At the minute I am transferring some of my previous TV work into the digital domain so I can up load it on to You Tube, in the hope that it might get me back into the media. While most of what I did was really very good, even if I say so myself, there are some items that made me squirm as I watched them. Back in the early 2000’s I was regularly asked to come in to the BBC’s News 24 studio to review the newspapers. I thought I was there to be a bit out spoken and unlike the usual paper reviewers, who were normally editors and columnists from those very papers and I remember my appearances as being quiet rational fun comment on the news of the time.
Oh boy, was I wrong. As I watched 5 minute clip after 5 minute clip, I found myself wanting to go back in time and slap myself. OK, there was the standard Mik Scarlet left wing rantiness which any of my regular readers know and love (?), but I also had a few subjects that seemed to throw me into a crazy irrational state. One of my favourite targets was the farming industry. At this time Foot and Mouth gripped the UK farming industry, and the hunting ban was being discussed. Yes, I have strong beliefs on methods used in modern farming and equally strong feelings on hunting (and the current cull of badgers being considered at the minute) but I seemed unable to even see the opposing view.
As I realized just how many reviews I had done, and how often I seemed to go off on a crazy rant on various personal hot topics, I felt feelings of shame and embarrassment creep over me. Just as I was about to rush towards the off switch of my coping machine to prevent me anyone from ever seeing me make a fool of myself, it hit me. This was a really bad time for me. I had found it necessary to stop working as a presenter, due to ill health, and this was pretty much the only work I was doing at that point. I know myself well enough to see that this angry 30 something in front of me had been made that way as he was in the grip of a serious and life threatening problem with his spine. Yeah most other people would have tried to be measured and thinking of the future, but I was really unsure I’d have one and so felt this was my chance to comment on things I felt were as unfair as my illness. I have always found that getting angry when I’m ill gets me through. It might not make me fun to work with, or the nicest guy, but the energy it creates gives me the strength to get through.
The weird thing is this is the first time I have been able to see myself during one of these phases, and it has really freaked me out. I look back on that time and know how bad it was and I now feel I owe a debt of gratitude to anyone who stuck with me. Especially my wife. I also would like to say sorry to anyone who found me difficult going during this time. I know I alienated some of my friends and people I worked with, and I also know that my attitude during this period did effect my career. To anyone who worked with me between 1999 and 2005, I am sorry if I was an arse. I hope you understand… and might even forgive me?
As well as the realization of why I was so confrontational, I found myself confronted with the truth that your state of mind can really effect your politics and beliefs. The stress and worry of being so ill had robbed me of my ability to show any empathy, and I wonder if the entire country is not going through something similar at the minute? The dire financial situation, and personal worries regarding money and jobs is causing society to become like I was during my newspaper reviews. Fixed in an extreme position and unable to see how that position might effect other people.
So I ask everyone who reads this to remember this phase will pass. I am now back to full health, and feel much more positive. The world will come out of this period of financial chaos. When it does, and it looks back on all the things it did and said during the fear and worry of it’s past, I hope it hasn’t done anything that can’t be undone. I’m lucky. Most of the stuff I have appeared in on TV exists almost no where except in my box of VHS tapes, and now on my PC. I doubt I’ll put the more extreme ranting online for others to see, and I will definitely learn from my mistakes. As a society we might not be so fortunate. Major changes to our society made while we are frantically scrambling around for a solution for our current hassles might really damage the steps forward we have made, and may never be able to be undone. I won’t say what changes, but I do hope we really examine what legacy each new decision and direction we take will leave behind. If we do, we will not have the awful feeling of looking back to wish we could undo something that caused great suffering during a difficult period.
On a lighter note, the one great thing about looking back at footage of a younger me is that I haven’t aged anywhere near as much as I thought I had. In fact I even look better now than I did in some clips. So while I hope I may be wiser, I don’t look that much older. Now that has made me smile… a huge wide cheesy smile. Tee hee.