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Interview: Limmy on TV, Christmas cooking...and saying f*** a lot

WHILE chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, turkeys are being trimmed and all similarly festive food stuffs are enjoyed, Brian Limond will be fretting over making a goat's cheese and caramelised onion tart.

Picture: Mark Mainz

It may sound like a sketch from his eponymous show, but the Glasgow comedian known as Limmy is taking it deathly seriously.

"It's got to be done perfectly," he says. "There's going to be practising. I've got to get tins which are 9cm or 3.5in. I've looked it up, Delia Smith's recipe, and she says you've got to get the right tins. I have it echoing round in my head: 'I cannot stress enough how important it is to get the correct size of tin'. I spent a night looking on Amazon and that size of tin doesn't exist, so I don't know what I'm going to do." He bites back a smile. "It's ruined Christmas."

But don't let that fool you. Limond is a budding culinary guru, regularly keeping his 94,500 Twitter followers up to date with his adventures in bread-making. Having unsuccessfully dabbled in soup ("that didnae work oot"), the 39-year-old embarked on honing his baking skills instead. "The food processor has a dough hook, so I decided I'd try to make bread," he says. "I started with that, then I thought: 'Forget about the f****** dough hook, I'll just knead it by hand'. One thing led to another and I got right into it. I was never into making things before, but it's really good."

Does he reckon this is middle age? "Aye, definitely," he says. "I wouldn't have been into this years ago. Everyone says it's dead rewarding and satisfying. That's true. I don't think anyone could make it and go: 'Ah, who gives a f***. I made a loaf, it smells cracking and tastes brilliant, who cares, I'm not doing that again.'"

It's not the only treat he's whipped up this yuletide season. Limmy's Show Christmas Special airs on BBC Two Scotland this evening, a smorgasbord of seasonal fun. The half-hour show stars some of his most popular comic creations including lovable stoner Dee Dee being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, hard-bitten former junkie Jacqueline McCafferty engaging in present-buying one-upmanship and Mr Mulvaney souring the office secret Santa with an unsavoury gift.

Limond first shot to fame in 2006 and fast garnered a loyal following with his eye-wateringly close-to-the-bone sketches. He admits he is more akin to miserly Ebenezer Scrooge than jolly Clark Griswold from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when it comes to holiday cheer. What's on his list to Santa this year? "Nothing," he shrugs. "I'm on a diet and off chocolate so I've been telling people not to get me that. Don't get me socks either because I have plenty. I don't need a lot: I've got a telly, a computer - what else can you get me?"

When we meet, Limond isn't as brash as his on-screen and social media persona might suggest. He comes across as thoughtful, sensitive and articulate. Over the next hour he'll run a gauntlet of emotions, veering between bold confidence and childlike seeking of reassurance ("I feel I always need to check with other people and if they say 'naw' or 'aye', then they are probably right and I'm probably wrong").

While many celebrities meticulously sculpt a sanitised version of their perceived flaws, Limond lays bare his soul - sometimes to unbearably raw extent - unleashing a constant stream of consciousness, like a scab being ripped from an open wound. He also says f*** a lot.

It's been a tumultuous year for him. He has spoken openly about his mental health on Twitter, sharing that he's felt "semi-suicidal for years" and had begun taking anti-depressants. Asked about it, he describes being trapped in a downward spiral of catastrophising and negative thought-patterns.

"I don't know if I was quite ready to top myself but I was thinking about [suicide] notes," he says. "What I would put in it so that when Daniel [his three-year-old son] was old enough, he would read it and know that it wasn't his fault.

"That his da was ill, he had something up with him and couldn't go on. I was looking at pictures of him about the house and thought: 'He'll know and she [his girlfriend Lynn] will know, that I looked at that, ma wee baby smiling, and that wasn't enough to stop me from killing myself.'"

Is that ultimately what saved him? "Naw, that wouldn't hold me back, that's the f****** problem," he says. "It was horrible. I was so determined to kill myself it was almost like this tough dilemma: how do I top myself, but make this alright? See if I didn't have Daniel, it's nice and easy. Lynn would get over it. It would take maybe six months, but she'll find someone else. When it's a wean it makes it harder."

His GP prescribed an anti-depressant, Citalopram, which Limond claims "worked a treat" and saw his dark moods subside. "I felt more hopeful and happy," he says. In September, however, he made the decision to cease taking the drug after experiencing side-effects. "The pills started to not work here and there," he says. "I thought: 'I don't like this unpredictabilty.' So, I came off them in an unadvised sort of way."

In that he didn't tell his doctor? He nods, leaning closer to my dictaphone. "Look, this isn't advised - don't try it at home," he says. "I looked things up on the internet which said it should take months to come off them. Never come off them straight away because it's really bad and all these horror stories.

"Then I read some guy saying he'd done it over a fortnight. Just some username on a forum and thought: 'Oh right, that's what I want to hear'. It may well just have been a computer-generated answer."

But despite "expecting hell", Limond ploughed on with his plan, keeping it a secret from family and friends including Lynn, his girlfriend of 13 years. "It was fine for a few days, but then I got this seasickness feeling for about two weeks," he says. "Even just moving my eyes like that" - he looks to one side - "it felt like my brain was slopping about. It was like being on a roundabout or swings. I didn't tell anyone. I completely hid it and it felt good in a way, like I was taking control. That is one of my personal wee problems. I'm always checking other people's opinions."

He doesn't rule out taking anti-depressants again in the future ("it's good knowing they are there") and insists he has no regrets. "It was almost like a six-month, lovely sunny holiday," he says. From himself? Limond shakes his head. "From all the negativity," he clarifies.

It's a remark typical of his candour. At one point he blinks, as if suddenly self-conscious of having poured out his innermost thoughts, fears and insecurities, lifting the lid of a nearby teapot and peering inside. "What's in this stuff?" he jokes.

But Limond isn't done yet. A fervent supporter of Scottish independence, he embarks on a lengthy and passionate diatribe best summarised as "not a financial thing, about being better off, f*** oil or the English" nor "a loyalty to the soil of Scotland, the hills, clans and s*** like that" rather being riled by the notion of "we cannae dae it". Which makes him want to scream: "What the f*** is with that f****** attitude?"

He is equally frank about the perils of fatherhood, describing the first 18 months after Daniel was born as "like Vietnam or something, this constant feeling of danger" where he panicked over sharp corners, hard surfaces and "going into a soft play area and there's someone walking past with a coffee".

Limond is still trying to fathom how he will explain to his son what he does for a living. "I'm wondering when I can show him things like my home orgy picture, which is seven of me in the bed shagging me," he muses. "At what age does get to see that?" He reckons "14 is probably safe" : "By then he will have seen beheadings and all sorts."

Limond looks thoughtful. "Anyway, it's not like I'm a porn star or make snuff films," he says. And you can't argue with that logic.

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