Back in December, I was offered an interview with Paul Gascoigne, aka Geordie former footballer Gazza. He’s not someone I’ve given much thought to up until now. I don’t follow football or read celebrity magazines or tabloids so for the most of it, he’s passed me by. I know about his football achievements, his personal problems, mental health and alcoholism, and of course that infamous Raoul Moat incident, but not much more than that.
I was in two minds about whether to do the interview. For one, I wasn’t sure who’d take an article about Gazza from me; most of my non-fiction is feminist based or music related, and he’s no hero to either sector. (I don’t know of any music editor who upon hearing Gascoigne’s version of Fog On the Tyne doesn’t want to die, for example). But then I mentioned the offer on Facebook and to my surprise an editor friend DMd me. I’m launching a magazine for the drug and alcohol recovery sector, she said. Would I be interested in placing the Gascoigne interview there…?
Of course I was. Work is work.
But some feminist friends – quite rightly – raised reservations with me, privately and politely.
Why Gazza? After his record of domestic violence?
Well, this is why.
Because no one will pay me for an interview with a member of the public who happens to be a victim or survivor of domestic violence.
Because in order to get shut of domestic violence, we have to understand why it happens. To understand is not to condone it; we can’t confuse the two.
Because sometimes good people do bad things, I suppose. And mental health issues don’t go away by sharing a Facebook meme pic of Robin Williams looking all serene with bland motivational quote attached. They are much more complicated.
Anyway, my write up of the interview which I’m doing this week is quite heart breaking, in many ways. Upsetting to write, in some places. And I didn’t expect that. But it doesn’t mean there’s any less sympathy from me for victims of domestic violence. On the contrary, in fact.
On a brighter note, a short prose piece written by me as a tribute to the stupendous Katharine Hepburn was published by Silver Birch Press as part of their Same Name series last week, and you can read it here.