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A Knotty Interview

Posted by Dr No on 16 August 2014

jimbo_wingnut.JPGScene: The Today Programme Studio, sometime after half past seven on Saturday 16th August 2014.

Jimbo (smugly): It’s sixteen minutes to eight and I’m James Knock-Care-Tea. Actually, it’s sixteen and a bit minutes to eight but you know what we say here in the Today studio: close enough is good enough in horseshoes, hand grenades and time signals. So, there you go. Now it really is sixteen minutes to eight – and I really am James Knock-Care-Tea. (chuckles) You can tell I’m the real McCoy because I’m already rambling, and we’re not yet half way through the programme. But I digress. We were all struck this last week, that is the week that’s just gone by, by the tragic untimely death of an actor we all love so very much. I’m talking, of course, about the tragic untimely death not of Lauren Bacall, though we all loved her very much too, but of Robin Williams, a death the authorities are now saying was, in their view, taken in the round, probably suicide, though we still don’t know for certain. The brief snuffing out of a life. Here today, gone tomorrow and all that sort of thing. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. Tragic… We spoke yesterday to Nimrod Windbag-Hoover, the well known poet, about his epic struggle with depression, that is, that terrible disease clinical depression. I’m not sure why we spoke to him, because he didn’t have much to say after I’d spent most of the slot going round the houses not saying very much at all, but there you go. It really is quite marvellous how I can manage not just a minute but several minutes without hesitation deviation or repetition. Perhaps I should have a word with Nicholas Parsons. Or make that three. (chuckles) Now, where was I? We were going to talk to Alex Salmond, about his non-plans for a non-currency union, but even I’m getting bored with that one, even though, as we speak, tension is building as the Scottish Independence vote gets nearer by the day. We’ll come back to that later in the programme. Instead, I’ve got here in the studio with me Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal Collage of Psychiatrists. The ones, you know, who look into head cases, not that I’ve ever been there myself. Now, Sir Simon, if I can call you that, there’s this terrible dreadful thing called clinical depression. Not just feeling low, but a big black bean bag of a downer, like a Glaswegian dusk in winter. All the lights go out. They say Mr Churchill – Sir Winston Churchill, that is, the well known politician from a few years back - had a name for it, the black dog. We all know the feeling, because we’ve all been there. I get the same feeling about doing another programme on Scottish Independence, but let’s not go there just now. And then there is this stigma attached to mental illness. There’s a lot of it about, but no one likes to talk about it. Least of all me, but there you go, its Radio Four and I’m live on air on the Today programme, and somebody’s got to do the talking, and it might as well be me. Isn’t it about time we got depression out into the open, into the light you might say? Into the open, that is, where we can see it and talk about it openly? I ask, because not enough people do that. They sweep it under the carpet, so to speak, where it festers, like an auld haggis stuck down the side of a wee cupboard. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? They say something like one in think-of-a-number — not that we do numbers on the Today programme — people suffer with depression at any one time. That’s quite a big number, whatever that number is. Tragic. Enough to make anyone depressed. Thanks Sir Simon, for coming in today. That was Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, here on the Today programme at exactly ten minutes to eight this fine Saturday morning. Well, actually, it’s not exactly ten minutes to eight, but as we say here on the Today programme, close enough is good enough…

Wellesley (distant): Hullo…

Wingnut (cutting across Wessely, brightly): It is ten to eight, and time for Thought for the Day with our very own James Naughtie.

Jimbo (even more smugly): It’s now just gone ten minutes to eight. Good Morning. Last week we were all struck by the tragic untimely death…


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