Miles Vs Waudby

mike 2014
About seven years ago, I dropped round a mate’s house to drop off a birthday card. I hadn’t seen him in a long while and on the last occasion I had spent time with him he was a good few stone overweight, rather introverted and he’d confessed to me that he’d been struggling with the drink. His mam shouted up the stairs that I was waiting for him and when he walked through the living room door I actually skipped a heartbeat upon taking stock of his appearance. The man that I once knew as an athletic, handsome twenty-one year-old had descended further down the road to obesity and alcohol dependence and stood before me deathly pale, wearing a faded t-shirt and jogging bottoms, and, by his own admission, well in excess of thirty stone. I left that his house day stunned and upset that my friend had succumbed to such terrible problems. A couple of vague text messages were sent with the intention of meeting sometime soon, even though I knew it probably wouldn’t happen, and with the event of my grandfather passing on a short while later, I’m ashamed to admit that I kind of forgot about Mike Waudby over the next few weeks. It came to pass that I wouldn’t see him for another three years, and one night in 2010 when I wandered onto the streets of HU5 having just done the soundcheck for one of my band’s many “last ever gigs”, I received a text from my good friend Danny West, something along the lines of “I’m in (name of bar), swing by if you can, I’ve got a bit of a surprise for you.”

That surprise was the once-again lithe and muscular Mike Waudby, with his chiselled jawline and smiling face that I remembered from when he was twenty-one. During that three year absence, Mike had undergone the most astonishing and inspiring transformation, both physically and mentally. Through sheer hard work and phenomenal discipline, he had shed eighteen stone of his body weight. When I started this website, it had always been an idea of mine to get Mike to write his story, and although it took much persuading, he eventually did. If you’re one of the twenty people on Earth who hasn’t read it, it can be found here. https://sittingontheswings.com/2013/10/07/18-stone-weightloss-by-mike-waudby/
His story has captured the hearts and minds of many thousands of people all around the world, and I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him about the changes that his article brought to his life. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

So Mike, it’s almost exactly one year on. Your extraordinary article about your weight loss is the most viewed piece on this site by a mile. Where you slightly overwhelmed by the response?
Allen, I was in complete shock. To be honest I was bricking it when you posted my article, terrified people would ridicule me. If you hadn’t sent that text saying it was the best piece of writing you had ever read I probably wouldn’t have let you post it (by the way, I thought you was being sarcastic at first!) The second you posted it I actually had to leave the computer and go downstairs thinking “What the hell have I just done?” I was trembling to be honest and anxious to see the replies. When I saw them it was a relief, in fact it meant so much, more then I can express.

It was an unbelievably honest piece of writing. Did you sit down and think about it for ages before you did it or did you just think “Fuck it, I’m just gonna let it all out”?
I wasn’t seeing my girlfriend that evening and was just sat in my room reading discussion boards on training so I thought I’ll open Word and just give it a go. Then it just came out, I didn’t go over it a few times or change anything, just wrote from my heart and tried to be totally honest. I’m no writer; I got an E in English at school. It was in fact the first piece of writing I had ever written and I didn’t even plan on writing it as my weight was like my dirty secret, something I was greatly ashamed of. I only told people I trusted and would understand like the guys/girls at the gym and the odd person in the pub. Felt good to get it out there, like a massive weight off my chest (no pun intended).

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the comments and replies were hugely positive, you sadly had to deal with a few people who for some reason felt the need to have a dig at you. Can you tell us about that and how you dealt with it?
You mean those sad losers on the newspaper websites? Firstly, I won’t pretend to be Mr tough guy, it pretty much destroyed me. I’m not wanting to sound like a fanny but the main one was “I bet he looks disgusting under his clothes with loose skin, better off being fat or dead”

Since losing my weight, loose skin was my biggest fear. I tried to top myself again because of it so for some prick to say that just hit me hard, my biggest fear was if people notice it and go ewww so yeah, I had a little a cry, not going to lie, but about 90 mins later I thought don’t be a wimp, I could probably shoulder press this twat above my head, I’m twice the man he is (my character, not size).
In the end I stopped looking, I didn’t even buy the national papers I was in the next day, or any of the online stuff which I deeply regret now as 90% was actually positive comments like you said.

