Eastbourne politician Tony Freebody’s honest and frank words in my column last week about his struggle with mental health prompted a flood of comments from people who were glad he raised what is still seen as a taboo subject – even though we constantly told it’s okay to be not okay and it’s good to talk. Most people said it was heartening to hear him talk so openly and it is of course nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of people thought it was me talking so candidly about my own mental health as opposed to Tony. So apologies if I didn’t make it clear I was handing over some column inches to him. Most people know that I have too struggled with mental health and even now frequently “wrestle with the black dog”. It started when I lost my mother when I was three months pregnant with my son; then came severe post natal depression following the arrival of my daughter and, when my father died as I turned 40, there were episodes which were so bad I almost drove into the path of an oncoming lorry one day. There were times my husband was glad all the knives were in the dishwasher, so acute was the black cloud hanging over my head. These days I am lucky enough to have some wonderful family and friends who help me no end and, more importantly, understand when I’m a bit down. Talking is a wonderful therapy – as is swimming most days and trying to clock up 10,000 steps a day. Like I say, it started 20 years ago. I’d love to report that it has ended but it hasn’t and probably never will. But I know I am not alone. And talking about it always helps.
Last Sunday I went to the lovely Royal Hippodrome Theatre to watch my friend Miles Jenner tread the boards. Miles is not only the head brewer at Harveys but an accomplished thespian. His portrayal of Billy Merson in If I Catch Alfonso Tonight was brilliant, funny and hugely entertaining. Merson’s career spanned half a century of theatrical history, encompassing music hall, revue, musical comedy and cinema – all set against the backdrop of two world wars – and the musical play features extracts from 16 of his comic songs. Aside from the performance, it was great to see the wonderful work carried out by Alex and Debbie Adams at the theatre. The couple, together with the volunteers at the Hippdrome, make it such a special place and now the entrance foyer has been completely refurbished. It looks stunning with some wonderful wallpaper and a great new box office. Another jewel in its sparkling crown.
Just as the houses on what used to be Unwins in Priory Road are complete, a planning application has gone in to build on a little bit of green space in The Rising, opposite the Priory Road junction. I see the vehicles that were parked up there can now no longer do so thanks to wooden stakes being driven into the grass verge. Ho hum.
Finally this week, no, it’s not me bouncing along in the pram in the photo above but a poster to mark World Car Free Day on Sunday September 22 when people will be riding the seafront to once again call for a safer cycle route.