Over the weekend, the Guardian online featured Amelia Gentleman’s disturbing portrait of a mental health crisis within the NHS:
Meanwhile, New Scientist magazine reports that stress may be a factor in causing infertility in women. According to new research, there is a link between the everyday strains of life and an inability to conceive. One in seven UK couples now have fertility problems and, in a quarter of cases, there is no known medical explanation.
Elsewhere, the British panacea to everything, a nice cup of tea, could be making a comeback as a campaign to reintroduce tea breaks in workplaces is being spearheaded by Stephen Fry. In addition to his sterling work for the Great Brew Break and his tireless campaigning to remove the stigma associated with mental health problems, Stephen’s dulcet tones can be heard on ’50 Words For Snow’, the latest album by a certain Kate Bush.
Kate made headlines at the weekend as she announced her first live tour since – gasp! – 1979. The press dredged up the usual stuff about Kate’s private life, idly speculating on her reasons for returning to live performance.
She was only nineteen when she had her first hit, ‘Wuthering Heights’ (number one on this day in 1978). With a doctor as a father and a nurse as a mother, Catherine Bush initially considered a career in psychiatry or social work but, through a family connection with Pink Floyd member Dave Gilmour, she secured a record deal with EMI.
Kate described her first ‘Top of the Pops’ appearance as “like watching myself die…a bloody awful performance”. A year later, she toured for the first – and until now, last – time, before concentrating on producing and performing her music on audio and video.
Her subsequent withdrawal from the touring circuit led to rumours that she was ‘physically and mentally exhausted’ and fuelled numerous reports in the press of her reclusive existence, as underlined by the Daily Telegraph’s headline ‘not your average bonkers pop star’.
A record executive reportedly once turned up unannounced at Kate’s house and asked what she was working on. She led him into the kitchen, where she showed him some newly baked scones.
“I go out of my way to be normal and I find it frustrating that people think I’m some kind of weirdo recluse who never comes out into the world,” said Kate in an interview a few years ago. “It is really infuriating when I read, ‘She had a nervous breakdown,’ or ‘She’s not mentally stable, just a weak, frail little creature.’”
In an interview for the long defunct music paper Record Mirror, given at the time of her debut release, Kate recalled an incident when she was a young girl, dancing to music in her parents’ living room. Lost in the moment, she was abruptly taken out of her world when a friend of her father’s walked in and laughed at her. It was a defining moment for her, and one which may have had a lasting effect.
Millions of Kate Bush fans around the world will be looking forward to see their heroine play live this August and September, and one thing is for sure, the last laugh is with her.