S3; Ep3 How to Fail: Jonny Benjamin

January 16, 2019

Ok, so full disclosure: I cried during this interview. You will quite possibly cry too. You will quite possibly need a box of tissues next to you as you listen. And you will quite possibly leave feeling enlightened and uplifted by the magical, gorgeous man that is Jonny Benjamin, MBE.

Jonny is a mental health campaigner and someone with a truly extraordinary story to tell. In 2008, Jonny was 20 and standing on the edge of Waterloo Bridge about to jump. A passing stranger noticed his distress and stopped to talk to him. It was a momentary decision that saved Jonny’s life.

We talk about his journey to track that stranger down and about what Jonny has learned about himself along the way. We also talk about Jonny's diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and his experiences of living with 'The Truman delusion' (so-called because the person believes that their lives are staged reality shows being filmed on camera). We talk about mental health in the workplace and being open about our fallibilities. I am so grateful that Jonny also chose to talk about Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the realities of living with that when you're just trying to get on with life (it makes dating a bit of a nightmare and a lot of people don't really understand what it means). Along the way we chat about Amy Winehouse, feeling left behind in your 20s, the importance of self-compassion and why love isn't ever conditional on whether you succeed or not.

I hope you are moved as much as I was by this episode.

Also if anyone has any single gay men wanting a set-up with an incredibly handsome, funny and sensitive individual then feel free to DM us - details below ;)

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

The Stranger on the Bridge by Jonny Benjamin is out now published by Pan Macmillan.

Beyond Shame, Beyond Stigma is a new mental health charity for young people co-founded by Jonny.

You can learn more about the WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) by visiting the Rethink website.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this podcast, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit their website

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Jonny Benjamin @mrjonnybenjamin

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

  

 

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S3, Ep2 How to Fail: Chris Patten

January 9, 2019

This week, my guest is the former politician Chris Patten. It's almost easier to list the high-powered offices of state he hasn't occupied than the ones he has. Patten was the 28th governor of Hong Kong, the former Chairman of the BBC, the current Chancellor of Oxford University. For 13 years, he was the Conservative MP for Bath before losing his seat in the 1992 election - one of the incidences of failure he discusses on this episode. 

At 74, Patten has published seven books, gained a peerage, fathered three children and has eight grandchildren. You might not think he knows much about failure, but in this revealing and unexpectedly moving interview, he talks about what it's like to lose a seat and have your life changed overnight, as well as how he coped with the aftermath of his tenure at the BBC (where he presided over the Jimmy Savile scandal). We also discuss his faith, his love for his wife (and his wish that he had married her earlier), his natural inclination towards gloominess (and what he does to 'snap out of it') and his, as yet futile, search for the perfect breakfast muesli.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

First Confession: A Sort of Memoir by Chris Patten is out now, published by Allen Lane.

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

 

 

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S3, Ep1 How to Fail: Lily Allen

January 2, 2019

Haaaappy New Year! We're back with a whole new season and we open with a bona fide musical superstar: Lily Allen.

A singer, songwriter, the recipient of multiple awards, Lily's songs such as Smile and The Fear are observationally crafted with honesty and irreverent wit. In 2018, she was nominated for a Mercury Prize for her (brilliant) fourth album, No Shame, and published her memoir, My Thoughts Exactly, which was a Sunday Times Number 1 bestseller. In it, she writes unflinchingly about feminism, fame and family dysfunction. Oh, and shagging Liam Gallagher in an airplane toilet. 

She joins How To Fail With Elizabeth Day to talk about failing to be famous, failing to report a sexual assault, body image, children, marital breakdown, drugs and alcohol, songwriting and why, one day, she might just enter politics.

I am SO EXCITED to have Lily on the podcast. It's so rare that someone this famous is also this honest and it's a real treat. I hope you enjoy listening.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen is out now published by Blink Publishing

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Lily Allen @lilyallen

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

  

 

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How to Fail: End of Season Two

November 22, 2018

So here we are at the end of SEASON TWO of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, 16 wonderful interviews (and untold numbers of pots of babaganoush) later. In order to mark this momentous occasion, I speak to the legend behind the microphone, the one and only Chris Sharp, producer extraordinaire. We chat about our favourite moments of the podcast so far and discuss the most memorable building work we've had to contend with along the way (it's a nightmare for the sound quality, apparently). Ironically, this takes place just as building work is being done in the flat above mine, so you get to hear an unexplained thumping sound about three-quarters of the way through. You're welcome.

 

Thank you so, so much for listening, rating, reviewing and subscribing. We'll be back in the New Year with eight new brilliant guests. Until then, remember what Truman Capote said: 'Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.'

 

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

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How to Fail: David Baddiel

November 21, 2018

For the season two finale of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, I speak to David Baddiel: comedian, author and co-writer of the best unofficial football anthem of all time (Three Lions, people). It was an interview that almost didn't happen because of his FAILURE to find a parking space near my flat. But we ended up piling into his Audi and driving to his house instead, so it all worked out in the end.

We discuss a horrendous corporate gig that almost put Baddiel off comedy altogether [warning: contains big swearing], his self-perceived failure to be taken seriously as a literary novelist, his overwhelming compunction to tell the truth, how he deals with internet trolls and hecklers and his failure to score a penalty in a Comic Relief charity football match.