One thing I can do now is use this sort of thing to push me harder. The day after I completed a 13k assault course, now bearing in mind on that day I was weighing 16 and a half stone; I train for explosive power, not long distance, so every time I thought about giving in I thought of what that prick said and then I thought of all the positives too and those kept me going. I finally made it in a respectable time. I got weighed a few days later, I had lost 7 pounds. Probably muscle. Bugger.

You wrote about your dad’s part in turning your life around. How has he felt about your recent notoriety?
He’s proud. Though he always had been. His biggest worry was people taking advantage of me. An agent wanted me to do this and do that, he was just concerned about it all. He knows more than anyone how much hard work I put in, especially mentally.
I declined going on Daybreak, for which he said I was a fool. He was right, I should have gone on it but this was happening way too fast, I would’ve just been a mumbling wreck at the time. Today though I would be on there in a flash!

When we were in the pub a few weeks back you were keen to stress that the key to this sort of achievement is not the physical effort, but the mental strength. Is this something that you believe in strongly?
You need the mental strength to make the physical effort. I mentioned in my article that people may be over weight for many reasons, not just greed. You need to change your mind set, you have to fight the demons in your head that are preventing you from making the effort. Depression as many know can knock the shit out of you; you have no energy or enthusiasm. This was just one battle in my mind I had to tackle. There was many more. Physical effort is important but without the correct mindset, it’s hard to make that impact on the training side.

Having been in that position and pulled it round yourself, how would you convince someone who’d completely given up on themselves to start on the road back?
Buy my book and join our forum!
I could write pages on this Allen but the best way I can sum it up is make a start now.
Doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong or it’s only for a bit at a time. Just do what you think is right. Make the effort just like I had to.
If you try, you see results. Then you try a little harder. You see more results. Then you’re a fucking machine, seeking more knowledge to improve what you are doing and how to better yourself and make what you’re doing even more progressive.

Tell us about the work you’ve been doing and what projects you’ve got in the pipeline.

I mentioned I have never written before, well now I can’t stop! I have my book which is receiving amazing reviews; I have The Weight Loss Warriors along with Mike Pratt which is an amazing community people can go and seek help for all aspects of life as well as weight loss. I’m also writing articles for other sites and even working on the next book which will be a complete weight loss package as well as our own supplement range and clothing line.

Are you happy Mike?
Good final question. Ask me this a year ago I’d have said no. Today I feel fucking amazing! Inspiring people from all over the world is an overwhelming feeling you just cannot put into words that do it justice. I’ve made it my ambition to help others fight obesity and trust me, you know I’ll never stop until I have made the biggest impact on not only people’s lives but the weight loss market too.

All of Mike’s current work along with his EBook is available here

http://www.theweightlosswarriors.co.uk

Mr Miles’s new book is available here: http://www.tinyurl.com/disappear2014

Advertisements

18 Stone Weightloss by Mike Waudby

33 stone…..how the hell did that happen? Well, with severe depression, slow metabolism and your best friend is 3000 calories a day worth of alcohol, pretty easy.

I was a ‘geek’ at school, got bullied both at home and in the classroom which really does have a long lasting negative effect in anything you wish to achieve. But this is not an x-factor audition so I won’t start whinging how bad things was and certainly will not call my weight loss a fucking journey!

My alcoholic sister was regularly beating my mum up, blaring music in her room till 4am (she still does, she is 42 by the way) and generally being an all-round horrible cow. I reached 18 and I could and should have moved out of my parent’s home by now but all I had was a shitty car valetting job and my best grade at school was a D, this plus massive confidence issues I decided to turn to booze. Booze at the time made everything better, my heart didn’t beat as fast when my sister kicked off, I found shit T.V slightly more interesting and being sat on your own wasn’t that bad.

I always wanted to become a wrestler, and despite drinking I was hitting the gym, by the age of 20 I was benching 300 pounds for 10 reps…. and had 20 inch guns (ok, of a lot of that was fat) unfortunately though I took some pretty bad nutrition advice so despite the huge strength gains, I also got huge weight gains. By the age of 21, I was 22 stone, I still went out and socialised and got stupidly drunk, drinking a bottle of whisky before I even went out. I was with Andy “Beast” Hawkins in Sharkey’s when a girl came up to me and said “Excuse me, do you mind leaving?” “Why?” I asked. “Because you’re making me and my friends feel sick.” Wow…….fucking wow, you just destroyed me while the whole pub heard, stared and laughed. That was the last time I went out in public, apart from going to doctor’s for 7 years.

