Crisis What Crisis?

Crisis What Crisis?

By Andy Coulson

In Crisis What Crisis? Andy Coulson, former newspaper editor, Downing Street Communications Director and inmate of HMP Belmarsh, talks to embattled, shamed, courageous, ruined, resilient, unlucky (and lucky) survivors of crisis. Some names will be familiar, some less so. But they will talk honestly, with humour and in the hope that they have valuable lessons to share at a time when crisis has become the new normal. Crisis What Crisis? is all about frank, authentic and useful storytelling.

Episodes

14. Connie Yates on the fight to save her son Charlie Gard, losing control, and the power of hope

In this final episode of series two I talk to Connie Yates, mother of Charlie Gard who in 2017 was at the centre of a crisis and debate that stretched from the High Court in London, to the Vatican, the White House and into homes across the world. That debate raised issues of medical ethics and the fundamental rights of parents. But for Connie and partner Chris it brought only pain. For the question being asked was the most heart rending imaginable – should their son be kept alive to receive treatment that might extend his life? This is ultimately the story of a mother and father’s unbelievable determination in the face of systemic resistance. From Charlie’s diagnosis to a final court case to decide where he would die, Connie charts the full shocking detail of their fight against Britain’s medical and legal establishment. This is, of course, ultimately a story that ends in heartbreak. But it’s also a story of hope and of a mother’s fight for control against a tide of unrelenting crisis. An episode full of lessons and perspective for anyone facing their own challenges.Links:Charlie Gard Foundation: https://thecharliegardfoundation.org/ Charlie’s Law: https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/childrenaccesstotreatment.htm Episode notes:This was our longest episode so far – and for good reason. Connie Yates and her husband Chris are remarkable people. They faced the unimaginable – a devastating diagnosis for their first born. But what singles them out is their determination to fight against the consensus view every step of the way – each step a crisis in its own right. To get their sick son to Great Ormond Street, to refuse to accept that his condition was untreatable, to raise over £1m to fund the treatment in the US and to fight in every court in the land to get him that treatment. And then, when time ran out, to fight in the courts a final time so that Charlie might die at home and in peace. Connie’s background as a carer for disabled children (her Mum remarkably did the same job) clearly gave her a certain perspective. But in the end, it was an inner determination – a stubbornness – that drove Connie to fight against the medical and legal systems. Her greatest frustration came when the courts intervened to stop Charlie from being transferred from one hospital that wanted to end his life to another that wanted to save it. “I had no idea the courts could do that,” she says.Most of us, thankfully, will not live the heart-breaking crisis that Connie and Chris Yates faced. But in their story there are lessons, I think, for anyone dealing with a crisis. First the power of hope – the fuel for any long running campaign. But also the power and importance of control. Quite often we talk in this podcast about the need to work out what you have control over and what you don’t. No-one would have criticised Connie if she surrendered to the system much earlier in her story. But she did not … instead taking each defeat as a challenge to find another way forward.As Connie says: “It’s not that I wanted the control, I just wanted the best for my baby.”Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
02/11/201h 22m

13. Sir Kim Darroch on Trump, leaks and the art of the resignation

Sir Kim Darroch is the US Ambassador who, after his unflattering views of President Trump were leaked, found himself persona non grata in the White House. In this episode Sir Kim gives a full and detailed account of the crisis that led to his shock resignation last summer. And he explains how he managed and coped with the high-profile political scandal that brought an end to his 42year diplomatic career. With just days to go to the US election, Sir Kim, whose memoir Collateral Damage is now available, also shares his unique and waspish insights on the President and his democrat rival Joe Biden. And he predicts who he believes will win the most important political contest on the planet. Kim's Crisis Cures: 1. A half-hour walk: “Just get away from it, leave your phone at home and ground yourself in a different reality.” 2. The fiction trilogy Three Body Problem: “I love to read and this is a stunning work which conjures up images that just transfix you.” 3. Five Easy Pieces: “I’m a movie buff and this Jack Nicholson film is my favourite film of all time.” Links: Collateral Damage: Britain, America and Europe in the Age of Trump: https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/products/collateral-damage-britain-america-and-europe-in-the-age-of-trump-kim-darroch?variant=32551380779086 Episode notes: Sir Kim Darroch’s admission that he still feels ‘bursts of anger’ gave a glimpse of the impact his resignation as US Ambassador has had on him. His concern, that an otherwise stellar diplomatic career would be defined by the events of last summer, is real and raw 15months on. As a resigning recidivist myself, I found Kim’s detailed account of the thought process that led to the decision to quit, fascinating. As we discussed, resignations are lonely decisions that, in the end, are values based. That Kim’s only regret (anger of the leaks aside) is that he didn’t quit sooner, speaks volumes about his integrity. In terms of precedent and practicalities, his stepping down was, of course, inevitable. How can a US Ambassador do his job, unwelcome in the Washington corridors of power? But I couldn’t help but wonder how amusing it would have been for the PM to keep Kim in place, if only to get even further up President Trump’s nose. Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
26/10/201h 2m