Along the way, we talk about depression, anxiety, his father's dementia, Baddiel's ambiguous relationship with fame and why he might have been a premiership player, if only his childhood trainers had had velcro fastenings.

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

Head Kid by David Baddiel is out now published by Harper Collins

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

David Baddiel @baddiel

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

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How to Fail: Tara Westover

November 14, 2018

This week, I bring you a truly incredible woman. Her name is Tara Westover. She wrote a memoir called Educated, which is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read: profound, moving, unerringly original. It tells the story of Westover's upbringing, born the seventh child of Mormon survivalist parents who didn't believe in public schooling or mainstream medicine. It wasn't until she was 17 that Westover decided to educate herself - with astonishing results.

We talk about what it's like to love your family but to be estranged from them, and how the two ideas can co-exist. We also discuss how on earth someone teaches themselves algebra ('Yeah,' says Westover, 'that wasn't fun') and what it was like to refuse any pain medication despite having a dental abscess. Her failures include flunking tests, finding it difficult to make friends, her failure to believe in her family's religion even though she wanted to and her failure to make her relationship with her parents work. She also quotes John Stuart Mill on feminism and it's completely brilliant.

This was one of those very special interviews where I felt my mind expanding just from the privilege of listening to her speak. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

Educated by Tara Westover is out now published by Penguin

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Tara Westover @tarawestover

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

 

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How to Fail: Farrah Storr

November 7, 2018

Farrah Storr, the award-winning editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, is this week's guest on How To Fail With Elizabeth Day and I'm so thrilled to have her on as have basically been stalking her on Instagram for years. In person, she does not disappoint.

We talk about the curse of perfectionism, the notion of  having-it-all (ish) and Farrah's decision to be a child-free woman. We also cover her failures as a child carol singer (and why she still can't face doing karaoke because of it), being rejected from the university of her dreams, disordered eating, failing at a job she'd wanted for ages and failing at a blind date with the man who later became her husband. Plus, we discuss her new book, The Discomfort Zone, and explore how doing what scares you can sometimes be the pathway to success. And we talk about Farrah growing up in Manchester, the half-Pakistani daughter of the local green-grocer who was desperate to 'blend in' and her creepy habit of shaving the heads of her Barbie dolls when she was a girl.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

Farrah's book, The Discomfort Zone, is out now published by Piatkus

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Farrah Storr @Farrah_Storr

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

 

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How to Fail: Alastair Campbell

October 31, 2018

This week How To Fail With Elizabeth Day welcomes Alastair Campbell to the confessional booth. The former spin doctor to Tony Blair (and inspiration for the character of foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It) talks movingly about his mental health breakdown in 1986, and how that changed the course of his life. He also discusses living with depression, admitting to an alcohol problem, almost crying on live TV and playing the bagpipes (not all at the same time). Along the way, we talk about Brexit, Iraq, the dodgy dossier, the impact his workaholism has had on his personal life and whether he thinks New Labour was a failure or not.

Campbell is a beautifully open interviewee with some deeply candid and helpful things to say about coming back from failure and operating at the highest level of politics. It was a privilege to interview him, and somewhat surreal that he came to my flat and drank tea from my mug while I did so.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

The latest volume of Alastair Campbell's diaries, From Crash To Defeat, is out now published by Biteback Publishing

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Alastair Campbell @campbellclaret

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

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How to Fail: Otegha Uwagba

October 24, 2018

This week my guest is writer, podcaster and all-round megawatt woman, Otegha Uwagba. Otegha joins me to talk about her failures at getting a job, dealing with sexism at work, living with depression and why she just can't seem to help being petty on Twitter (her words). We also discuss racism and how she handles daily micro-aggressions: 'I’m so conscious to be overly polite if I encounter a sort of older white person lest they then leave with a bad impression of black people generally,' Otegha says. 'I’m constantly having to code switch.' Along the way, we cover myriad other subjects including her briliant best-selling career guide for creative women, Little Black Book and why she resolutely refuses to wear florals.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

Otegha's brilliant podcast for working women In Good Company  features practical advice, fresh ideas and inspirational interviews.

Little Black Book by Otegha Uwagba is out now published by 4th Estate Books

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Otegha Uwagba @oteghauwagba

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Fail: James Frey

October 17, 2018

This week on How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, we're joined by the author James Frey who also just so happens to be my first American guest (hello, USA! I heart you!). Frey has written four critically acclaimed novels, and his fifth - Katerina, a sweeping love story set between 2018 Los Angeles and 1992 Paris - has just been published.

But he's probably as well known for his notoriety as his talent. In 2003, Frey published A Million Little Pieces, a memoir of his criminal past and addiction to crack cocaine. An instant bestseller, it was picked by Oprah Winfrey for her influential book club. But when it was subsequently shown that Frey had fabricated large portions, Oprah brought him back on her show to give him an exceptionally public dressing down that made headines around the world.

This is a man who has been a literary rock-star and a literary pariah; someone who has experienced public failure on a level most of us couldn't even begin to comprehend. He joins me to discuss what that felt like, what he learned from the fallout, what the difference is between factual truth and truth in fiction, living with addiction, what he has learned from failure, and he tells me about his peronsal motto: 'Fail Fast, Fail Often'. Along the way, he also reveals whether he'd vote for Oprah if she ran for President and his unlikely support for the England football team.

 

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

 

Katerina by James Frey is out now published by John Murray

 

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

 

 

 

 

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