In the 70's and 80's,I used to be involved in organising protest marches and demos, campaigning against blood sports and vivisection, the fur trade etc.
Like many of my generation I grew up listening to the Goon Show, and it was common knowledge that Spike Milligan had suffered a major mental breakdown, and spent a long period in hospital. It was said that the pressure of being the only script writer on the team, having to produce perfection every week, pushed him over the edge. He was later diagnosed as manic depressive (or bi-polar as it is now called). I remember hearing him say that the only peace and comfort he could find in hospital was when the resident cat would come and lie on his bed.
Although I have always been a very "highly strung" person, at that time I still had some resilience left, and could summon up the energy to take on projects as long as they were planned well in advance. In my mind, people like Spike had been ill, then cured or at least put back on an even keel.
He was a patron of several animal rights organisations, and so I and others would approach him asking for his attendance at various events. This of course would be announced in press releases and the like. Television crews would turn out, press would attend, members of the public, who would never normally attend a demo, would come from all over the country. In fact the only person missing would be Spike. Sometimes his agents or family would cancel at the last minute, saying he was indisposed, sometimes we would have no warning at all. It became embarassing, the press thought we were making it up to get publicity.
There were a couple of similar no-shows from a well-known continental film star. I later heard that she was battling depression and becoming a recluse.
Now, all these years later, I am still doing my best for the cause dear to my heart. But now it is rare to see something highlighted in my diary that does not cause my heart to sink. I must have been having a good day when I agreed to it, but now I am praying that it will have to be cancelled, not my fault, no need for guilt.
Of course, I hardly ever back out, I know how it feels to be let down. I go along, and usually end up doing a grand job, but oh, the relief when it is over. It will take a few days for the adrenaline I have had to produce to calm down, for my sleep to return. Until the next time.
Spike, for thinking you were rude and unreliable - I am truly sorry.
A Moodscope member.