12. Payzee Mahmod on child marriage, honour killing and freedom

In this episode fashion stylist and activist Payzee Mahmod gives an intense and moving account of a young life etched with horror, pain but now also, years later, with hope. Payzee was just 15 and living in South London when her Kurdish father ordered her to marry a stranger twice her age. Her 17-year-old sister Banaz had already suffered the same fate. Whilst Payzee lived her own nightmare with an abusive husband, Banaz managed to run away from hers. When she later began a relationship with another man, her punishment was to be abducted, raped and murdered. With a police investigation underway, Payzee was then able to escape her own forced marriage. Banaz’s death, as she puts it, enabled her freedom. But the awful truth about what happened in January 2006 then became apparent. Banaz and Payzee’s father and uncle, along with other male relatives, were later convicted and sentenced to life for her murder – a so called honour killing. Payzee now devotes her life to a campaign to make all forms of child marriage in the UK illegal. This is Payzee’s story told with heartbreaking detail, clarity of thought and driven by a breathtaking, awe inspiring sense of purpose. Sign Payzee’s petition: https://www.freedomunited.org/advocate/safeguard-futures/ Payzee’s Crisis Cures:1. Creativity – If I’m not in the best place I want to make something.2. Social media - For me, it’s where I’ve really found a great deal of support and friendships. I never knew that speaking out and telling my story would encourage so many young, especially Kurdish girls and women to tell me their stories.3. Walking with my dog just soothes and calms me.Links:Payzee’s website: https://www.payzeemalika.co.uk/ Chat with Payzee podcast: https://www.payzeemalika.co.uk/podcast Savera UK: https://www.saverauk.co.uk/ IKWRO: http://ikwro.org.uk/ Freedom United: https://www.freedomunited.org/ Payzee’s petition: https://www.freedomunited.org/advocate/safeguard-futures/ Episode notes:This episode is, at times, a difficult listen. At several points in our conversation I struggled to find an adequate response to Payzee’s eloquent and painfully honest description of her young life. How does someone survive or cope with all that Payzee and her sister Banaz endured? What perhaps struck me most deeply was the inexplicable absence of support for Payzee and, of course, her sister. How could an ordeal lived in plain sight in modern day London be ignored so often and so comprehensively? By schools, shopkeepers, the registrar who married her and, of course, the police. As Payzee said: “It blows my mind that not one person in my life asked if I was ok.” What is also astonishing is that Payzee has only recently been able to find and receive the professional help she needs. She now, thankfully, has a Kurdish counsellor who understands the multi layered complexity of her experience. Payzee is determined, on Banaz’s behalf, to campaign for an end to all forms of child marriage. Through her passionate activism she has turned the oppression that killed her sister, into an inspiring, powerful tool for good. As Payzee puts it: “My sister deserved better. What happened to her and what happened to me – it can’t happen to other girls. That’s what drives me.” Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
19/10/201h 13m

