelle, Don't Be A Clown In The Media Circus

If your desire is to "heal and move forward", it is still possible, but you have to start by telling your family to quit with the stupid stunts.

29/05/2017 4:07 PM AEST | Updated 29/05/2017 5:31 PM AEST

The envelope arrived date-marked and stamped 'Kerobokan'.

Inside, a neatly handwritten note on a sliver of slightly grubby unlined paper, appearing to have been unevenly cut from a larger sheet, presumably because writing paper was in short supply in the author's Balinese prison cell.

Sunday 12th Nov. 06.

Dear Lisa,

Please don't make disparaging remarks about my life, my case, my book in ignorance on national TV. Please read it before you comment. I'm doing it hard enough – I have 20 years.

Schapelle.

It was, of course, from Australia's most infamous prisoner who, two years after her incarceration and with plenty of time on her hands, was trying to do what she could to control her media image and how she was being perceived back home in Australia.

The trouble was, whatever Schapelle had been told about me and what I had said, was wrong. The remarks had been uttered by someone else.

But I suppose being fed misinformation is one of the many prices Schapelle has had to pay for being in prison over the past 13 years, as family and friends -- who quickly became part of the story themselves -- relayed back to her their version of the stories, events and perceptions which have surrounded this once-anonymous 24-year-old beauty therapist from Brisbane from the start.

And, more than a decade later, still it goes on.

I can only imagine that it must seem pretty overwhelming right now as you take it all in, but you are actually much more in control than you realise. Perhaps for the first time in 13 years.

Have we ever seen anything like the circus surrounding Schapelle Corby's return to Australia over the weekend? Has the movement of any other Australian citizen ever aroused such hoopla?

Sure, there were all the expected major Australian media outlets in attendance in Bali, but add to that the staggering local Indonesian press presence, the plethora of paparazzi from both nations -- falling off walls in desperation for that money shot -- and you have yourself a spectacle for the ages.

Then there was the huge parade of police vehicles escorting her to the airport. And what about the 100 police assigned to her case at Denpasar International? What did they think she was going to do, try and escape?

As it has been from the beginning with Schapelle, Indonesian authorities were clearly sending a message to Australia: smuggle drugs into Indonesia and this could be you.

Once she landed in Brisbane's early morning darkness, the madness only grew. Like a Fellini film on fast-forward, police were now replaced by a bewildering array of big black Mercedes, (the car, not the sister), KFC runs, decoy Schapelles, Halloween masks, six-hundred-dollar bottles of alcohol and pouncing papps... all while helicopters buzzed overhead.

If Schapelle -- or the family -- wanted a circus, they had one, though we still can't be sure as to who the ringmaster was.

And yet there at the airport, as the woman of the moment was being smuggled out an underground exit, came the family statement "in the spirit of dignity" pleading for the public's respect and their own privacy.

So, Schapelle, 11 years after your original letter to me, can I be so bold as to now finally offer you some advice so you can take back that control you were originally seeking all those years ago?

There is one basic thing you need to decide: Do you want to try and get back to a relatively normal version of the life that you once knew before all this happened?

If, as your statement read yesterday, your desire is to "heal and move forward", it is still possible... but you have to start by telling your family to quit with the stupid stunts.

Secondly, someone had to be paying for that massive security detail, the business class flights, the expensive hotel rooms, the cars, and all that top-drawer liquor. Let's take it as given that you have done some sort of media deal -- and that you've somehow found a way around the proceeds of crime laws.

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However that works, if you really want to let some air out of this Schapelle balloon of part fascination, part revulsion, which has now engulfed Australia -- and which you are probably experiencing first hand -- then here is your one chance: tell us honestly what really happened, how the whole thing unfolded, what it's all been like for you inside Kerobokan, how you've coped and what you would like to do with your life from here.

Because, Schapelle, you need to know that most Australians think you did it.

But most Australians also still believe in the fair go. You've done your time and it has clearly taken its toll on you. And to this point, as far as we can tell, so much of this circus has not been of your making.

Then again, with your rapid move to Instagram, and huge number of followers, you may want to make 'being Schapelle Corby' your career? Maybe you've become addicted to the mayhem. You could probably make a living out of nightclub appearances and any number of reality shows hungry for your headline-grabbing ability. But if that is the case, you need to be warned. It is a very different world you have re-entered to the one you left in 2004.

There is a certain kind of madness that comes with that decision. There's a multi-million dollar hunger for celebrity-off-guard snaps. And once those outlets know that you're in the game, all bets are off.

It's your decision, Schapelle. The media, the paparazzi and the public will take their cues from you.

I can only imagine that it must seem pretty overwhelming right now as you take it all in, but you are actually much more in control than you realise. Perhaps for the first time in 13 years.

Schapelle, the choice is yours. I wish you well with your decision.

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