Katie’s progress at 5 months on The Sinclair Method

Had to share this.

…I awoke this morning to a notification on my phone that my good friend Katie had posted a new video to YouTube. Oh Goody! I always enjoy these; she’s becoming a great ambassador for The Sinclair method (TSM) and her videos are always fantastic – she’s a natural on camera and these videos are always really well put together.

I think it’s really great. It’s lovely to hear that TSM is really working for Katie.

Please do check out her YouTube channel HERE.

It’s so exciting to see new people picking up the social media torch like this; at one time there used to be so few of us writing or making videos about The Sinclair Method, but now it’s like there’s a whole bunch of us… haha! – we’re becoming like a superhero team, I tell ya: ‘The Avengers of Recovery’.

Check out my previous posts about Katie HERE and HERE.

The Infernal Möbius Loop of Addiction

Möbius Strip II by M.C. Escher. Like many artists, mathematicians and philosophers, M.C. Escher was fascinated by Möbius bands and how they symbolise infinity.

Hi everyone. Hope you all had a safe and happy Christmas. I pretty much just binge-ate yesterday, caught up with some TV and did my now traditional thing of watching Scarface. As I previously mentioned HERE, I don’t really celebrate Christmas – to me it’s just another bank holiday… just another day, really.

About today’s post: this is an unusually deep entry for me; a chain of thought that emerged after reading an article by another blogger the other day (see: https://afracturedfaithblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/23/spin-class-stories/). A good post; one that had me contemplating a Stephen King quote: “Hell is repetition”.

It really got me thinking about the never ending loop of addiction that is so hard for many people to escape from.

Many addicts will describe it as like being stuck on a hamster’s wheel, but, as far as visual metaphors go, the image that I prefer is that of a Möbius band.

From https://sites.google.com/site/themobiusbandart/artistic-implications:

‘The fascinating properties of the möbius band – its one-sidedness and one-edgedness – have unsurprisingly resulted in association of the shape with symbolic meaning. Most prominently, the möbius band is often associated with the concept of infinity, because of the infinite uninterrupted paths one can trace along its single surface. The band is also associated with unity and non-duality, due to the fact that two sides and two edges are joined and become one side and one edge in the construction of a möbius strip. Because of its symbolism for infinity and unity, some couples opt for möbius band-shaped wedding rings. On a similar note, some consider the Möbius band to be a fitting symbol for the relationship of space and time in the universe – they appear to be separate, like the two sides of the möbius strip, but there actually is no separation; space and time are not distinct and together form our universe.’

Hmm… yes, it has some romantic symbolism too. As the article mentions, it’s become a symbol of marriage – but that doesn’t invalidate my use of it as an addiction metaphor at all. Especially when comparing being addicted to having a weird form of Stockholm syndrome and the booze being like an abusive romantic partner that you keep going back to again and again and again, despite how damaging the relationship really is.

The saddest thing is that many people don’t realise they’ve become stuck on that loop until too late. In my own case, I crossed an invisible line and went from being merely a heavy drinker to someone who actively craves the stuff all the time.

Escaping the Loop

And that was me for many years: I was one of M.C. Escher’s ants crawling along an infinite loop: every day was like Groundhog Day for me.

But internally, despite the usual denials, I knew that there was something very, very wrong. I knew that my journey through this life had steered badly off-course somehow.

It’s quite hard to adequately put into words this feeling of ‘wrongness’ about my place in the universe that I felt around this time. But – put it this way – the lyrics of the Talking Heads song Once in a Lifetime always resonated very strongly with me on an emotional level… lines such as ‘How did I get here?’, ‘My God, what have I done?’ and ‘Same as it ever was…’

The story of my search for answers, how I tried everything from Alcoholics Anonymous to acupuncture and how I subsequently discovered The Sinclair Method is well-documented on here and other places, but what I don’t think I’ve ever come close to adequately articulating is how inspiring David’s Sinclair’s work has been to me. His epiphany regarding the relationship between Pavlovian reinforcement and extinction and the discovery of the endogenous opioidergic system is an example of genius synthesis that still floors me even today.

It really does.

It is a crime that he was never awarded a Nobel for it. It really is.


So what else have I been doing the last few days? (aside from contemplating really deep stuff about time, space and infinity, that is. Haha)

Well, it’s been quite interesting because a gentleman called Anthony who had seen one of my videos on YouTube ( this one HERE, to be specific) got in touch to tell me how much The Sinclair Method has helped him and how he’s become inspired to add his own voice to the campaign to raise more awarenesss of it by volunteering to do a podcast interview with the LDN Research Trust.

Great stuff – it’s wonderful that other people are choosing to pick up the torch like this and add their voice to the campaign. Not just that – Linda Elsegood and the other guys and gals from the LDN Trust are old friends of mine, so I really look forward to hearing that interview, which is scheduled for the second week of next month.

Here’s the interview that I did with Linda some moons ago. (God, as the photo shows, I was fat back then! Haha)

Meanwhile…

…I also finally got round to adding my name to the Wikipedia article on Spit! comics (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spit!_(comics)).