11. Mark Hix on going bust, losing his name and battling back

Mark Hix is one of the greats of British food. His HIX empire spread across London and beyond with a string of critically acclaimed restaurants. But when the COVID lockdown struck, the HIX group quickly crumbled. Mark – having previously handed control to investors – lost everything including the right to use his own name. In his words, he was: “Done, gone, finished for good”. Back in his native Dorset, and a bottle of wine in, he decided to get back in the game … by buying a mobile food truck, converted from an American ambulance, on eBay. This is the astonishing story of a famous chef’s refusal to surrender to the collateral damage of COVID and the vagaries of the hospitality trade. A must-listen for anyone facing or fearing business collapse in these challenging times.Mark’s Crisis Cures:1. Stay positive 2. Just keep earning - however small the amount 3. Drink the best wine possibleLinks:The Oyster & Fish House: https://theoysterandfishhouse.co.uk HIX Oyster & Fish Truck: https://www.facebook.com/Hixoysterandfishtruck Episode notes:Rarely on the podcast do we talk to someone still in the midst of their crisis, so it was a privilege to chat with Mark this week. He is a brilliant chef whose move from the kitchen to restaurant owner 12 years ago was seamless and successful. But as he explained with such brutal honesty, the financial reality of his business was not always as it appeared to customers and the media. “People would say, ‘Hix SoHo looked really busy last night, Mark’ when actually, we were losing £200k a year because the landlord put up the rent.”That financial reality pushed Mark into a partnership that in turn led him to cede control of his business. And when COVID struck that meant the decision to close was not his, and that he lost the right to use his own name as well as the ability to protect his 130 staff.The shock of those developments would send most people into the darkness. But instead Mark went back to basics, remembered that his talent had not evaporated with his business and found a small but smart way to keep in the game. Even if it meant making mayonnaise in his own kitchen before a day’s work that would pay only £140.I think the HIX food truck is a great totem for Mark’s astonishing resilience - mobile, flexible and sturdy. Mark had lost it all but having reset himself and his expectations he is able to focus on the rebuild. More modest, for sure, but also more experienced and independent. And the food is just as good.Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bmSome Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
10/10/201h 10m

10. Frank Warren on near-death, fighting Mike Tyson and staying positive

Frank Warren, one of boxing’s greatest ever promoters, has survived and coped with an astonishing amount of incoming crisis throughout his 40-year career. An attempt on his life, a high-profile court case that could have seen him jailed, and the collapse of his dream venue, The London Arena are just three of the dramas that Frank has bounced back from. The question, of course, that I wanted to focus on in this conversation was “How?”. Frank’s formula for resilience is anchored in his ability to stay focused and strategic when all seems lost. As he explains: “I get a big rush of adrenaline when things are against me – and that makes me really focus and gives me a clear mind to what I’m going to do. I don’t panic about things.”Franks’ motivation for survival is crystal clear: “You’ve just got to be true to yourself and the most important thing is you’ve got to make sure your family is safe. You’ve got to make sure that you’re protecting them”. Speaking about his younger brother Mark, who very sadly took his own life, Frank shared his thoughts on mental health and revealed how a brief spell of therapy helped him understand aspects of his personality. In this conversation my friend of 25years, gave an authentic, powerful account of his approach to crisis and to life. Family, friends, loyalty and fun are the guiding lights of Frank Warren’s incredible life.Frank's Crisis Cures1. Just being home.2. My family photo album... because my wife Susan and my children are what drives me. 3. I love music and The Temptations - The Way You Do The Things You Do is guaranteed to lift my mood. Links:DEBRA: https://www.debra.org.uk Website: https://www.frankwarren.comStream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bmSome Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
05/10/201h 6m

9. Ruby Wax on anger, optimism and taking ownership of your crisis

TV presenter, best-selling author, mental health campaigner and academic – Ruby Wax is a woman always on a mission. That she’s achieved so much whilst managing clinical depression and the burden of a deeply troubled childhood, makes her all the more remarkable. In this episode Ruby talks with power and honesty about how she confronted her demons to reach a deep understanding of what makes her brilliant, but at times troubled, mind tick. And – after travelling far and wide to research her inspirational new book And Now For The Good News – To The Future With Love - she also speaks movingly about how she found hope for all our futures in the most desperate of places. Ruby's Crisis Cures:1. Community: ‘Not just a wine tasting club, but where you genuinely talk to each other’. 2. Compassion: ‘When I’m in a queue sometimes I’ll find somebody in a really bad mood, and I’ll start talking to them or somebody who’s giving me grief. It’s just an experiment… I’m trying to exercise those [stress] muscles.’ 3. Mindful exercise: ‘Tai chi, Pilates, Yoga… but not something mindless. You have to notice what’s going on in your body.’ Links:And Now For The Good News...: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Now-Good-News-much-needed-frazzled/dp/0241400643 Website: www.rubywax.net Frazzled Cafe: www.frazzledcafe.org Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rubywax Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rubywax Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
28/09/2051m 26s