My life now started with alcohol, I needed it, locked in my bedroom away from the chaos. It made……well, made me just less bored. Andy would visit now and then and we would drink and talk shit but other than that, it was just me for 7 years (oh, and whisky, beer and whatever was cheap) I would order my drink online and have it delivered. My God my maths was good, I could calculate in my head quantity, amount of units and compare all the prices within seconds. I got the most for the money!

Apart from watching TV for 7 years, there was the internet….in particular my female friends. I would talk to girls for hours on MSN or MySpace; one is even a page 3 girl now. In all there were 7, I kept them interested with my personality, unfortunately they had no idea I was 33 stone. I know this wasn’t fair on them but I was drunk and lonely. And it’s not like we were in love, we just had a giggle and talked for hours. Obviously they eventually wanted pictures and when I didn’t deliver, I don’t blame them for disappearing.

The eyes of a man who'd given up.

The eyes of a man who’d given up.

One night while listening to GNR with my headphones I thought what life is this? I had terrible pains where I put my body as so much weight was on it, even resting my arm on the armrest would result in shooting pains in my fingers, I was too scared to go to a gym as people pointed and laughed at me in the street so I thought fuck it, drunk 2 bottles of whisky (Jackobite….blah) 8 cans of Stella and as many paracetamol and valium tablets I could find. I lost consciousness listening to my fav band GNR. I remember waking up, no headache, no pains just a sickening feeling that I was still here and not dead.

I spent most nights after this continuing to get drunk and crying myself to sleep. I could go a lot deeper into my thoughts at the time but I’ll stop here and tell you what I did to save my life. One night, God knows what you call it but reality set in, I’ve wasted everything and lost everything, the only person that can do something is me. I ordered a cross-trainer off the internet, set it up in my room and gave it a test. Wasn’t bad, seemed to handle my weight. That night I didn’t drink. First time in about 9 years and fuck me it was hard! I woke up about 7 times that night like something was stabbing me in the chest and I couldn’t breathe. Weird shit but morning came and I got through day 1. Cross trainer time! Jumped on and worked a sweat up fast, wow I thought I’m doing ace, getting really out of breath though, and thought “best stop.” Reckoned I was on there for a good 10 mins…… looked down it was 2 min 22 secs. Oh.

Something clicked though, I think the thought of me being locked away and couldn’t escape to do something about my weight…..well, that’s not an issue now, I can do something and I fucking damn well did. I built up to three 1-hour sessions a day and didn’t touch a drop of booze! It took about 6 weeks for the stabbing pains/seeing black things move in the corner of my eye to stop but I was away, I was doing something about it. Saying that, it was mentally the hardest thing I’ve endured; why did I let other people affect me to the point that I ended up this bad? Why didn’t I punch that bully in the face? Many more things…. Every session on the cross strainer ended up with me taking my 4XL dripping wet t-shirt off and just looking down at my belly crying. But each time I picked myself up and carried on. My father who I fell out with years ago so admired and was proud of what I was doing he started talking with me again, and thank god he did because without his support I could have cracked up……even more! I smashed that cross-trainer’s bearings about 8 times with my weight and power, luckily my dad was an engineer and fixed it instantly as he knew how important it was.

It took 18 months for me to lose 18 stone, the demons in my head along the way were still there and now I had a major problem. Loose skin. I looked disgusting, everything I did I felt was a waste, doctor wouldn’t help me, I felt just as disgusting as I did when I was 33 stone. I started to leave the home again, fucking terrified but got back to my old gym and even found a local pub (Diet Coke.) I needed to do something, and I ended up paying for skin on my stomach and upper arms to be removed. Recovery was tough living with a mentalist; I couldn’t straighten up for 4 weeks so when I hobbled anywhere my sister used to try and scare me by charging at me. If I did jump up, I would have literally ripped my stomach back open. Anyway, I still wasn’t happy and my father agreed to help me (as I worked for him doing odd jobs) to pay for the 6 hour long op, where I was awake while Dr Fucktard rammed rods inside me and burnt my skin from the inside in an attempt to tighten it. What made it worse was I had no body fat left, which made it harder for him to ram his bloody rods through me. Longest op he ever performed, that. He got concerned saying he should stop but I looked him cold in the eye and told him I don’t give a fuck about the pain (believe me, it was torture) get on with it. Worst of all, during the op was his assistant, a pretty little blonde girl pinning me down while I was wearing nothing but see-through paper fucking pants. What had an effect on me though was this was the first girl to see me naked in 10 years, and I overheard her say to the receptionist after the operation “He’s real hot.” Me??? ME???????? Maybe I’m not that disgusting after all then.

