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Cathy saved my life - twice

~ The Sun, by Alison Malony - 10/03/09 ~


MICHAEL BALL owes his life to longterm partner CATHY McGOWAN, in more ways than one.

The musical star told The Sun he was in a depression when he met the former Ready, Steady, Go presenter and she helped get him back on track.

Ten years later, when a house fire engulfed their home, Michael was sleeping off some pre-Christmas drinks when Cathy rushed in to wake him up and get him out of the house.

“I was in a bad place when I met Cathy,” he reveals. “I was kind of self-destructive, unfocused and she made my life better.

Now he has written a song for her, entitled Just When, which he has included on his new album Past and Present – The Very Best of Michael Ball.

The touching tribute contains the lyric; “Just when I thought that I couldn't go on, Just when the sun left the sky, Just when I thought that I'd never grow old, You gave me the reason to try.

“Just When is about my relationship with Cathy, me meeting her and her turning my life around for me,” he says.

“It's the first song I've written for her and she cried when she heard it. She was really chuffed.

“And she told me if the song didn't go on the album, there'd be trouble.”

The couple met in 1991 [JB.N note: actually it was in 1989], when Cathy came to interview him and they ‘just clicked'.

Disaster struck before Christmas in 2001, when Cathy woke at 4.30 in the morning to a house full of smoke and couldn't find Michael.

She found him asleep in another bedroom and dragged him our just in time.

“It was an electrical fault, in my office that started it,” recalls Michael.

“It was two days before Christmas, so I'd had a few drinks.

“It was horrible, a really scary thing. We never lived in the house after that. We had it done up and sold it, but we never moved back in. It destroyed all my memorabilia – gold records, videos and CDs and it didn't matter a sod because everyone was alright.”

Past and Present is a celebration of Michael's 25 years in showbiz and includes tracks from his many West End shows from Les Miserables, where he made his debut in 1985, through to his current smash hit Hairspray.

The singer, who drags up to play the role of Edna, is currently shedding the weight he has recently put on but says the show is his nightly workout.

“I put on weight when I gave up smoking two years ago but I wanted to do that anyway for Edna,” he revealed.

“Now that we're coming to an end, I'm taking it off and I've lost about a stone.

“I'm doing it slowly. I'm not going to do a fad diet but I'm eating better and the West End show helps me keep fit.

By the end of July I should be back to my fighting weight. I don't find it difficult to lose weight. I love my food and drink but you only need a little more discipline.”

Despite his success, the 47-year-old [JB.N note: he is only 46, of course] star admitted it hasn't always been a bed of roses and that he has often been plagued by panic attacks.

“It can happen to anyone,” he said. “You get very depressed. You get low.

“I got very depressed during the time of Les Mis and I suffered from panic attacks which plagued me right the way through.

“I can deal with them now. You talk yourself down, distract yourself. You literally have a conversation in your head.

“They're awful. It's tunnel vision, heart thumping and you think you're going to die. It's all wrapped up in depression and you think you're going to die. It's a drag.”

But with a Sunday lunchtime radio show on Radio 2, a hit West End show and a new CD, Michael said he is happier now than ever.

“I'm now at a point where all the work has sort of paid off,” he said.

“I'm really happy with my life. All of us have had periods where rain falls in our life, but I believe you should share good news, not bad news. I'm really centred and happy in my skin and it's a good feeling. It comes with age.

“I hate the physical thing of getting older. I don't like everything going south. That's a real drag. But there are definitely advantages. You learn to care less about other people's opinions, that are negative. If people are down on you can say ‘oh whatever.”

Michael Ball: Past and Present is out now

Find the original article here.

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