8. Andy Coulson on regrets, resilience and recovery

In this first episode of the second series, Andy puts himself on the other side of the microphone and talks to journalist and broadcaster Jane Moore about his five-year crisis. A high-profile scandal which unravelled his life and led to a spell in prison. Andy talks about confronting his mistakes and the strategies he deployed to cope and recover. As Andy says, having heard so many crisis stories from others on the podcast, he thought it was only fair that he now shares his. Andy's Crisis Cures: 1. Charles Dickens and The Pickwick Papers: “The old marketing slogan for The News of the World was ‘all human life is here’ and that’s true of Dickens. It’s definitely true of The Pickwick Papers because you’ve got politics, you’ve got the law, you’ve got prison, you’ve got journalism. Everything is there in that book and it’s a cracking read.” 2. Ben Howard – Keep Your Head Up: “Music has also been incredibly important for me and for the family. If I had to choose one [song] it would be Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard which is a bit of a family anthem.” 3. Château Musar: “It’s what I send to every podcast guest when it’s appropriate… it’s from the Lebanon and I chose it because it is really tasty and also because it is liquid proof that there is good to come from crisis.” Links: Website: www.crisiswhatcrisis.com Instagram: www.instagram.com/crisiswhatcrisispodcast Stream/Buy ‘Allies’ by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
18/09/201h 3m

Series Two trailer

In this second series Andy Coulson, former newspaper editor, No10 Communications Director and inmate of HMP Belmarsh, will be joined by another fascinating and eclectic mix of guests. They all have one thing in common...survival in the face of crisis. With such uncertainty remaining in all our lives, these are shocking, moving and, at times, amusing stories worth sharing.
10/09/204m 10s

Series One wrap-up

In this short wrap-up episode Andy draws out the key insights on how to cope with crisis from Series One. And he gives a preview of what’s to come in Series Two.
24/07/205m 20s

7. Chris Lewis on incarceration, cricket and the long walk back

Chris Lewis is the England cricketer who when his fortunes faded turned to drug smuggling. On 8 December 2008 Chris was caught with 3.5 kilos of liquid cocaine hidden in fruit tins as he arrived from St Lucia, convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison. A shocking fall from grace for a man who arrived in the UK from Guyana as a 10-year-old and who achieved his dream playing for England in 30 Test Matches. In this episode Chris talks with a straight bat and without self-pity about his self-inflicted crisis and his journey back to freedom and repentance. This is the first time that Chris and Andy have talked since they last met in prison six years ago. Chris' Crisis Cures: 1. Find nature: “Whether it’s going into the park or down to the river I love taking walks. Getting out distracts you from your problems. And distraction often helps me find solutions.” 2. A Course In Miracles by Helen Schucman: “A long read but all about taking control, understanding that you are responsible for what happens in your life, not other people.” 3. Meditation: “I started in prison and try to meditate whenever I can. It’s about finding that place to off load and start again with a fresh mind.” Links: Chris Lewis – Crazy, My Road To Redemption: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crazy-Road-Redemption-Chris-Lewis/dp/0750970103 Episode Notes: Chris Lewis was coming towards the end of his six-a-half-years in jail when we met at HMP Hollesley Bay in 2014. We shared a few chats during our time there, but never did he talk with such depth and detail as he does in this podcast. There is no doubt that Chris is a changed man. Chastened by his spectacular mistake and devoid of self-pity. “I blame no-one but myself,” he says repeatedly. In preparing for our conversation I found a YouTube clip of Chris being interviewed at the Oval. He had just joined the Surrey Twenty20 team – at the age of 40. Calm, assured and charming – this was a man who had been given a final chance at glory. But Chris was injured almost immediately and just nine months later was arrested at Gatwick. How Chris calmly explains the chain of events that led to such a catastrophic decision was a compelling feature of our conversation. But more interesting was the journey of self-awareness that Chris has been on since that moment. He now talks to young cricketers about the dangers that lie ahead when sporting success fades. A story of redemption but also a cautionary tale of epic proportions. Stream/Buy 'Allies' by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
18/07/2058m 10s