Eight weeks later, the operation had been a fail, did naff all and coward here wanted the easy way out again, and did the same thing again only this time I woke up in hospital. Without speaking to anyone I grabbed my jacket and headed to my local (I had a crush on the barmaid) I sat in there and realised I couldn’t keep giving up, I’m stronger than this, so I went home I started researching how to train properly. I hit the gym hard! In fact I crawled out of that place and if I didn’t then I needed to train harder. My diet was terrible, still clean and nothing unhealthy just consuming 450grams of protein a day which I suppose is why I put the muscle on as I now know half of that protein was used as fuel (I don’t recommend this) as well as repairing my muscle as I didn’t eat carbs.
So, I’m a guy with a shitty job, obsessed with training and scared to take his top off. Not that appealing to women but my god I wanted one, 10 years alone took its toll! People would tell me oh, I bet you wanna go out and shag a load of birds eh?

In fact they couldn’t have been more wrong. I spent 10 years alone; I wasn’t after a shag, I was after a friend, someone to share good times with, and someone that would love me for me. I had hot girls paying attention but it just didn’t turn me on, I needed to know them, connect, and feel something and most of all trust them….certainly not these girls. Yeah I put pics on facebook posing but I was covering up all my bad bits, I needed to know if that girl would either think “That’s nowt, no one’s perfect” or “Ewww that’s disgusting.” If it was ewww then I would be back to square one again. So seeing as I had no confidence and I’d lost most of my friends, I didn’t go out round town, I thought why not try a dating site. GOT A DATE!!! She was a very attractive, tattooed girl with same taste in music as me. Told her all about me, she didn’t seem to care and was eager to meet. So off I went to meet her in Dram shop. I was actually shitting myself, I was sweating like a pig but she saw me and she liked it, in fact she was a bit full-on! I didn’t know how to respond. Anyways, we went on a few more dates, ended up at hers to sleep over. Yes I kept my boxers on and my t-shirt!! Ha ha, no hanky-panky but when I woke she had a feel! You just know! So, next night she actually begged me for sex, now remember this is the guy who got told to go home because I was so fat and ugly….. now being begged for sex…… awesome!!! I turned her down, didn’t feel right. Pissed her off, dumped me the next day!

I had a couple more dates, really nice girls but didn’t lead to anything then this one came along, arranged our first date at her home, no makeup and in her PJ’s (fanks for making the effort) but as I got to know her better this was just her attitude, take me as I am or fuck off. Fair enough! Morgan, her name was (now my girlfriend of 15 months.) She nicknamed me to her friends as Mr Muscles, which I liked but thought dude, you haven’t seen my loose skin. One evening she mentioned she wasn’t keen on hard muscular blokes…….honey, you’re touching the wrong places!! Anyway, six weeks in and a horse she was riding slipped with her on it and it smashed her ankle to pieces. I practically moved in to look after her. This was a massive sudden jump for me but you know what, to this day she does not even notice my loose skin and tells me my body is perfect as it is. This means more than anything to me, which is why I put up with the bossy cow (haha only playing.) We have our ups and downs but who doesn’t?

Right, I have a woman in my life, next step a proper career. Seeing as I’m gym-mad and had lost 18 stone it made sense to become a personal trainer. So that’s what I did. It’s more than that though, I want to help people with the mental and emotional sides of losing weight, I have the experience why not use it to help others instead of them having gastric bands? (Don’t even get me started on that.)

Mr Muscles... hiding the worst bits.

Mr Muscles… hiding the worst bits.

