Thanks to my good friend Rolf, I tuned into What’s The Matter With Tony Slattery? It was shown on BBC 2 last night (21 May 2020). It was an emotional and revealing film about a very high profile comedian/actor who disappeared from public life in the 1990s as quickly as he appeared in it during the late 1980s.
The programme documents his descent from the loveable, cheeky and quick-witted regular on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and various other broadcast work, into depression, accelerated (or facilitated) by copious amounts of booze and cocaine. His current re-emergence into public life has now started with interviews, a tour and this programme, all documenting his battles with mental illness.
It was a very sensitive study into his life. The big reveal in the documentary was the tortuous sexual abuse Tony was subjected to as a small child. Was this the source of all his issues? Quite possibly, highly probably? I would dare to suggest yes, but I am not a trained therapist so this is purely my opinion. His friend of many decades Stephen Fry is quoted in the documentary – “all the ways people deal with pain if it is undiagnosed are dangerous.”
From my own experiences, I have to agree with Stephen Fry. (For the record I was not subjected to sexual abuse as a child, or as an adult for that matter). The manifestation of any individual’s pain is highly personal and unique to them. The root source of my pain is not something I’m prepared to go into right now, yet the escape from it has striking similarities to Tony Slattery’s. Not nearly as extreme I have to add with the drug abuse, but my drinking certainly was. The line from having good times and a laugh into never knowing how or when to stop and blackouts is one I crossed at some point. It was certainly used as a mask to avoid facing up to my reality. And it allowed me to completely sever all connection with my true self. And to paraphrase from this film, loss of connection with oneself leads to addiction.
Thankfully I recognised that my alcohol abuse had become a problem. As I have documented before, I am over 5-years sober; however the search for meaning in my sobriety is still on going. AA and my recent 1-2-1 therapy sessions have moved me forward but I am still working at it.
One thing I am envious of with Tony Slattery, and with many people (not all) in recovery, is their ability to maintain loving relationships with their significant partners or find new lasting relationships. I can, to a certain extent, understand the breakdown of my drinking-days relationships. I didn’t like myself very much back then. However, I have had two sober relationships, both unexpectedly ending abruptly and causing great personal anguish. I suppose I’m still on the journey to liking myself so perhaps I have a semblance of understanding towards why they broke down!
My hope is that one day very soon (I am getting on a bit now), I will grow to love myself enough to be able to find a woman with whom a relationship will develop and thrive in all aspects to the point that we will be able to forgive our misgivings as much as we can enjoy our good sides. And before I drift into self-pity, I’ll end the post here.
Apart from to let you know that the pictures here are edits from my recent walk along Macclesfield Canal from Sutton to Lyme Green. It was a very hot day, with very bright sunshine. So thanks to a fish eye lens, convenient bridges to frame shots, editing tools and inspiring music (today ‘s album of choice – A Louder Silence by Leifur James) these are the results.
What’s Wrong With Tony Slattery? – Is currently available to view on BBC iPlayer (as at the time of writing)