6. Victoria Milligan on tragedy, survival and human spirit

Victoria Milligan’s life changed forever on May 5th 2013 when a boat trip in Cornwall with her husband Nicko and children, Amber, Olivia, Emily and Kit, then aged four ended in horror. Thrown into the water at high speed, their boat circled back on them, killing Nicko and Emily. Victoria lost her leg and Kit was seriously injured. “In a moment,” she says “I went from a perfect life to becoming a widow, a bereaved parent, a single parent and an amputee.” In this episode Victoria, who is now training to be grief therapist herself, explains how she coped with a multi-layered trauma, and ensured that she and her children not only survived but thrived carrying the memory of Nicko and Emily with them into a new life. A true testimony to the power of human spirit. Victoria’s Crisis Cures: 1. Small achievable goals. Don’t plan too far ahead. That has massively helped me and still does every day. 2. Find your mantras. Mine is: “We are good enough”. I try and start every day by saying that to myself, however I feel. Don’t wake up and tell yourself you should have got more sleep, or I shouldn’t have drunk so much. And I start the day positively through exercise. That works for me. 3. Self-care is key. We are all natural care givers but we have to make sure we put enough time in for joy and happiness. If we’re not in a good place emotionally and physically we’re not in the right place to look after others. Being a little bit selfish is not a bad thing. Links: Victoria’s website: www.victoriamilligan.co.uk Child Bereavement UK: https://www.childbereavementuk.org Cornwall Air Ambulance: https://cornwallairambulancetrust.org Julia Samuel: https://juliasamuel.co.uk Episode Notes: We’ve talked a lot already about self-pity in this podcast. But no-one would blame Victoria Milligan, even now seven years after the accident, if the first words she uttered were ‘Why me?’ But it was clear, in the first five minutes of our conversation, that they are not in her vocabulary. The total lack of self-pity was, for me, one of the defining features of this podcast. The strategies she deployed to make sense of the senseless, as she puts it, were another. Dealing with just one of Victoria’s tragedies would be devastating. Tackling them all is unimaginable. But it’s through recognising them all as separate individual challenges that have to be broken down and dealt with using different tools and emotions that has enabled Victoria to cope. Taking one day at a time, how being kind to yourself will allow you to take care of others and the fundamental importance of finding the right way to manage your pain. That there is no manual for grief. Victoria rejected therapy when it was first offered. “All I wanted was Nicko and Emily back and no therapist could do that, so what use would they be?” she says. But overtime she came to understand the enormous value of grief counselling to help her through the loss of her child and her husband and to come to terms with her injuries. That she now wants to put all that she has learned to positive use as a therapist and writer herself - to find a positive from her tragedy – speaks volumes. A heart-breaking story told by an inspirational woman. Stream/Buy 'Allies' by Some Velvet Morning: https://ampl.ink/qp6bm Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
10/07/2059m 46s