I’m still body conscious, I’m 6’1 232 pounds and around 15% bodyfat….I should look like a front cover model of men’s fitness magazine but I don’t due to my skin. Yeah, It really pisses me off because I train my ass off for it but then I remember there’s more to life! But one thing I will never stop doing: trying to correct what I put wrong. Yeah I was weak and did cowardly things but now I’m strong, seriously strong and nothing can stop me. I will fight for what I want to achieve in life till the end. And my confidence has increased too, I can walk into any rough pub and say that better be diet coke you put in that drink despite yobbish looking chavs looking at me like I’m some wuss. In fact one guy once said “You puff, can’t you drink?” Actually yes, I still enjoy a drink and I can still seriously drink, a lot more than you, you Jeremy Kyle watching….. I won’t mention what else I said but I am now barred from that pub.

Reality is, I do have to watch what I eat/drink but I don’t mind, I have awesome people around me, the guys at workout gym have supported me throughout; my girlfriend; I get loads of support and advice at Beverly Leisure Centre where Morgan had her physio. I have a lot to learn in life still, also in my job. But one thing I do have that other PT’s don’t, and that’s experience in weight loss, something you can’t learn out of a text book!

Sorry I haven’t been as witty and funny as the others that post on here (I do enjoy reading them) but this has been more of a mini life story about something pretty shit. I would like to finish by saying, try not to judge every overweight person as someone who is just weak and greedy. Yeah, you see a couple of big chavvy women gobbing it loudly, they clearly don’t have confidence issues and probably are just plain greedy and lazy but there are those who are shy, nervous and you probably have no idea how scared and uncomfortable they are with their appearance but there is something making them do what they do, and if that something went away, they probably wouldn’t look like that. That’s where I would like to think I can come in and make a change using my own experience. Getting a diet and simple training plan is straightforward, having someone to guide you through the emotional stress and to genuinely feel your struggle, that’s where I can hold their hand through the worst and eventually, kick some fucking arse in the gym!

mike profileMike Waudby is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is a huge rock fan and his favourite band are Guns N Roses. When he was a wee whipper-snapper he had a Vauxhall Nova with a number plate that ended CNT. His pet hatred is people who don’t put the weights away at the gym and he’s one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. You can find him on facebook here.

Paul Gascoigne: A Pre-Emptive Requiem by Allen Miles

I have always been absolutely baffled when public figures die and people I know get really upset. I cannot understand why the death of someone you have never met would ever affect you personally. I remember being utterly bewildered as a fifteen year-old when the tidal wave of public tears and chest-beating greeted the death of Princess Diana. The thousands that lined the streets for her funeral, with their bloodshot eyes and quivering hands, none of them had ever met her, let alone formed any sort of personal relationship with her, so why did they get overtaken by these emotions? I remember being out one Saturday night and news got round the club that Layne Staley of Alice In Chains had been found dead after a massive heroin overdose. People were actually crying in the club. The man lived 4700 miles away in Seattle, and had probably never heard of Hull, yet people in Hull felt compelled to grieve openly about his demise. I didn’t understand.

The only time I’ve been slightly melancholy about the death of someone whom I’d never met came in 2009, with the death of former England manager Sir Bobby Robson. Robson had a reputation as the nicest man in football, commanded enormous respect on the world stage for his tactical knowledge and success all over Europe, and had been heavily involved in the development of some of the greatest talents of all time, figures such as Romario, Jose Mourinho and Ronaldo. He also gave me the definitive memory of my childhood, England’s barnstorming performance at Italia 90, and Italia 90 is my favourite thing of all time. He was a relentlessly positive man, and upon learning that he was suffering terminal cancer in 2008, having beaten the disease on three previous occasions, he said: “My condition is described as static and has not altered since my last bout of chemotherapy… I am going to die sooner rather than later. But then everyone has to go sometime and I have enjoyed every minute.” On the 26th Of July, 2009, a mere five days before his death, he made his last public appearance at a recreation of the Italia 90 semi-final against Germany, and almost all of the original players turned out in the name of The Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trust. Robson was scheduled to make an appearance in the director’s box but true to his persona, he insisted on being wheeled out onto the pitch to thank each player individually with a handshake. As he went down the line it was titilating to see the 1990 squad nearly twenty years later, broader of waistline (John Barnes,) higher of hairline (Mark Wright,) or both (David Platt,) but they were all instantly recognisable, apart from this one figure, a wiry, wizened man with a stringy neck and anaemic looking arms, who greeted Robson with an almost desperate enthusiasm, and as the Knight of the Realm released this man’s hand he looked on after him with hollow cheeks and the eyes of a puppy whose master had just abandoned him in the woods. This man had been the star of the show at Italia 90, and changed English football, and arguably world football,  forever at that tournament. He was unrecognizable from the old pictures. It was Paul Gascoigne, England’s greatest ever professional footballer. And Paul Gascoigne is going to die soon.

