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Time was I used to spend August in Edinburgh sitting at the top of the stairs in the Assembly rooms playing spot the sleb with my flatmate and drinking beer.
These days I’m lucky if I make it to Auld Reekie for a couple of shows all month. This year I managed one – just one performance. However, it was a good one – Ruby Wax and Judith Owen’s show Losing It.
In typically sharp style Ruby tells of her journey to depression and sets out her stall for a crusade against stigma.
Along the way she shared a few thoughts about mothers and motherhood that gave me pause for thought. I’m sure she won’t mind if I share.
She has little kind to say about her own mother. She describes her as a woman who shrieked through life and sat like a vulture ready to swoop on crumbs and other unpleasantness.
Co-star, singer Judith Owen’s beautiful songs punctuate Ruby’s monologues. In one Judith sings: “I want a picket fence, I want a husband and some children, but I don’t know why.” Oooh. Why do we want the things we want?
Ruby tells of the arrival of her three children and how, in the absence of an instruction manual, she acted like she knew what she was doing. “Then you’re a mom and suddenly you’re supposed to know mom stuff.” She can’t have done too bad because her son Max had turned up to see her show.
She speaks of loving her kids, but losing herself in the process.
The school gate mums baffled her – and she is viciously funny on the subject – but, oh, it rang some bells. Not fitting in; not understanding the code; feeling like you’re getting it all wrong.
In the Q & A at the end, a woman said her daughter had depression and, she wondered, was it her fault. Ruby rushed to comfort the woman. “No,” she said. “That you asked me this question tells me you’re a good mom. Don’t worry, with these sensibilities, you haven’t done anything wrong.”