Christopher Eccleston & coeliac disease
How many famous coeliacs can you name?
Cat got your tongue? Me, too.
But there ARE famous coeliacs out there. And I discovered a newbie completely by accident. I was reading The Sunday Times and happened upon an article featuring Christopher Eccleston:
Given I hardly ever see coeliac disease in the papers, my eyes practically popped out of my head. I was thrilled someone I admired so much was part of my club, and also desperately disappointed he thought he couldn’t have crisps (admittedly, there are quite a few that are out of bounds).
I immediately tried to find him on social media but didn’t get anywhere (although he has a massive following on Instagram he doesn’t use it and there are multiple fake accounts on Twitter).
But then! I happened to stop at a services on the M42 and saw a leaflet for a theatre near me in Bristol. Who should be appearing 2 days later but Christopher Eccleston!
Immediately I hatched a plan.
I’d go to the supermarket and buy up all the gluten-free crisps he’d been missing. These would include coeliac-friendly versions of Wotsits and salt & vinegar crisps. Then I’d present them to him at the show. We’d become friends for life.
Of course, the reality was I arrived at the show clutching my package of crisps feeling like an utter berk. I mean, who gives a famous person a present of crisps?! It didn’t help that the audience was full of frightfully clever people who fired questions at Christopher and lapped up his insights on 1960s kitchen sink dramas (my knowledge of this subject falls short). People had turned up to give intellectual insights, not swap snacks!
To add insult to injury, I'd accidentally left my coat at my sister-in-law's and had to wear a rather tight-fitting long down jacket instead. There's nothing like looking dodgy AND feeling slightly sick with fear to make things even more regrettable.
Despite feeling ridiculous, I decided the only thing worse than turning up with a packet of crisps to give a multi award-winning actor was to go home with the crisps. So I approached the staff and explained my gift. Admittedly, they did look at me with raised brows. That is, until a ticket collector admitted they'd spent the afternoon finding special gluten-free oat milk for him, so my story wasn’t as laughable as it seemed.
A few minutes later I was ushered backstage to Christopher who was engrossed in signing autographs. Still feeling silly, I blurted out my story about coeliac crisps. To my utter delight, he was so pleased he leapt up and gave me a big hug! He then told me he’d only been diagnosed the year before and the doctors thought long covid had revealed the disease. As I left he told me he’d enjoy his crisps in the taxi ride home. I was thrilled!
So if there’s someone you admire and they happen to be coeliac, I really recommend taking a chance to talk to them, even if it has to be online via on social media (such as an Instagram Live session).
Meeting another coeliac is also a really useful tactic to use with children who’ve just been diagnosed. Years ago when I trained to be a teacher, I happened to have a small girl in my class who’d had a positive biopsy and was understandably upset. When I told her I was a coeliac her face lit up! I could see immediately she no longer felt so alone. It can be key to getting a better outlook on life if you feel someone you look up to is able to have a great life regardless of a medical diagnosis. So if your child is struggling but you can find a coeliac actor or a singer they admire, it’s worth pointing out to them. Even better, you could pop a message on social media to said person with something along the lines of:
“My child’s just been diagnosed coeliac and they’re feeling a bit down. They really respect you; do you have any tips to make things better?”
If they respond, your child can now boast they’ve had a personal message from [favourite actor/singer] and feel much cheered!
Want more advice on coeliac disease? Come to make latest webinar! Click here for details.