paul-gascoigne-with-sir-bobby-robson-2930519-1389990

This week we have seen him in the press yet again following another relapse into his alcohol addiction, which led to an arrest for affray. The desperation of the story was that he was not arrested at some trendy Soho nightclub or Mayfair hotel, places where the current breed of football superstars conduct their misdemeanours these days, but at Stevenage Railway Station on the platform. This followed an incident this February where he was taken into intensive care in a rehab clinic in Arizona, paid for by his great buddy, 1996’s Chris Evans. Gascoigne suffered such intense alcohol withdrawal that he had to be strapped to a bed, where he had to be revived three times after his heart stopped, and repeatedly injected with librium. A few months later he had made a public appearance at a sports event where he was due to give an after dinner speech during which, according to witnesses, he began rambling incoherently and frequently broke down into tears.

For those of you who are too young to have seen Gazza play, ignore the general comparison to Wayne Rooney that seems to get wheeled out by the press these days. It is unhelpful for many reasons; for a start Gascoigne was a far superior player, but the major difference is that Wayne Rooney is a brilliant player who can occasionally behave like an overgrown seven year-old. Gascoigne was an overgrown seven year old who occasionally behaved like a brilliant player. In many ways it is unhelpful to talk about his playing career at all as what we are dealing with here is a man who suffers from savage bi-polar disorder and OCD, and is also completely helpless in his battle against alcoholism, but his playing career is what defined him, made him, and will ultimately kill him.

 

Gascoigne was that rare breed of English player: The Entertainer. Driven by a child-like need to please people and be seen, there was an almost desperate air right from the start of his career, when put-downs from his Newcastle team-mates about his weight led to him behaving in increasingly bizarre ways, on one occasion stealing the groundsman’s tractor and driving it through the wall of the team’s changing room. In the build-up to the match that cemented his place in the Italia 90 squad, a friendly against Czechoslovakia, he was seen in the tunnel before the kick-off, wild-eyed and unapproachable, ferociously thrashing a ball against a wall, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings. The night before the 1991 FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal, he had to have sedative injections to get to sleep, and in one very revealing incident from just after his career-changing turn in Turin, got leglessly drunk and marched into his old primary school to berate his old teacher who had, many years ago, told him he’d never make it as a footballer. He was the most famous person in the country at this point, and had cemented his reputation as one of the greatest players in the world on the biggest stage of all, yet his fragile self-esteem still prompted the need to go and say “I told you so.”

gazza dribbling

Gazza played his last professional game in 2004 for Boston United, yet it is the critical opinion that his career effectively ended in 1991 when he went rampaging around the Wembley turf like a pitbull with a needle full of amphetamines up its arse, nearly decapitating Gary Parker and then mangling his cruciate ligaments in an idiotic lunge at Gary Charles. He was out for nearly two years after that match, having behaved like a wild animal for the fifteen minutes he was on the field, and his decline, both on a professional and personal level, began here. He wouldn’t be picked regularly for England again as Taylor and later on, Hoddle, both had misgivings about his “re-fuelling habits.” Only Terry Venables put his trust in him, and he was rewarded with Gazza’s last three decent performances at the highest level, against Scotland and Germany at Euro 96, and, at the same tournament, as the ringmaster in the 4-1 evisceration of a very decent Holland side, his greatest match in an England shirt. Two years after that, Glenn Hoddle dropped him from the France 98 squad, he was both overweight and out of form, and stood and watched as Gascoigne trashed his office in a fit of temper.