5. Johnny Mercer on mental illness, grief and grit

Johnny Mercer, government minister and former Commando, talks with brutal honesty about his childhood battles with mental illness, including severe OCD. And, with astonishing frankness, he describes his brutal and heart-breaking experiences in Afghanistan where he was witness to countless horrors, not least the death of his close friend Mark Chandler. An emotional, powerful – and for those looking for crisis lessons – useful episode. Johnny’s Crisis Cures: 1. Stay strategic: “You have your goals and they have to be realistic; but once they are set the key is to focus on those and not get distracted by the niff naff and trivia.” 2. Keep perspective: “So much is down to luck; whether it’s an accident, whether it’s your career, whether it’s war, luck has such a heavy hand to play that you have to bear everything you do in perspective.” 3. It will end: “Seize the initiative; you’re never going to be in a crisis forever... whatever you’re going through things will return to normal just stick it out.” Links: We Were Warriors – One Soldier’s Story of Brutal Combat is available via Amazon.co.uk OCD-UK: https://www.ocduk.org Tickets For Troops: https://www.ticketsfortroops.org.uk Help for Heroes: https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk Episode Notes: Johnny Mercer is the non-graduate who should never have succeeded at Sandhurst – but who went on to be one of the most combat experienced officers in Afghanistan. The non-voter who should never have got elected, but who is now a Government Minister tipped as a potential future PM.   What’s more remarkable are the challenges – as both a child and adult – that Johnny has faced down. An upbringing in a strict religious household that almost, in his words, destroyed his mind. A childhood that led him to develop an extreme Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the management of which Johnny describes as a continual ‘work in progress.’ His approach to these crises, with the support of CBT and other treatments, was to find a greater, tougher challenge to focus on. That came in his three Afghan tours during which he risked his life almost daily. But it also left him confronting visceral grief when his close colleague and friend Mark ‘Bing’ Chandler was killed instantly as they fought side by side. I found Johnny’s methods of coping in these extreme situations compelling. Accepting and embracing that luck plays such a huge part in crisis situations, understanding and accepting your limitations as well as your potential and, perhaps most powerfully, remembering always that courage is just as contagious as fear. Stream/Buy 'Allies' by Some Velvet Morning - https://ampl.ink/qp6bm    Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
02/07/201h 10m

4. Vicky Pryce on prison, pushing on and the healing power of football

Vicky Pryce is a whirlwind of positivity, productivity and energy - economist, academic, author and mother of five. But in 2013 her high-powered life took an unexpected and damaging twist when she was found guilty of accepting her ex-husband’s driving licence penalty points and was jailed for Perverting the Course of Justice. Vicky gives us a startlingly human account of her high-profile crisis. She talks of the lessons learned in prison and details the strategy she undertook to steer her life towards a successful recovery.Vicky’s Crisis Cures: 1. Football: “I support Chelsea, I’m a season ticket holder, I go with my kids and that’s a great release from tension – although of course you substitute one type of tension with another.” 2. Books: Doctor Fischer of Geneva or The Bomb Party by Graham Greene. “It’s a book about greed and it shows that the richer you are the greedier you are and the more risks you’ll be prepared to take to make more money. It’s an incredible book that I’ve read and re-read.” 3. The sea: “When I want to relax, I think of swimming and looking at the horizon on a beach in Greece.”   Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/realVickyPryce Pro Bono Economics: https://www.probonoeconomics.com   Women in Prison: https://www.womeninprison.org.uk Working Chance: https://workingchance.org Women vs Capitalism – Why We Can’t Have It All in a Free Market Economy: https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/women-vs-capitalism   Episode Notes: Economists pride themselves as planners and forecasters. But Vicky Pryce is a woman who found herself in the midst of an extraordinary life experience that no-one could have predicted. Or as she puts it: “What I learnt about life is that things can just happen, just like that and you can’t control it”. How does someone whose successful career has been anchored in logic and data, cope when a chain of events lead to a prison cell in Holloway?    Vicky leant heavily on her analytical skills – deciding to research and write her book whilst in prison. As she says: “I just decided in my mind to consider this as going off for a while to do a particular job... The way I survived was by almost becoming an observer, I found it fascinating, something I could learn from, you’ve got to avoid thinking of yourself as a victim right in the middle of it all.” But the fierce independence that led Vicky to leave Greece at 17 and pursue a career in London also played a key part in her recovery. For me, the most revealing moment of our conversation came when I asked Vicky if she still saw herself as that 12-year-old, riding a motorbike through the streets of Athens. “Yes,” she replied instantly, “You don’t change and I’m very much the same person .. I know more and through the process one has made loads of mistakes .. but one remains like that.” So, remember who you are, drive forward, don’t look back – the Vicky Pryce method of crisis recovery. Stream/Buy 'Allies' by Some Velvet Morning - https://ampl.ink/qp6bm   Some Velvet Morning Website: www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
25/06/2054m 25s

