"It's very rare a Westmeath man gets to run naked through Croke Park": JOE spins the Tombola of Truth with Niall Breslin
We talk night-time streaking, snot-nosed curries, and the wonderful woman that is Ms Angela Lansbury...
Ahead of the My1000Hours run taking place in Dublin's Phoenix Park on Saturday 7 March, JOE sat down with the event's founder and ambassador, Niall 'Bressie' Breslin, to chat about the reasons the run was set up in the first place, why people should get involved, and the Westmeath man spins the... *drum roll*... JOE Tombola of Truth.
In the meantime though, sit back and enjoy as Eoghan 'I've got a stitch just writing the word "run"' Doherty caught up with Bressie in Dublin recently.
JOE: Tell us a little about My1000Hours and how the event initially came about.
Niall: I'd been planning it for quite a while.
I've been quite vocal about my own mental health and my journey with it. As a 15-year-old I was kind of praying that someone would say something or do something to let me know that what I was going through was normal, or that it was something that other people were dealing with, but no one ever did.
So I always thought to myself that, if I ever got to that place where I could do something about it, I would do something like that.
I think, being in The Blizzards was one thing, but when you do TV you realise there's a different element, a different profile that comes with it. I had spent my entire time doing my first year of live TV freaking out that I was going to have a panic attack on live television, and ultimately that's what was actually bringing it on more than anything.
At that point, I felt I wasn't ashamed of it in any way and I actually now believe that, in my own life, it's given me an edge.
One part of my coping strategies is that I incorporate physical fitness. People should try it. I'm not saying this is the answer or the cure, but it definitely helps me.
For the event then, the My1000Hours idea was kind of borrowed from Malcolm Gladwell's theory that if you do 10,000 hours of anything, you become a professional or an expert.
The idea is that you have to be patient with your mental health.
People who experience depression or anxiety issues, the first thing they want to do is get rid of it straight away, but most of the things that do that aren't sustainable, so my idea of My1000Hours isn't that you have a watch and, as soon as your 1000 hours is up, you're grand, you're cured.
It's the idea of being patient, of seeking out different options like medication, meditation, fitness, whatever it is that works for you.
JOE: Who can take part in My1000Hours? Is it only for people who experience mental health issues themselves? Or is it for friends, family, and open to everybody?
Niall: Here's the thing with mental health.
For people reading this and thinking, "well I've never experienced any mental health issues", you will experience trauma, you will be hit with something in your life that will be very difficult to deal with.
Do you have coping strategies? What's your mental fitness like? The fact is, everybody on this planet could be able to cope better and nobody has this perfect mental ability.
My1000Hours is for everybody, not just for people who have issues. So when people run into trauma they are able to handle it a lot better than they are at the minute.
The run itself is a 5K and 10K run, I have my mother doing it. She's going to walk the 5K and take her time.
For people thinking that this is a fitness thing, it's not. This a movement. This is something that's going to grow, there'll be 2000 or 3000 people in the Phoenix Park, having open conversations about why they're there and who they're doing it for.
There are people in Roscommon, Galway, Leitrim, rural areas all across the country, meeting twice a week and going out and chatting to each other. Are they doing Olympic times? No, they're not and they've no interest in running fast.
They're interested in interaction.
The isolation can be very very difficult for people, it's not a healthy environment for people. You do need that element of human interaction.
For me, part of the My1000Hours process, is how do we engage with rural areas as well as the cities.
What you won't see in the press is the the suicide rates in these rural areas. Will what we're doing stop suicide? Of course it won't, we're not naive.
But will it potentially save lives? Yes.
JOE: Do you find it's more difficult to get men to talk about their own mental health?
The one thing I would say, especially aimed at men, in the last couple of months I've had hundreds of men coming to me to say that they've had to leave their job because they cannot function.
That's how difficult this is. People who say that anxiety is just stress, it's not. Anxiety overtakes every cell of your body, it really can consume your life, and when people can't go into work or get out of bed or leave the house, you're starting to get to the point of how difficult it can become.
Especially for men, we hide behind a veil of being strong. I know that's a cliché, but it's so true.
JOE: The running aspect and My1000Hours obviously helps you to cope, but has there been progress from where you were personally a number of years ago?
Huge. But the reason there's been an improvement is because literally everybody around me knows about it.
Something I need to make clear is that I deal with this still on a daily basis.
