Friday, 8 January 2010

Mine's An Opinion, If You're Asking

David Yallop, lately editor of the Sun tabloid and author of a book about being a recovering alcoholic, was on a radio ‘phone-in the other day getting very outraged with a caller who questioned his authority to make proposals about the law concerning alcohol sales. Now I naturally wish Mr Yallop all the best in his continuing struggle against alcoholism and hope the book sells well but I do wonder about the validity of his comments about the law. The harsh fact is that Mr Yallop’s relationship with alcohol has failed catastrophically and so his suggestions may be as useful as a boy racer’s proposals on traffic calming. Kindly do not misunderstand me. It was his insistence that his personal experience trumped all other input that was worrying. My concern is with the idea that personal experience gives total understanding of that experience. I suffer from depression which means that I can describe how it effected me and correct some of the misconceptions that abound about the condition, but I am no authority on the correct treatment of it. I prefer the talking therapy to anti-depressants, but that’s only because it seemed that the former worked for me and the latter did not. My opinion is not sacrosanct, I may have grossly underestimated the effect of the drugs, and others are welcome to disagree and my experience does not make me a counsellor. After all, if I broke a leg I would rather have it set by a qualified doctor who has never broken anything than by a journalist who has had a broken leg and who has written Crutches of Shame: My Broken Leg Hell.

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