It was at the airport that I first began to feel the poison of the British media washing out of me. I hadn't seen the news, looked at the internet or read a newspaper in hours... life was becoming so much better already. I could just enjoy my holiday in peace.
And then, of course, I saw it.
GAZZA'S SUICIDE BID. The front page of the Sun.
What I didn't know then, and didn't know for the past week, was that a confederacy of wankers have been on the phone to the Currant, keeping them up to date about Paul Gascoigne's behaviour. These locusts, just a phone call away from a £200 spotter's fee (if they're lucky) from Britain's No 1 scumbucket newsrag, saw a man clearly distressed and unhappy, clearly in trouble and desperate, but did nothing. Nyet. Nada. Fuck all. Except ring the Bun when they thought there might be a few smackers in it for them.
Cunts. Human beings are bastards at the best of times, but there's something about the tabloids that really brings out the worst. Have a look at how Gascoigne (I'm calling him by his real name here, and there's a reason for it which I'll come to in a moment) was followed around all day, everyone looking on and pointing and laughing at a man disintegrating in public. And what did they do to help? Did they do anything?
And then when Gascoigne was found by hotel staff and police - after someone had at last intervened to try and help him - did he not deserve privacy? Did he not deserve dignity at a time when he was possibly at his lowest? No. Oh no! I can make a few quid by telling the Sun newsdesk! That's what I'll do. Yes, I know that a fellow human being is in a terrible state, hurting and miserable, vulnerable and sad, but I couldn't give a shit! I just want to make a couple of quid!
Now that's Broken Britain, David Cameron. Dung-beetles making a couple of bob by ringing the Sun and telling the sordid details of someone's most miserable, most private moments. That's perfectly legal, perfectly acceptable, and the likes of Cameron - I shouldn't really pick on him, as it's not just him at all, but he is a weaselly politician who wouldn't ever dare challenge anything the Sun ever said or did - don't give a shit. Don't care that human beings would do this to someone in distress. Don't speak out about this horrific hyena-like behaviour.
As I mentioned way back (it seems so long ago) with the death of Mark Speight, I think that the media really do have a responsibility when it comes to suicide, the reporting of mental illness and a responsibility to think very carefully about how they treat the behaviour of someone who is struggling with very complicated and difficult issues. Let's not forget that most of us will come into contact with mental illness in our lives, either through experiencing it ourselves or through someone close to us. What would we want, should we ever come to a place where we feel like we can't go on? Would we be all right with cameras being pointed at us all day, following us around, passers-by doing nothing except ringing the newspapers when they thing there might be a few quid in it?
Might the presence of all those cameras aimed at Gascoigne on that day have had something to do with his distress? Did it made him feel better, or worse? Might it have contributed to his behaviour? If so, how should we feel about seeing pictures of him on that day? Is that all right? Is that acceptable, because he's a public figure and therefore deserves no right to privacy, ever?
And what if Gascoigne had killed himself - what then? What would those smug bastards who did nothing to help him, but made money from the tabloids, think about their behaviour then? Sadly, they probably wouldn't have given a shit. Just like they didn't give a shit when they saw Gascoigne.
The Scum, of course, has form in this area.
If you have as rubbish a browser as I do, it's a photo of the Sun's classic 'BONKERS BRUNO LOCKED UP'. Yes, because a man who is bipolar is BONKERS. And when you are detained under the mental health act, you are LOCKED UP. Such a sensitive, kind and intelligent way of dealing with a human being's most troubling and vulnerable stage.
Of course, they quickly shat themselves after a torrent of protest. And I think they're trying to head off criticism at the pass this time, by having a readers' messageboard where Sun nuts can electronically crayon down their best wishes to Paul Gascoigne. "See?" says the Sun, glibly. "We're backing Gazza all the way, and we're not really exploiting his problems and his mental illness to boost our sales, no sirree. Look at our kind and compassionate messageboard of people trying to help a man who's at his lowest ebb."
Oh, and you just know that the Sun will try and claim some kind of bizarre kudos from this hypocrisy. There'll be a story about "BRAVE Gazza has thanked THE SUN for sending so many readers' messages to him and bringing him back from the brink..." - you know, something so nauseatingly bullshit that the poor underpaid Sun scribbler wot wrote it will have to stab him/herself in the eyeballs with a compass just to force the lying bollocks words out of their tiny brain.
I've read Gascoigne's autobiography, the first one. It's about as heartbreakingly sad a book as you can imagine. Here is someone who has been wincingly honest about his struggle with mental illness and addiction, right throughout his life, someone who has really been to some very dark places indeed. I only ever saw him play football twice, but every time he touched the ball there was a hush around the ground. Even if he was playing against you, you kind of wanted him to do something brilliant. He was a magical player, a real genius. No wonder it's been so hard to adjust without football - the one place where Gascoigne really excelled, where he really could be free - and just be another person, the person full of contradictions and problems that he used to be able to escape when he took to the football field.
Can we please leave him alone now? He needs that, if nothing else. He clearly has very difficult and deep problems that have made him very unwell. It's a futile wish, I know, but I just wish there would be no more papped pictures, no more intrusion, no more people flogging their stories and photos for a few quid, having done nothing to try and help someone who was clearly distressed.
And please: he's Paul Gascoigne, not Gazza. He's a human being, so he deserves the name his family gave him. It also makes it harder to stick the boot into someone when you're using their real name. Gazza is like a cartoon character, if Gazza does something then that's almost as if it isn't real - but it is. It really is.
No related posts.