Meeting Mr.Middleton…

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Now. I don’t often mention mental health or my own go-around with depression and anxiety because I write this blog for entertainment and if I can make someone smile, forget their cares for a minute, then my job is done. (“Meet the gang coz the girls are here – the girls to entertain you -” Oops, apologies to all who might remember “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum”)

It’s been a difficult few months earlier on in the year, one of the reasons why I was absent from the blog, but I read a book that really helped… I suppose this a sort of self-help post. But I have lived with a formless sort of fear for a long time which in turn gave me crippling anxiety to the point where I found myself in Asda crying because I was completely unable to choose potatoes.

Enter Ant Middleton. Not literally, of course, but metaphorically. He is an English ex-soldier, adventurer, television presenter and author. I have watched his television programmes, “SAS:Who Dares Wins,” “Mutiny”,”Escape” and “Extreme Everest.” I was taken by the absolute determination and fearlessness of the man. Granted, he’s not to everybody’s taste, but his courage, achievements and adaptability drew me.

I read his book, “First Man In: Leading From The Front.” Then I read it again. Bite size chunks of psychology and encouragement that I could understand and apply to my own life, put in such a way I could understand and use his lessons. One of the first – “Always have a plan” might seem pretty basic but it rocked me back on my metaphorical feet. Of course. There are always options.

Then he brought another book out, “The Fear Bubble.” I was wandering absently along when I saw it advertised in W.H.Smith. “Oh I must buy that” I thought. Then I read the poster properly… Ant Middleton was coming to Nottingham. I could get my book signed. OHMYGODICOULDMEETANTMIDDLETON.

I must point out here that I am not merely “fangirling”… well, perhaps, a little… but reading this man’s book has genuinely altered my mindset, and for the better.

Handily, Alex was able to come with me on the Saturday that Ant was coming to our city, so we arrived at W.H.Smith and joined the queue. I must say thank you to all the staff who made it such a pleasant and well organised event too. I gave my book to Alex to hold as my hands were getting sweaty with nerves, and as I was somewhat inelegantly wiping them on my front, who should appear from the back of the shop but – Ant Middleton!

I’ll tell you now, I don’t do cool. I have tried, but it never really works for me… so I said, in quite a loud voice: “Look! He’s here!” and shook Alex by the lapels in excitement. Ant smiled and said: “All right guys?” to the queue and disappeared to the front of the shop.

After some more waiting, we moved up and I had the chance to watch how he was with people. He was – brilliant.

Am I gushing? Perhaps, a little – but anyway, from an old lady, to a teenaged lad, to a little girl and others, he had a kind word, a hug or a handshake for everyone. Then it was our turn, he grinned at me, maybe remembering me from earlier, and said: “Come on then mother!”

We walked over and he laughed as I said I was unreasonably excited to meet him and gave me a hug. I said “It’s wonderful to meet you!” and he smiled, he has very blue, very direct eyes and shook Alex’s hand. He is extremely charismatic and very “alpha” but he uses that quality in an empowering manner. He asked us a couple of questions, and then I said: “Thank you. Very much.” I hope I managed to convey a little of how much better his book made me feel.

So… could be I’m “fangirling”… perhaps, a little – but I thoroughly recommend both his books, and as I said I am aware he’s not to everyone’s taste. But I was – and still am – unreasonably excited about actually having met Ant Middleton!