No, we haven’t all pushed a man in a canal and admitted to it in our rather too candid autobiographies. And no, most of us are lucky enough to have never had to sleep rough on the streets. Yet we have all, haven’t we, tried to show off, opened our big mouths and said something that has come back to haunt us. We have all said something that has spiralled quite badly out of our control. And CJ de Mooi from the BBC game show Eggheads, a man defined on his Wikipedia page as a “professional quizzer”, has found himself in a dilly of a pickle.
He told one stupid anecdote in his book The Autobiography of CJ de Mooi and has now, to all intents and purposes, been accused of 12 killings. Imagine CJ wincing a little, scratching his forehead, as he reads the headline: “Egghead CJ de Mooi facing police quiz over ’12 bodies found in Amsterdam canals'”.
In the book, CJ details how he was living on the streets of Amsterdam in 1988 and was attacked by a would-be mugger. In self-defence, he says, he punched the man in the face and threw him in a canal. He does not know what happened to the attacker. CJ admits that he may have accidentally killed this man. The Dutch authorities took a keen interest in this anecdote. They arrested the professional quizzer at Heathrow on Wednesday (September 21).
A Netherlands Public Prosecution Service spokesperson told The Sun: “We want to question him about the incident he described in his book. In 1988 the Amsterdam police has found around 12 bodies in the canals. One of them could be his victim if his story seems to be true.”
That headline is extremely unfortunate for CJ. No-one’s actually accusing him of being a serial killer; the police are trying to establish whether any of those people were the man CJ de Moi pushed into a canal in 1988. But taken on face value, it sounds sounds pretty, pretty bad (and it already doesn’t sound great).
In a small way, we must all know how CJ feels. Once, upon meeting a new girlfriend’s dad for the first time, I experienced a moment of blind panic and professed to love motocross, as he did. I have never taken an interest in motocross. As a result, I spent four hours experiencing yet more blind panic as I attempted to navigate a motocross bike around a local quarry. He asked, afterwards, if I had enjoyed myself and when I smiled weakly and said that, yes, I had really enjoyed myself, I feel that he knew I was not telling the whole truth.
Poor CJ must now wish that he could rewind the ink ribbon on the typewriter, reverse the motions of the printing press, reclaim the email to his publisher in which he said he definitely wanted to keep in the anecdote about the man he pushed into a canal in Amsterdam in 1988. To the casual reader, it now appears that CJ de Mooi has been accused of 12 murders – a fact we should all consider when we slug back that third glass of wine and start to tell a story.