3. Richard Bacon on battling scandal, addiction and nine days in a coma

If this podcast is about analysing crisis in all its forms then Richard Bacon, one of Britain’s brightest TV presenters and producers, is a guest who has survived more than anybody’s fair share. A career shattering scandal, addiction and mental health issues and a sudden illness that left him in a coma and fighting for life. In this episode Richard talks about what he has learnt from his dramas – self-inflicted and otherwise - with disarming frankness, brutal self-analysis and plenty of humour. Richard’s Crisis Cures: 1. Avoid alcohol: ‘I think if I’m going through a dark day the thing is to not drink because that can very quickly bring out anger.’ 2. Vinyl music: ‘I often play sixties bands, whether it’s The Who or The Kinks or The Beatles or The Stones… nothing makes me happier than putting on a piece of vinyl, I just love everything about it.’ 3. Babington House: ‘I got married there and it still retains its kind of magic quality…it’s hard not to go there and do anything other than feel much better.’ Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/richardpbacon Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/richardpbacon The ADHD Foundation: https://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk ICR Everyman appeal: https://www.icr.ac.uk/support-us/appeals-campaigns/everyman-appeal Episode Notes: Richard Bacon is a man on a mission. Already an established entertainment and news presenter in both Britain and the US, he recently signed a deal with NBCUniversal to devise and produce new show formats. All this a testament to his energy and optimism. But transatlantic success can also be traced directly back to a decision made in the white heat of a crisis in 1998. Caught taking cocaine by the News of the World (under a previous editor!) whilst he was presenter of the BBC’s flagship kids show Blue Peter - Richard could have taken the view that fame and TV were not for him. Instead, aged just 23 he decided to ‘own’ his crisis and march headlong into, not away, from the drama. The bold innocence of youth, perhaps.  But it also took courage, focus and determined self-belief – three critical crisis management skills. But success has been a tough road for Richard in part because of ADHD. A condition that he believes has contributed to his dependencies. As he puts it: “I’m a run towards, not a run-away addict. I’m not running away from anything.” Richard’s restless curiosity, and the support of his wife Rebecca, have been his saviours professionally and personally. A willingness to engage with his own strengths and weaknesses and to confront the truths of them is another crisis lesson worth noting. A big believer in the power of therapy (and, fortunately, podcasts), he says the simple, but not always easy, act of talking about your problems takes you a long way towards being able to fix them. Music: Allies by Some Velvet Morning www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
18/06/2047m 23s

2. Martha Lane Fox on near death, denial and disco

Baroness Martha Lane Fox is a force of nature – entrepreneur, philanthropist, cross bench peer and one of the most influential people in digital for the last 25 years. The co-founder of Lastminute.com, she also now sits on the board of Twitter, the Donmar Warehouse and Chanel. But Martha is also someone who can talk with power and authority on the subject of crisis. In 2004 she was left fighting for her life after a car accident in Morocco that broke 28 of her bones, including a shattered pelvis. In this episode Martha talks powerfully about the practical techniques – both mental and physical – she has developed to cope with a crisis she must confront every day of her life. Martha is, I think, an inspiration to anyone dealing with their own trauma. Martha’s Crisis Cures: 1. Boxing: ‘It’s so fundamental to my mental and physical wellbeing...even just imagining doing exercise can build the muscle mass. It’s quite extraordinary the relationship between our brains and our muscles.’ 2. Books & Poems: ‘The poem Don’t Hesitate by Mary Oliver, it’s about joy…even when the world is bleak and there’s always something awful happening it doesn’t mean you should begrudge yourself joy.’ 3. Pant Discos: ‘Putting some music on, blaring out way too loud (sorry neighbours) and having a couple of minutes moving about. Nothing beats it.’ Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/Marthalanefox Peers for the Planet: https://www.peersfortheplanet.org Doteveryone: https://www.doteveryone.org.uk   The Open University: http://www.open.ac.uk Queens Commonwealth Trust: https://www.queenscommonwealthtrust.org Just For Kids Law: https://justforkidslaw.org Lucky Voice: https://www.luckyvoice.com Episode Notes: Two things strike you immediately about Baroness Martha Lane Fox. A total and utter absence of self-pity is first. But an authentic, compelling honesty about her crisis and its impact is second. Honest that nothing good came from her accident. Honest that, for her, denial has been an invaluable weapon in the years since. As she says: “Denial is a very, very important part of how I function. I’m sure there are lots of people who would say there is lots about that that’s not healthy. The way I don’t get scared or feel as though I am a fraction of what I was, is by denying that I might fall over, that I have massive physical challenges. Some things you have to park.” The power of denial is not a strategy for crisis that you’ll find in any self-help book but I thought it was incredibly valuable because, as Martha herself says, “Crisis is not a competition.” There is no authoritative manual for crisis because every crisis is different. The key is in taking the time to work out what is best for you. And for Martha, one of the most positive people I’ve had the good fortune to talk to, denial has – when she feels she needs it – absolutely worked. Music: Allies by Some Velvet Morning www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
12/06/2044m 50s

