However hard you try, sometimes the angle of the story lies in the fact that ‘mystery surrounds’ whatever it is you’re writing about.
That concept rang true this week both at home and at work.
It’s partly why I’ve not written anything for a little while – I’ve been trying to make sense of Albie’s allergies, and to be honest we’ve hit a point where confusion has taken over.
But first I want to talk about journalism, and a really important project I’ve been working on with the nationwide investigations team I’m part of. Find out more about how the team works in my earlier blog post, here.
Last year, our papers across the country looked at an issue which many felt was spiralling out of control – the cases of military veterans who tragically go on to take their own lives.
What we discovered was very difficult to quantify. While previous investigations, like analysing cyber attacks on our public services, were easy enough to find statistics on to demonstrate the scale of the problem, this wasn’t available to us here.
In fact not even the Government could tell us how many ex-servicemen and women had gone on to die by suicide. The argument followed that, if you don’t know the scale of the problem, it’s both easy to ignore and impossible to address.
We have around 150 papers in our group (now called JPIMedia), including heavy-hitters like the Scotsman, i and Yorkshire Post.
Nearly all of them carried details of our four-month investigation, documenting the stories of families devastated by the deaths of loved ones, to veterans crippled by debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Back in July, we had secured evidence of at least 16 suspected suicides up to that point in 2018.
And while the Government had made some strides in improving its understanding, today we still lack a comprehensive system to record ex-military suicides.
Scores of serving and former service personnel are feared to have died by suicide since. People are dying, well before their time, without accessing the mental health support they need.
So this week we took up the campaign again, and locally I’ve spoken to more people who have been affected – including this absolutely heart-breaking story of an anonymous veteran who clearly went through a torrid time in the RAF. Click here to read more.
The bottom line is we have a very long way to go before we get a grip of this problem. And mystery surrounds the true extent of it, and to a point why we’ve not done much better to address it.
It’s things like this which put our struggles with Albie into perspective.
But equally when it comes to his allergies, there is plenty of confusion.
The Milk Ladder is progressing slowly. We’re still yet to move up to the second stage, but generally we’ve found no real issues in what he’s been eating on the first rung of the ladder.
Admittedly, things fell by the wayside somewhat when he was ill. The first priority was getting him to eat anything at all.
While he improved a lot in terms of his cold, he’s had a fractious few days where he hasn’t quite been himself. Part of it is down to teething, we think, but we’ve also had a period of pretty impressive nappy treats to greet us in the morning, continuing throughout the day.
Stuff like this usually indicates he’s eaten stuff he shouldn’t have – but in terms of the sustained amount of time he hadn’t been right, there was nothing we could put our finger on which caused it.
Sometimes it’s just impossible to tell why they’ve had a blip. Is it just a bug? Did you accidentally put full-fat ‘blue’ milk on his cereal? Is it teething? Or is he just screaming all the time because you’re a really annoying parent?
Yesterday was the first day this week when he hadn’t produced what seemed to be his bodyweight in poo. He only seemed grumpy, too, when I told him off for trying to climb in the dishwasher!
But much like the cough I’ve had for ages, now, coming and going, he’s started to turn into a snot factory again. Hopefully we can keep the latest wave at bay!