You see, what wasn’t realised at the time, before the era of sports psychologists and the like, was that in order for Gascoigne to perform with such intensity on the pitch, his adrenalin levels had to be through the roof, and when you’re reaching those self-inflicted chemical highs 50 times a season, the volatility of mood swings would be utterly uncontrollable. Imagine the most wound-up you’ve ever been in your whole life, the biggest pressure situation you’ve ever endured, be it your wedding day, the birth of a child, a really important job interview, a medical emergency you’ve been involved in, whatever, now imagine being at that level of mental and physical intensity, twice a week, having 30,000 people staring and cheering at you in rapt adoration, and the press are camped on your front doorstep every day looking to see how you react to it. How can you possibly deal with those highs and lows, particularly if you’re a less-intelligent-than-average bloke who already has embryonic mental health issues and an addictive personality? You escape. You escape into whatever brings it down for you. And in this case, Paul Gascoigne escaped into alcohol.

For the people who are reading this that have no interest in football, I have tried to think of a public figure to compare Gazza to, so you can appreciate the tragedy of this situation. Initially I thought of someone like Kerry Katona, a relatively normal person who is just not bright enough to be famous and needs someone to look after her. Kerry Katona, however, has no discernible talent and is on the telly simply because the general public enjoy watching human car-crashes. Then I thought of Ozzy Osbourne, a man who has a talent, but is out-of-control and in thrall to his vices. But again no, because Osbourne is a very wealthy man who lives in a huge mansion in LA and is taken care of by his wife, who keeps him off the booze and makes him lots of money.

No, I had to think of someone who, like Gascoigne, was an absolute master of his stage, had millions of adoring, hysterical fans, and when he wasn’t on his stage, simply didn’t know how to make his way through life, and would pick up all manner of grotesque hangers-on who just wanted to fleece him of his money. He would develop an addiction to mind-numbing substances and would blow all of his wealth, another deeply-disturbed man-child who on some level, possessed that rare trait that we know as “genius.”

MichaelJackson_Wide_620x350

And as we choose to remember Michael Jackson for the video to Billie Jean rather than his squalid court cases and the horrific self-inflicted facial disfigurements, let us hark back to the 2nd most famous photograph in English football history, the photograph that documented how one brilliant player’s inability to control his emotions one night in Italy led to an irreversible change in the English game, how it was dragged out of the doldrums of hooliganism and right wing politics to be the billion-pound entertainment industry, that, for better or worse, we all subscribe to today. Look at the carved stomach muscles and tree-trunk thighs of a player who, for much of his career was derided for being fat; a player who, for much of his career, was the best on the planet.

gazza turin

 

It is difficult and heart-breaking to equate the gaunt and frail looking figure that is the Paul Gascoigne of today to that photo. And it is deeply upsetting to watch the perpetual chain of humiliations that his life has become, whether it be turning up at a police barrier to give a lunatic who’d gone beserk with a shotgun some fried chicken and a fishing rod, or cashing in by giving “confessional interviews” to parasitic vermin like Piers Morgan. His friend and former team-mate, Gary Lineker, recently spouted up on twitter with the following:

“Lots of you asking for my thoughts on Gazza’s plight. I can only hope he finds peace somehow, but fear those hopes maybe forlorn.”

And Lineker is right, Paul Gascoigne is going to die soon. Whether he commits suicide, poisons his liver beyond repair or drunkenly toddles out in front of a bus, unless he finds someone who can nail the thought into his brain that he has to stop drinking, he will end up dead. And when he dies, a big chunk of my childhood will die as well. This is the saddest story professional sport has to offer. If you don’t want to shed a tear, don’t look at the following video.

 

profile b and wAllen Miles is 31 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 2 year-old daughter who is into Queens Of The Stone Age. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of 18 Days, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/8d2pysx

Why Talk About Something Else? by Paul Featherstone

The recent revelations surrounding the suicide attempts of Stephen Fry and Paris Jackson have once again raised the issue of mental health in the public spotlight. However, in the case of the young Jackson, rather than the even-handed approach that would have been dealt out to any normal 15 year-old, coming to terms with the untimely death of their father, it was, with a crushing inevitability, splashed across the front of every tabloid. The headlines positively dripped with glee that, even though the main source had perished, the Jackson family show rolled on, just when it seemed the children may end it with their party-pooping normality.

I then read with abject horror, as Fry revealed on Twitter that he had been doorstepped by a journalist, the day after revealing on a radio show of his own attempt to take his life in 2012.