Somewhat narcissistic, perhaps… but hey, after years of disowning and being really embarrassed by my old work for that magazine, I’m finally taking ownership of it and finally standing up and saying ‘Yup, that was me – I was the dude that wrote and drew Sefton Ward: Paranormal Detective and Nero Ramone: Porno Star turned Hitman‘ for Spit! comic.

Scroll down to see a mildly NSFW scan of one of my old Nero Ramone strips…

 

 

 

(Still with me? The NSFW disclaimer didn’t put you off?)

…Okay, here it is:

Nero Ramone: Porno Star turned Hitman. A comic strip I wrote and drew for Spit! comic waaay back in 1996. I quite like the artwork for this one and the concept isn’t too bad either (a sort of hybrid of King Dong and the Sam Jackson character from Pulp Fiction). The only problem with it is that it’s fine as as one-off strip, but the concept didn’t really have the legs for a series.

The Wikipedia article on Spit! is marked as ‘stub’, by the way… meaning that it’s in need of expansion, so I may take it upon myself to add some further stuff to it about some of the other contributors and what they’re up to these days. I think that there should be a proper chronicle of the history of these type of magazines because, historically, Spit! was part of this whole new wave in adult humour that became very popular post-Thatcher in the UK… it signified a new freedom of sorts.

Okaaaay… it’s come to that point again. The point where I’ve just about ran out of things to say.

So for now I’ll bid you ‘adieu’ and leave you with hands-down my favourite film trailer of 2017, the Deadpool 2 teaser with its hysterically funny Bob Ross parody:

‘I’m gonna whack off again’… ‘hugs, not drugs’…hahahahahaha!

Classic. I just hope the film lives up to such great marketing.

 

 

 

 

#179 – Alcoholics Anonymous — The League of Nerds

Alcoholics Anonymous is often held as the best way to cure an Alcoholic. Is Alcoholism a disease? – does AA work? – whats with all the religious stuff? Buck and Myles (the B team) are joined by Jon Stewart, he spent 14 years attending AA meetings but left and stayed sober. He tells the B […]

See the rest of the article and listen to the accompanying podcast via #179 – Alcoholics Anonymous — The League of Nerds or watch the podcast via YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHfnp76cSsQ&feature=youtu.be

[Note from Gary: whoops… thanks to my unfamiliarity of how to share or reblog stuff on WordPress it’s in fact taken a couple of goes to get this right. Please do check out this podcast link. It’s really good – my friend Jon Stewart is on great, erudite form. I really like his statement “If you want self esteem you do esteemable things” and I can really relate to what he says about being stuck in the middle between between the AA Taliban and the anti-AAers.]

An alcoholic abroad

I just came across this blog this morning in my WordPress reader and I think it’s really interesting.

Though I was fortunate in that I never had such a problem, I have heard that some people have issues with what’s become known as a ‘nal-over’ effect from taking naltrexone… a bad hangover.

Avoiding “WordPress Tourette Syndrome”: The Importance of Omission

Hello dear reader. Well, I’m not sure how many posts I’ve got in me in the lead up to 2018… this may well be the last of 2017.

So what’s on my mind today?

Well, I’m just pondering upon something Quentin Tarantino once wrote about how, when it came to screenwriting, what he chose to omit was always just as important to him as what he would include.

Hmm… it’s interesting… I mean, Tarantino is certainly not the type of person that you think of as “Mr. Restraint”, but if you look at the original screenplay for his debut feature Reservoir Dogs it is a masterclass in lean economy; there’s not a speck of fat on that story and the fact that Tarantino leaves the very worst carnage in that story completely unshown (e.g. Mr. Blonde’s massacre in the jewellery store and the ear-slicing scene) makes it all the more powerful when left up to the imagination of the viewer.

“But what about all of the sweary dialogue and things like the silly Madonna monologue at the beginning of the film? Isn’t that completely gratuitous?” you might say, but I would argue otherwise; I would say that the uncouth dialogue and pop culture discussions that the characters engage in reveal volumes about their different personalities. They serve a real purpose.

For example, the unpopular views that Mr. Pink expresses on the etiquette of tipping (or rather not tipping) waitresses mark him out as a real individual and free thinker who doesn’t just follow the crowd and someone whose conscience is unburdened by the need to be particularly liked (a selfish streak that would in fact save his life through the course of the story, ironically enough).

Likewise, the fact that someone like Mr. White passionately sticks up for low paid waitresses demonstrates a person with clear empathy and compassion, sure, but later scenes where he talks racist trash about black people reveal the man to have a conflicted, contradictory sense of ethics at his core… something that really comes into play later on when the story becomes very much about White’s personal code of honour and how that impacts upon the fate of his colleague, the seriously injured Mr. Orange. This becomes the heart of the film, in fact. (***Note: since writing this I’ve had a rethink and I’ve come to the conclusion that “conflicted” is the wrong word to apply to Mr. White’s ethical rulebook. No… what I really meant to say is that, in terms of morality, he is a man who operates on a completely different code to most people… one that seems all about honour, but one that has some callous caveats which give licence to some pretty brutal behaviour.***)

As for the much-discussed Madonna monologue (by Tarantino himself in his role as Mr. Brown): well, that tells you that for all the character is intelligent enough to string together the words for a passionate (albeit vulgar) argument, his crude misinterpretation of Like a Virgin reveals a deeply immature, emotionally stunted man who likely resorted to a life of crime because his childish nature probably got him fired from every legit job he might have ever had.

