ant and dec

Ant, Dec, and the nature of forgiveness.


WORDS: Gary Kelly

I read an interesting interview this morning regarding Ant and Dec.

I assume this is part one of their ‘redemption tour’, which fallen celebrities increasingly seem to do whenever they mess up. It got me thinking on redemption and forgiveness. As they both acknowledge, drink driving is indefensible. No matter what is going on in somebody’s life it should not be done. However, sometimes things happen beyond our control in life. In Ant’s case, a botched knee operation led to him getting smacked out on prescription pain pills. Those things are just legal heroin basically. Ant copped himself a habit and spiralled out of control from there.

I’ve recently recovered from a 5 year period of a succession of pretty serious injuries which is a legacy of brutalising my body doing ultra Marathons and long distance cycling to a frankly stupid and reckless degree. This was a reaction to a profound and catastrophic shift in my life, my close friend took his own life. My reaction, which was to throw myself into extreme exercise was essentially self harm. I was quite literally running away. But that is for another day good people.

I can relate to the choice Ant was presented with, I refused Opioids both before and after spinal surgery. I was concerned that I would develop an addiction because I have seen in both my personal and professional life how quickly things can spiral out of control, how personalities can change, how rapidly people can lose themselves. I decided I would rather take the physical pain, feel my way through that than take the risks associated with prescription pain pills. I have lost to many people to drugs and alcohol, through it ravaging their minds and the ultimate price: Death. 

Addiction to both illegal and legal drugs is spoken about more and more, however, it is often in macro terms, in the sense of how it affects society. I know only to well how taboo it is to discuss in friendship groups regarding individuals and their behaviours. Often possible ‘allies’ in any potential intervention have copped a bit of habit themselves so it’s a bit close to home and they don’t want hear it. Lest they have to address some issues themselves.

I have seen once lovely people turn into absolute arseholes, through drink, and in the case of cocaine, it’s subtle at first, and then it gets them. Sly, manipulative, devious, it’s almost like they are possessed. Woe betide anyone who dares to reach out to an addict in full grip of the substance. Often you will be destroyed by a barrage of lies, as the addicts, controlled by their addiction and their perceived threat to the delusional bubble they exist in, will assassinate your character in the minds of others. It’s a rotten and heartbreaking thing to experience because underneath it all, you just want your friend back

While what Ant did was and is indefensible my concern is that if there is not a path to redemption for people, especially within the context of this ‘cancel culture’ that we live in then we are co-creating an incredibly harsh world. There is no incentive for addicts to ‘get better’ if we totally write them off. Within that, if we are willing to forgive, to place ourselves in the position of supporting an addict as they clean up their lives and atone for their behaviour, we must take care of ourselves. The path to recovery is not a straight line. There are many twists and turns. Stay woke.

Sadly, the odds of people staying clean aren’t great, so be mindful of that as you practice forgiveness, I have seen many people who place themselves in a helping role be then torn apart by the maelstrom of addiction. I am one of them. But forgive we must, if we can find it in or hearts to do so. Know this, forgiveness does not mean you have to have those people back in your life. You literally do not have to be friends with people you don’t like. Seems obvious right? Well you would think so but many of us, through fear being alone, loyalty to friends, or more accurately the past, will cling onto something that doesn’t exist anymore. I was one of those people.

We cannot sacrifice ourselves, often taking ourselves to the edge mentally, to fix others. Especially addicts. It has to come from them. If it doesn’t they are fucked. You will know what I mean if you have watched someone you love die in a slow, bewildering, often brutal fashion. Or in the case of others, live a form of waking death. You have permission to practice self care and move on with your life if you have to. Some people can’t be reached if they don’t want to be, self harm often doesn’t just fuck the addict up, it will fuck you up to. Often, if we stay, that is self harm.

There are things I can forgive and there are things I cannot forgive. In Ant’s case, I can just about stretch to a level of understanding and forgiveness for drink driving.

However, and to be completely frank I will never forgive that massive alfied knacker for voting Tory. Ever. 

How the fuck does a lad from the West End of Newcastle vote for them? 

I will never forgive him for that. He MUST have been off his head. #tefalnapper