Regular readers of the Eddy Says column will know that Eddy is an ambassador for mental health charity CALM, aka the Campaign Against Living Miserably. The organisation aims to reduce the suicide rate amongst young men and stop it from being the biggest cause of death for men under 35 in the UK. An important part of this is simply trying to get men to discuss their feelings, something Eddy has written about before, and this week he hands over to Embrace frontman Danny McNamara, who has done just that. But first, as way of an introduction, Eddy recalls his first meeting with Danny, way back when he worked for MTV.
Eve, then MTV’s Talent & Artist Relations fox, sashayed down the runway between the desks at MTV-UK Production. She had the best walk I’ve ever seen, and worked that strip of flooring like the catwalk of an Alexander McQueen show. She was making a b-line for my desk.
“Hey gorgeous, how are you?”
“Good. You’re going to love this – Embrace are coming in to do a special”, she said, excitedly. The excitement was infectious, she knew I was a big Embrace fan.
“What on my show?” I asked.
“No, a full, hour-long Embrace special, live performance and interview, and here’s the thing, they’ve put in a special request – effectively they’ll only do the interview if YOU do it – seems you have friends in high places”.
“I’ve never met them”, I said. “But that’s so cool, thanks Eve!”
I felt really flattered. Why would a band I’ve never met specifically ask for me to interview them? Embrace always connected with me on an emotional level. You’re aware – if you read this column – that I’m not afraid to tell the truth, no matter what the consequences, and that I wear my heart on my sleeve. Embrace always did that too, and I loved them for it. I saw them play at Brixton Academy, at the height of their popularity, and they made the place feel like one big family.
So come the day of the special, I went to MTV earlier than the time I was told to arrive, so I could see the live performance being recorded too. I stood behind the director and vision mixer, in this dark gallery, watching the band go through their set. At one point Danny – whom I’d still never met – halted proceedings.
“Hang on a minute”, he said in his broad Yorkshire twang. “I don’t know if Eddy Temple-Morris is watching this right now, but if he is, I just wanna tell ‘im summat: Eddy, thank you for all the lovely things you’ve said about uz – it means a lot”.
It’s true I had been gushing – as I do when I love something – on my MTV show. It’s funny how these things trickle through the ether and hit home. I never thought they might actually be watching when I was enthusing about their music.
The hug I gave him when we met a little later for the interview was big and long.
It went well, and provided a foundation for a relationship that’s lasted until now. I’ve interviewed the band several times over the years, but more importantly, Danny became a friend. More than that, a good friend, one of my nearest and dearest. We’ve always stayed in touch and see each other regularly. Danny is a great friend and a shining example of a man, because he approaches relationships in a very feminine way. And I can’t give more of a compliment than that.
He’s a fantastic listener, which most men aren’t. He’s a great communicator, and most men are terrible at that. And he’s also a fantastic giver of honest feedback and advice. He’ll always call a spade a spade, and never be afraid to bring up an awkward subject, and these are the things we HAVE to communicate about more often. In the context of the male suicide charity I work for, CALM, Danny is a paragon of what a man should ideally be when it comes to simply communicating with people.
But even Danny has carried a dark secret that he’s never shared with anyone but his closest friends. He spent four years fighting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It nearly killed him. It’s something that takes huge guts to put out there, and that’s what he did last week via Twitter and Tumblr, and it’s something I have huge admiration for.
His motives were commendable. Tweeting a link to a Tumblr post about his struggle with PTSD, he wrote: “OK here it is, be gentle with me, it’s taken me 20 years to pluck up the courage, but hopefully it might help someone”. And of course it will. I know it will, because I’ve talked to so many men with depression, or bi-polar disorder, and when somebody like Danny comes out like this and says “I’m one of you” that is a powerful bit of empathy and a priceless awareness raiser. It gets people talking, more to the point it gets them talking about something they never normally talk about. That is golden. That is half the battle won.
Danny’s been touched by people coming out and talking about mental illness, getting it out there. It’s a cause very close to my heart, as you know, so I found this whole thing fascinating and very moving.
I love you Danny, I always will, through thick or thin, so this week it’s not Eddy Says, it’s Danny Says. Read his blog post here.