I still go to bed at night and spend 10 or 15 minutes trying to get my breathing under control, but I accept it. I accept it 100%. I accept everything it is because, in general, I have a brilliant life and I'm very lucky in my life.
The thing about it is, if you have a physical issue, you go to bed, you accept it as part of your life, whether it's arthritis, IBS, you'll deal with it as best you can and you'll incorporate your lifestyle into this.
It's no different for mental health.
For more information on how to take part in My1000Hours and to help put mental health on the map, scroll right to the bottom of the page where you'll find all of the necessary entry criteria.
And now, for the JOE Tombola of Truth...
In case you're one of the three people who doesn't know what the JOE Tombola of Truth is, let us explain. The JOE team has come up with 50 questions which are conveniently numbered 1-50.
Impressive, we know.
These are random questions about life, sport, music, movies, craic and the rest of it. Anything goes.
We give the interviewee, in this case, Bressie, various different attempts at spinning the JOE Tombola of Truth and, depending on which number is pulled out, we ask the corresponding question.
Let the spin begin.
JOE: What's your go-to joke?
Niall: It's the three-legged donkey one.
What do you call a three-legged donkey? A wonky.
Depending on your audience you can really play with it. You can tell kids that joke and they think it's brilliant. They're normally tough crowds, kids.
JOE: Have you ever been naked in public?
Niall: Yeah. I streaked through Croke Park.
It was the construction site, when it was being built. It was at three or four in the morning, I was coming back from a night out in the Big Tree with a couple of mates and there was a big gap in the fence. So I just had on a pair of Nike and off I went.
It's very rare a Westmeath man gets to run naked through Croke Park.
JOE: They say that laughter is the best medicine. Do you agree?
Niall: Absolutely. You can't beat proper laughter.
JOE: Lent is well and truly underway, have you gone off anything this year?
Niall: I went off coffee... but I've already had three coffees before 10 o'clock today.
JOE: Even sitting here now, you're going on to your second coffee.
Niall: Fine. I went off Lent, how's that?
JOE: Off Lent? Jesus is going to kill you.
Niall: He's not going to be happy.
JOE: Do you drink tea as well as coffee though? And, if so, do you pour the milk in first or pour the milk in afterwards?
Niall: Absolutely, I do drink tea. To be fair though, when it comes to tea, I'm not a snob. Life's too short. But I definitely don't like weak tea. You want to know it's tea you're drinking, I don't want to think it's milk.
My aul man would leave the teabag in for three hours, so you'd give it to him and he'd say, "it's not strong enough" and fling it back at you. It's the school of hard knocks.
I don't leave the tea bag in though, it could be anything in there, it looks like a fag butt. That's what puts me off it.
JOE: Which type of Cadbury's Snack bar is the best? The Purple, the Yellow, or the Pink?
Niall: I think you get more bang for your buck with the Yellow. Break it up into six pieces. I don't think any of them taste like life-defining chocolate, but they're iconic.
JOE: What would be your biscuit of choice to accompany your cup of tea?
Niall: In college I used to grade biscuits; Class A, Class B, Class C, and so on. So your Jersey Creams would be Class C, you never expect too much from them, but they're always alright when you have one.
But the Class A were always Fox's.
They were always top of the league, every other biscuit was just chasing them. The thing now is that Lidl and Aldi have come in with really unknown chocolate, but it's really good. I think I'm quite adventurous with my biscuit choices.
JOE: We'd love to see that Biscuit Class System some day...
Niall: Yeah, the same group of people who had the biscuit system also had a Murder She Wrote group where we'd all watch the show at the same time and text each other who we thought was going to be the killer.
JOE: Indoor or outdoor music gigs?
If you get a particularly good evening it can be an emotional experience if you've had a few. You start looking at the sky and it becomes a spiritual experience, you can forget who's even playing.
I always get injured at open air gigs though. I got kicked out of the Foo Fighters at Oxygen. I remember the headline in the paper said, "Bressie acting the fool".
My sister was with me and they were trying to get her to mosh, but she wasn't having any of it so I said, "you wanna mosh?" And so I just started picking up people like it was WWF. If you want to mosh, don't be pulling some poor, innocent girl into it.
JOE: It needs to be a case of mosh on somebody your own size?
Niall: Yeah, but I was still twice their size, but there were many more of them. I used my old rugby skills.
JOE: And now for a different kind of moshing, can you remember your first kiss?