Fry’s long battle with depression is well documented, and whilst it is not entirely un-newsworthy that one of Britain’s most loved entertainers had attempted to end their life, where is the line? Is it acceptable to seek someone out, and then aggressively question them in the street about the most personal of matters. More importantly? What does that say about our continuing attitude to mental health in this country?

The suicide of Gary Speed, the Wales football manager, hit me hard on the day it was announced. He wasn’t my favourite footballer of all time. I wasn’t a die-hard Bolton, Newcastle or Leeds fan. In fact, he was merely a promising football manager to me, who was starting to turn around the incredibly poor fortunes of his national team.

What resonated was the fact he had seemed so happy and normal, with a life to behold from the outside looking in, complete with a Wife and family. Everybody in football who spoke of him, had never known he had any problems that would indicate he would ever take such action.

You see that was me. For a long period of my life, from my teens to my mid-twenties, I was outwardly happy and inwardly being crushed by bouts of depression. Rather foolishly, like Speed, I rarely opened up to anyone about it, and if I did, just brushed it off the next day, almost out of some kind of mis-guided shame. I’m much happier now, heavily due to my life with my fiancee and those I care about around me, but if I wasn’t, would I open up about it? I doubt it.

For me, mental health is just that. The brain is an organ that operates vast functions, beyond the compare of any in our body. One of those is the well-being of our inner consciousness, and sometimes that can go wrong – the organ is not as healthy as it might be. Sometimes for a short period of time, sometimes for a whole life or as in my case, it was on and off for several years.

So why not mention it? Why suffer for such an long time, in relative solitude? If the illness is surely one of genetics, being that the mind is not firing quite right beyond my own control, why shield it from view? If anything else in your body stops working correctly beyond your control, should you really feel ashamed? Would a Paralympian be ashamed that their limb did not work to it’s full capacity? If asked about it, why should I want to talk about something else?

Yet millions of other people in the world feel the need to suffer alone, without the help needed for their mind, and that quite often is down to society’s attitude to mental health. It’s relatively easy to sit and type these things from the comfort blanket of a keyboard, but I couldn’t verbalise them. The vast majority of that comes from that British embarrassment in admitting that you can’t or couldn’t cope with things but also, if you do open up, what would people think? How many of us have dismissed someone with depression, or given them a wide berth because they are “mental?”

That sometimes extends from fear of the different, but also people have the natural cynicism that the person is making it up “for attention”, but what if the person wants that attention to just be able to open up?

Undoubtedly many people reading this piece will have pointed and sniggered at high profile people such as Kerry Katona, Paul Gascoigne and Britney Spears, as they suffered various mental health issues in the spotlight, but would we react the same if that was our father or sister? Of course we wouldn’t.

The same can be said towards the public attitude to anyone suffering dementia. How often have you avoided or got annoyed at a confused old man, when if it was your grandfather or father, you would help him find his way home or what he needed in the shop?

So, the sufferer puts up the public show that all is fine, when internally it couldn’t be further from the truth. I was always the life and soul of a party, burying myself in drink before going home to face the fact that the drinking had only made matters worse. Sometimes, I would drink too much and the act would drop, then the next day it would be forgotten or pinned on too many ales. All once again, down to that shame attached.

So there needs to be huge work in our society to remove the stigma attached to this. I feel uncomfortable typing this right now, I will do even more so when it posted. There pulse is a little faster and the breathing a little shorter, yet all I am doing is talking about a part of my life that is now (thankfully) over.

There is so much work going on for sections of our society such as those who are disabled, or suffering from cancer, or any other health issue, to shout out and not be ashamed of what they are going through, but there is still so far to go with regards to mental health.

Yes, Stephen Fry and Paris Jackson should be afforded the privacy to deal with their own issues in their own time and with the people they wish too, but should they feel the need to hide from prying eyes what they chose to do in attempting suicide? No, because once in a while someone will check in that they are okay, and lend them an ear to talk things through.

The most foolish of things to do is to lock it all away and suffer it alone. Society needs to be in a position to allow and encourage them, and others, to open up about what is going on inside their heads, when they feel comfortable to.

Splashing it across a front page and treating it as something alien, will only cause that teenager at home going through the same thing, to clam up and put on the old, familiar show.

It’s not that alien, it’s incredibly human, and it’s going on in so many places you wouldn’t think.

 

Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff