Dear Sir Phil,
Many moons ago, when I was about 15, you helped me out. The wacky world of Wikipedia suggests that you’re about eight years older than me so, to my teenage brain, you looked like a proper grown-up.
My parents had separated and a divorce was in the offing. They’d split up and I was living in a tiny house with my mum, brother and sister. Unfortunately, my folks weren’t doing a good job of splitting up and most days were like a war zone.
As the eldest, and with my mum working, I had to look after my younger sister. I’d take her to school in the morning, go to school myself, picker her up at lunchtime, take her back, then pick her up after school, take her home and feed her and wait until my mum came home. Not comparable to going down the mines, I know, but to a 15 year-old whose life had been relatively stable until then, it was a bit of a shock. Plus, there was the added madness of my parents going at each other like a mongoose and a cobra.
Anyhow, I used to give my sister her tea and sit and watch children’s TV with her. This was during your Broom Cupboard days.
This one particular day, you’d received a letter and you read it straight down the lens, so it looked as though (to me) you were talking to me and no-one else.
The letter was from a 14 year-old boy, whose parents were divorcing. I can’t remember the wording, but he was going through a rough time and was asking your advice.
I remember you looking out of the telly and saying that you couldn’t give any advice, but there was something you knew was true. So, you said this:
“The pain will end.”
For me, at that age, that was a lifeline and something I clung onto for years and still do. It gave me the idea that pain was finite and that there was, somewhere, light at the end of the tunnel.
You were right and, even though there were times I didn’t think I would, I survived.
I saw your announcement on This Morning. I’m sure you’re going through an awful lot of mixed feelings, which could probably be summarised as ‘pain’.
From my 15 year-old self to you:
The pain will end.
Thank you, Schofe. You kept me going through some very dark times and I hope, in some way, this odd little story might keep you pointing in the right direction.