Sunday, 29 March 2015

Sane New World: St James's Theatre

I am a big fan of the St James's theatre in Victoria - its beautiful and gets some really good plays / performers doing their "thing" there. Its not too big and you can sit almost anywhere and have a really good view of the stage. 

I always thought that Sane New World should have a stint there - and to my complete delight earlier this month, it did ! 

I was lucky enough to be invited on the opening night and then went a couple more times during its two week stint and was amazed at how the show matured and developed during that time. In FACT, since I first saw the show last year - just over a year ago - it has grown and changed a lot since then. It doesn't really matter how many times I see it, I can't fail to learn something. Each time I saw it, the audience were on their feet by the end. What a triumph. 

The next thing I am hoping to going to see at St James's is The Three Lions. I am so excited. I have just been blown away by Zoe Wanamaker in her performance of Stevie at the Hampstead theatre - more on that later. 

Here is Ruby after the first night with Dr Mark Collins

We met the founder of the HEART SWEATBAND blog (a blog with lots of famous / well known faces wearing a sweatband) and now we are ON the blog....

And then I was dared to wear it on my three and a half mile walk to work - so I did ! I also carried some Comic Relief balloons to raise awareness of Red Nose Day. 

Here's Kathy Lette, David Suchet and Ruby on the last night - who's pointing at who !?

Now the show is in Australia for a few weeks.... Sane New World is taking on THE World...!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Galloping with Miranda Hart for Comic Relief

I LOVE Comic Relief. A few posts ago, I think I mentioned I would be doing something funny for money for this very worthy cause. This is what happened....

There was something unusual about Hampstead Heath on Saturday 7th March. A few hundred excited and enthusiastic people had gathered to do something quite remarkable in aid of Comic Relief.

In honour of Miranda Hart, the plan was to GALLOP (no horses involved) a MILE around the athletics track - 4 laps. It was much harder than it looked and hilarious fun. 

And GUESS WHO turned up as an unexpected surprise to show her support - none other than Miranda Hart herself. I KNOW! Richard Curtis and Emma Freud (the founders of Comic Relief) arrived with her - and literally had to shield her from the squealing, giggling gallopers who rushed to greet her. 

There aren't many people who would honour and acknowledge their fans quite like she did. It was very moving to see so many people so overjoyed by her presence - not least because so much thought had gone into the whole event and for the "Head galloper" to actually be there meant a lot. 

Below (left): The view from the track
Below (right): Emma Freud, Miranda H and Spike Curtis

This is the greatest and my most favourite photo of all - see if you can spot me ! 

The highlight of the afternoon was not only seeing Richard Curtis gallop two laps of the athletics track (half a mile) but when Emma Freud introduced me as the "other Miranda", she gave me a big high five and exclaimed that we do actually look quite a like.

I believe the gallopathon alone raised more than £16,000 for Comic Relief, which is so incredible. Fingers crossed it takes place again next year!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Spring has Sprung

Can we please talk about the fact that Spring has definitely SPRUNG and this is the most joyful thing to see on my daily 3.5 mile walk to work each morning. 

There has been a lot going on in the MMM world. More news to follow !!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Chirpy Tweets

Twitter is my guilty pleasure and is the best kind of procrastination... This made my day today - 

Monday, 2 March 2015

Over It: Dave Chawner's inspiring TED Talk

Several weeks ago, I heard my friend Dave Chawner had been invited to give a TED talk - and finally I have been able to watch it and share it with you. 

Using comedy to talk about mental illness is a very difficult thing to get right. But its a way of engaging people and getting them to listen and remember. He is one of the bravest and most inspiring people I have ever met. Watch it and you will see why - 

Behind the comedy, there is a serious message. Its so hard to get the right balance but he completely nailed it and I hope many people will learn from what he has to say. Especially the Monster Munch lady. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

1st March 2010: 5 years on

For many people, today's main focus has been the fact that it's St David's day or (for those of us in Suffolk / Norfolk) the Norwich v Ipswich East Anglian Derby, or Ireland v England in the Six Nations rugby.

But I am quietly acknowledging another anniversary today. It is exactly 5 years since I went into hospital with mental illness - and have never had to go back.

I went for a walk this morning (pic below) and pondered on the last 5 years - I am v proud of what I have achieved since then - 

- I have started, finished and passed an undergraduate university degree
- I have procrastinated with many blog posts and tweets, but have hopefully built something that is actually worth reading
- I have hopefully contributed in someway to stamping stigma and raising awareness of mental health issues
- I have learnt a lot (about people, me, the world, my brain etc...) that I was previously muddled and unsure about
- I have made some of the greatest friends
- I have landed a proper, grown up job in this proper, grown up world, which 5 years ago seemed totally incomprehensible and unimaginable. 

I remember the first people I ever met in hospital - I walked into a busy dining room, grabbed the nearest empty chair and quickly got chatting to a somewhat buoyant and entertaining bunch of people. They turned out to be the addicts. I sat next to a very twinkly reassuring lady called B. And it was at this moment that I knew it would be ok - however hard the next few weeks / months would be, I knew the people I was going to meet and get to know were going to become very special friends. I was right. 

B was coming to the end of her 28 day programme and was able to fill me in on what the nurse hadn't told me and she re-showed me everything like how to work the washing machine and she pointed out which sofa was the comfiest in the sitting room. That kind of advice and help was appreciated more than anything. 

What makes today quite emotional for me is that B - the twinkly, kind lady who I sat next to that evening - is no longer with us. Her alcohol addiction killed her last year. Mental illness and addiction are a bitch like that - not all of us were going to make it. And B didn't. 

In my "Happy 5 year anniversary to us!" text that I sent a few people this morning - it was another lady called P who reminded me about that evening in the dining room and my first encounter with B. 

I am in constant touch with lots of the people who were fellow inpatients - we often meet up and do various things - funnily enough, in 2011, 8 of us went to see Ruby Wax in her first show Losing It and I never imagined 4 years later that I would be in touch with her now.... We also went to a Patrick Holford workshop AND on another occasion did a road trip to Cadbury world.

Of course, the last 5 years have not always been plain sailing and some days are the kind of two steps forward, one step back days. But on the whole, for me life has turned a corner. I am very mindful that for some people (including me sometimes), things can be or are still very difficult and the black dog is still barking loudly. 

Here's hoping for many more years of recovery. I still have to take a very small dose of medication and there is still a lot to be achieved on the mental health stigma stamping front - but I'm still willing to keep tackling it. 

On that note, Bill Oddie has stressed me out again.... I hope he reads this from November 2013 when he last made my blood boil.