Niall: Yeah. We both needed a towel afterwards, saliva everywhere.
The thing about the first kiss was that I had three sisters, so I used to ask them what to do and they pulled the piss out of me and told me all the fucking stupid things to do.
The girl was terrible too to be fair to her. It wasn't an experience I'd rush to do again.
JOE: Chinese or Indian takeaway?
Niall: Indian. I love hot food. If I'm eating and there's snot coming out of my nose then we're laughing.
JOE: That's true. What's your karaoke song of choice? This is especially interesting as you're a professional singer...
Niall: I wouldn't call myself a professional singer, but my karaoke song is 'Sledgehammer' by Peter Gabriel.
JOE: What person, dead or alive, would you want to go for a pint with?
Niall: Can I pick two?
JOE: We'll allow it...
Niall: Larry David and Steve Coogan. It's hard to make that call between them, depends what mood I'm in. Although I don't know if Larry David drinks, I wouldn't imagine him as a pint drinker.
JOE: Have you ever spent a night in a cell?
JOE: Was that after the Croke Park streak?
Niall: No! I got away with that one. I don't know if I can be done for that now actually, it'd be fairly harsh. Anyway, I was just highlighting a weakness in the security at the time.
I did spend a night in a cell though, not for actually doing anything, but for people believing I had done something. I've never been in a cell since.
JOE: You can probably tell that we came up with all of these questions on the loo. What do you like to read when you're in the bathroom?
Niall: There's a book at home in our house called 'Do Ants Have Arseholes?'
It's a book about all of these kinds of questions that you'd never think of asking, but then, when you read them, you realise they're really good questions. Like, "does a bear actually shit in the woods?"
These are the questions I ponder on.
JOE: Who was your first celebrity crush?
Niall thinks long and hard for a few minutes... still no answer.
JOE: Twink? Was it Twink? It was Twink, wasn't it?
Niall: No, but I was certainly curious about Twink.
Do you know who mine was? This is really weird. It was the lead singer of L7, the girl band, a grunge band. I can't remember her name, but she was a girl who played bass guitar and that did it for me, like Courtney Love.
JOE: Neighbours or Home and Away?
Niall: I think Home and Away has just become an Australian version of Eastenders, it's depressing. Neighbours is easier to watch and it was there first, so I'd say Neighbours.
Sure you're a Murder She Wrote man anyway.
Niall: Exactly. Actually, she was my first celebtrity crush, Angela Lansbury. I'd be very paranoid if I met her though because it would mean somebody in the nearby area is dead.
JOE: Would you rather fight one hundred duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck?
Niall: Imagine the size of that giant duck's wing, forget about it, you'd be fucked. There'd be no fighting that. Mind you, even the ducks in St Stephen's Green are pretty big, it must be what they're being fed.
I think you'd have a much better chance kicking and swinging at the duck-sized horses. I'd find them a little less petrifying if the tiny horses were coming towards me.
JOE: And finally, if you could invent one flavour of ice cream, what would it be?
Niall: Toast. Toast ice cream. And if I could smell like anything in the world, it'd be toast.
If you're interested in taking part in My1000Hours and want to help put mental health on the map, then check out all of the necessary entry criteria below and click here for an official entry form.
When: 7 March 2015
Entry Closing Date: 5th March 2015 - 23:59
Where: Phoenix Park, Dublin
The Irish Independent My1000Hours 5k/10k run is a new initiative by Bressie and co aiming to put our mental health on the map. My1000Hours aims to help bring clarity to the subject, exploring ways we can improve both our emotional and physical fitness. My1000Hours will also serve as an online support blog for those hoping to challenge themselves and require some guidance
Everyone needs a goal to run towards. Let this be your goal for 2015. Sign up for either the 5k run or 10k run and let’s use YOUR1000HOURS towards getting FIT and starting the year how you want to continue.
- Get fit and, most importantly, have fun over a beautiful traffic-free course through Dublin's Phoenix Park.
- A top quality brand new My1000Hours Technical T-Shirt.
- Charitable donation made for every entry to the chosen charity partner, Aware
- Chip timing for accurate race results.
- Athletics Ireland licensed event.
- Live event broadcast and entertainment from 98fm.
- A packed race goodie bag filled to the brim with swag from the many race partners.
5k Regular Entry - €16
10k Regular Entry - €25
Main pic via RTÉ.