Behind the scenes

"'cause I knew that I was going to be a legend in my living room" (Annie Lennox)

It’s more than a bit strange to be watching my husband and son on live television: after so much apprehension and planning, it’s all over in a rush and nothing can be added or subtracted.  We had been unnecessarily concerned about the editing of the BBC One Show film, which could quite easily have presented a biased view with about 8 hours of filming condensed to 4 minutes… probably because we’d been burned a bit before by some of the adverse online comments and captions in the Mail article, so felt vulnerable about media editors we haven’t met!  But, although it was cut really short and unable to go into any real detail except in images, those images were so well done, so tender, so beautifully put together, that we felt quite blessed.  It almost looked more harmonious than it really is… and there’s the rub!

Live TV this morning showed it a little more as it really is: Sam had refused to wear a shirt and hadn’t washed his hair – he just wants to be himself! There were tensions hidden under the surface of the father and son who had spent the night together in a London hotel. But Sam was so bravely articulate and pleased at being given the room to make his point about the alleged anti-cancer properties of cannabis oil, so beloved of the internet generation – of which he is a paragon.  He has desperately wanted to get this information out – and who are we to say no, when it’s efficacy remains scientifically untried?  There is the minor matter (to him) of it being illegal in this country – let’s hope the police are not feeling too hard-line today!  As Martin says, it is ‘semi-science’ and the evidence is anecdotal: as Sam says, the drug companies don’t test it because they don’t want to lose money if it is true!  If you have never read his thoughts on all this – I wrote In his own words a long time ago – click here to see his no-holds-barred post online.  Plus in no time at all that live and unedited ITV clip will be ‘out there’ to be minutely reviewed… which has both good and bad points in it’s favour: watch this space!

Martin will watch it and groan over his incomplete sentences, kick himself for things he didn’t say, but at least he could be sure they were his own words being captured, his own answers to the questions that didn’t always get a good answer and he made his professional position clear.  Ah, it’s all so quick – all that time, all those people involved, all that money, just for a fast moving entertainment show.  But behind the scenes…Behind the scenes lie our lives, our pain, our long journey with our son over many years… far too much to go into in 7 earth minutes.  It’s a bit like fast food really, a Big Mac on the go – maybe I just need to get on with the slow-cooked stew of writing a book about it all, with it’s intricate flavours and marinading spices – the hot work in the kitchen, the recipe of real people’s lives stirred into the mix.  But the meal hasn’t finished cooking yet… there will be other ingredients to add and you can’t short circuit the time the preparation and cooking take.

Behind the scenes we are coping with the stresses and strains, underneath the surface the dangerous currents flow – emotions and fears, memories and dreams.  In the night hours the young man is repeatedly phoning his psychic healer in the US while his parents pray for revelation of Jesus as Lord of all and resort to sleeping tablets.  In the mornings he is awake early having to check the internet via his TV screen in his one room apartment because he can’t afford a new laptop while in the afternoons his partner wakes up and makes his breakfast because he forgot to eat – they watch movies or play video games and sometimes he goes out the door.  On the other side of town his drum-kit waits in his old bedroom in the big house, his mother and father get on with their lives and practise letting go. Last week his lover bought him 2 kittens, which he adores and next week he will get the keys to a new 2 bedroom house and the week after that a legal wife… but they didn’t have time to mention any of these things or fill in the story of a life and family in a 7 minute interview.  ‘Mother used to be a nurse, father is more than just a father and they are supportive – isn’t he lucky?’ But he doesn’t want any ‘interference’ and uses live TV to tell the world and his wife about his latest fit when most of his family and his doctor’s have not yet been told. “Well they asked me how I am!”

That’s Sam… Mr Grumpy when his blood sugar drops – capable of so much sweet affection and such cold disdain, an ambitious adult mind, a playful little boy, an extraordinary young man as everyone can see – our only son. And we are the stagehands, the producers, the chauffeurs and caterers for this show – we know him warts and intensity and brain tumour and childhood laughter and all.  We have learned to keep our distance – but when the hugs come we relish them. Martin and me as ‘the parents’, Becca as loving sister and devoted young Jess, his friend and confidant – proud of him, fearful for him, cheering him on, helping however we can as God helps us. We are a family, as loving and dysfunctional as any other, wearing our hearts on our sleeves and waiting for the healing we know is there – in whatever form it comes.  Being on national television is actually a part of that…

Thanks for the snapshot, the 15 minutes of fame, and giving Sam’s evangelistic fervour for hemp oil an outlet. Thanks friends and viewers for being moved and provoked by the story.  We know we all will be on the credits when it’s over… but it’s not over yet!  As Sam said This Morning, ‘never say die’! There is another story going on in eternity – behind the scenes.


About Sally Ann

True-story teller - words and pictures
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