Belfast Telegraph

Andrew Marr should not miss chance to atone

By Gail Walker

I must admit I've never been that taken with Andrew Marr – a media luvvie whose personal life (for which read affair/super injunction/public admission) seemed to crop up a little too often in the public prints.

Indeed, shortly before he suffered a major stroke I recall having a pop in this column at the dad-of-three for being pictured on a night out sticking his paw down the trousers of a woman who was certainly not Mrs Marr.

Well, someone had to say it since there was no Savilegate reprimand from the Beeb for his lechery! But reading an interview with the presenter, he comes across as a changed man following his health crisis.

Marr is in many ways very fortunate. With the stroke affecting the left-hand side of the brain, his memory or speech wasn't impaired.

True, he walks with a limp and has difficulty with his left arm, but much has been left intact.

He is also disarmingly candid about the cause of his stroke, admitting to driving himself too hard.

At 53, he was exercising like a man half his age – he suffered the stroke while pumping away on a rowing machine in a garden shed.

His life was also filled with work – he'd just finished a globe-trotting history of the world, was still doing his Sunday BBC politics show and a couple of radio slots, and was writing another book.

Marr's painfully honest assessment of the 'old him' is a reminder that in our 24/7 smartphone-driven existence, people can and do buckle under the weight of work.

True, Marr's assorted jobs were an awful lot more glamorous than those most of us toil away at, but many will feel a stab of recognition nevertheless: the endless overtime, accepting more and more projects, feeling under pressure to fit in "just another wee thing".

Sometimes, you can't – or shouldn't – have it all. And you owe it to your loved ones not to be an eejit.

Marr's thank you to the wife he had publicly humiliated was genuine and touching: "Jackie saved my life. Without her, I wouldn't be here ... she really carried me."

Sometimes, it takes us to look over the abyss to realise that – deep down – we're truly lucky when it comes to the things that really matter.

Marr is a man who knows he's been given a second chance. Not everyone gets that. Thankfully, it seems like he's not going to squander it, either.

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