Crab of hate is Susan’s constant companion

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Perky stalwart of many a Radio Four panel show, Susan Calman revealed that she has an unusual constant companion, but this is no invisible friend. Susan has a ‘crab of hate’ that sits on her back with its claws attached to her lugs as it whispers words of deprecation and contributes to her constant depression.

At any time, even when to us she may appear to be the cheery person that delights us with her humour, it can be telling her that she’s useless and that no one really likes her. Whilst relating this in an amusing and light-hearted manner the darkness of her soul searching lies just beneath the surface and in her teenage years she made a serious attempt to end her life.

The product of a happy, stable and loving family she was keen to express the fact that no one is to blame for her depression, it’s one of those things and neither is it, for her, a chemical imbalance, she has never taken any form of medication to treat it.

Instead she has seen a series of unhelpful counsellors but eventually discovered the power of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which helps her turn down the volume on the negativity.

Charming and delightful as she was on a sunny Sunday September afternoon at the festival marquee, the huge numbers who turned out to hear her speak must surely show that she is far from being alone and perhaps many in the audience had their own black dog, black cloud or perhaps, crab!

The former television presenter and actress Janet Ellis should be praised for attempting to escape her fame as a Blue Peter presenter and mother of pop star Sophie Ellis Bextor by rewriting her career.

Now a novelist she seems to be desperate to create clear water between her new work and her past years struggling with sticky-back plastic on the children’s magazine show.

Her novel, The Butcher’s Hook, surprised many with its Gothic macabre darkness and its clearly a reflection of a previously hidden part of her personality.

She was cheery and very likeable in her discussions with Peggy Hughes but, whilst interesting, I didn’t feel inspired to buy a copy of her book which is now out in paperback.