1. Jeremy Bowen on addiction to danger, facing loss and battling cancer

Jeremy Bowen is a man who has spent most of his professional life in the company of crisis. As the BBC’s Middle East Editor he has reported from more than 90 countries and conflicts including Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and Lebanon. In this first episode, Jeremy talks frankly about his addiction to danger – how and why he repeatedly put his life at risk in pursuit of a story. And he details how that addiction turned to deep anxiety and grief when his friend and fixer Abed Takkoush was killed while working alongside him. Jeremy talks openly about mental health, and his good and bad experiences with counselling. And how, ultimately, he conquered his demons, only to face down an altogether different challenge when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Throughout the episode Jeremy reveals the tools he’s relied on most to manage those moments of crisis. A revealing and thought-provoking conversation to kick off the series. Jeremy's Crisis Cures: 1. Quotidian, humdrum things: ‘I was working in Damascus, the war was going on, you can hear the war through the window, you could see the smoke rising from the suburbs…but it was quite nice putting an edited story together about the Syrian war with the sound of the washing machine in the background.’ 2. Exercise: ‘The natural anti-depressant. In Sarajevo I used to take a skipping rope, I used to skip in the stairwell of the hotel. In Baghdad I would jog around the streets – they thought I was insane.’ 3. Old World War II movies: ‘Often John Mills is involved in some way, and Jack Hawkins. I find those quite reassuring to leave on in the background. Maybe even past crises…those reminders that you do get out of them in the end.’ Links: Twitter: https://twitter.com/BowenBBC Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeremy.bowen Bowel Cancer UK: https://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/ Look UK: https://www.look-uk.org/ Episode Notes: I’ve known Jeremy for about 15 years but this was, as is the nature of us blokes, the most intense conversation we’ve ever had. The utter authenticity of Jeremy’s storytelling was inspiring. For me, the key insights came when we discussed how, having been a crisis volunteer, he suddenly found himself to be a conscript. Facing the possibility of death – not from a sniper’s bullet (which he had narrowly avoided in Sarajevo) but from bowel cancer. His approach to getting through that challenge was clearly influenced by what he’d witnessed so frequently as a reporter. One of Jeremy’s great skills as a broadcaster is to explain how the terrible things we are witnessing on TV are happening to people who, not that long before, were living lives similar to our own. Jeremy has spent more time than most with those families.  “I think you can see people who are sometimes better able to get through crisis than others,” he said. “To survive in a war zone you’ve got to do a lot of small things to get through each day. Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture – that you’re in a horrendous situation. Chip away at the problem.” An analysis that echoed later in the conversation when we turned to his cancer. “You’ve got to do one little thing at a time. Get through the day, get through tomorrow and then have a horizon for when things will be better. In my case – get out of hospital, get through the chemotherapy, then the first scan and the next scan.” Just. Keep. Going. As Jeremy himself said, sometimes clichés are clichés for a bloody good reason. Music: Allies by Some Velvet Morning - www.somevelvetmorning.co.uk
10/06/201h 1m

Series One trailer

In this new series, Crisis What Crisis? Andy Coulson – former newspaper editor, Downing Street Communications Director and inmate of HMP Belmarsh – talks to the embattled, shamed, courageous, ruined, resilient, unlucky (and lucky) survivors of crisis. Some names will be familiar, some less so. But they will talk honestly, with humour and in the hope that they have valuable lessons to share at a time when crisis has become the new normal. Crisis What Crisis? is all about frank, authentic and useful storytelling. First episode coming soon...
05/06/202m 5s
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Heart UK