Mr. Brown (as played by Quentin Tarantino): a man who just doesn’t understand Madonna…

“Okay then, Gary, you’ve droned on about Quentin Tarantino for the last six paragraphs – what does this have to do with anything?”, I hear you ask.

…Well, I’m just thinking about my process when it comes to blogging, really. As cathartic as it is to write these articles and as lengthy as they often are, believe it or not I often bin a lot of what I write; particularly my rants.

In fact I’ve written 2,000 word manifestos before today that I’ve thrown into the WordPress trashcan.

Why?

Because I feel some economy is important and I think that it’s too easy to get into the habit of writing about the things you hate all the time, particularly in a blog like this… and believe me, my frustrations are legion (especially when it comes to how unjust it is that people with Alcohol Use Disorder don’t have ready access to naltrexone and The Sinclair Method), but here’s the thing: if I were to let my anger overpower my emotional compass and if I just unleashed the beast then what example of supposed “recovery” does that really give?

No. I consciously choose a different path to lazy fireband polemics on here.

I choose love rather than hate.

Not that I’m a saint, mind. I don’t completely self-censor myself – hey, my writing on here is littered with words like “fuck” and “shit”… but the point is I am getting better with self-restraint and I think that makes me a better writer.

I think that another reason why I don’t turn this blog into The Orange Papers: Part Two is (a) because there’s enough blogs like that already out there, and (b) I’d like to think that I could actually strike up a reasonable conversation with any members of Alcoholics Anonymous on here without unnecessarily insulting them.

Rudeness is not the way to persuade anyone, I feel… and a little bit of courtesy goes a long way – even when you disagree with someone.

So that’s my thought for the day.

 

As for what else I’ve been up to: well, I got into the gym today and spoke to my trainer, setting up a new post-Christmas training regimen for myself that’s going to be truly brutal.

I also want to start the ball rolling with some driving lessons; something that’s been on my to-do list for too long and that has been a real impediment to my getting back into employment, given the number of jobs that require a clean driving licence – not having one has proven really limiting.

And, last but not least, I finally finished watching the last season of The Strain… which was good, though didn’t quite live up to the promise of the novels (though I do think that some of the changes made from the source material were bold, ballsy choices).

 

Okay, well that’s me done until whenever.

Have a safe and happy festive holiday, guys.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

P.S. Just on the subject of Madonna… not a huge fan, but I have always had a guilty appreciation for this track. It’s a mushy ballad, I know… but i can’t help liking what I like; one of her better earlier ones, that’s for sure. By the way, I can’t get over how young Matthew Modine looks in this video – flipping ‘eck! …He’s changed a lot between this and Stranger Things:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zn5OJGucveg

 

Zombie Christmas

Wow. It’s the 18th of December already? Only a week away now before the birthday of the most famous zombie in history.

Sheesh… I’m in a rut. The flat is an absolute tip and I haven’t been into the gym in ages. I’m also smoking far too much (a bad habit that I reacquired whilst on the psych ward during the summer – a habit that I’ve had some difficulty shaking off).

Though, on the upside, I managed to finish off my Xena homage for my friend Edie:

“Edie: Warrior Princess”. Pencil on A3 watercolour paper.

As regular readers of this site will recall, I started this piece just before my recent trip to London and showed off an earlier work-in-progress photo of it HERE.

So what do I think of it now?

…I think it’s okay, though the face (specifically the eyes) are a bit too asymmetrical, so I may have a bit of a further tinker with it before I post it off to Edie. Sadly, even if I post it off as is now she’s not going to get it before Christmas because of the distance it needs to travel (Edie lives in Brooklyn) and the fact that the international mailing system comes to a bit of a standstill at about this precise time of year.

But it’s not bad; not the best drawing I’ve ever done, but not the worst either. It might work quite well as the basis for a colour painting, actually. I think it would look quite nice in acrylics and I think that what I’d probably do is add a mist effect to give better separation between the figure and the castle in the background.

So – anyway – what else have I been doing?

Well, continuing the zombie theme, I’ve been playing Dead Island: Definitive Edition on my PS4 – trying to finish the game; but I’ve reached a point over three quarters of the way in where I’m a bit stuck, so I’ll need to look up a walkthrough on YouTube most likely.

God, zombies are brilliant fictional monsters, aren’t they? They really are the best fictional creation of the last century (RIP George A Romero, bless him) They’re sort of like the new nazis – ideal go-to monsters for any fiction writers that need completely disposable antagonists for a movie or a book or a videogame or whatever.

As for the rest of the week…

Well, through Facebook I caught up with a cousin who I haven’t spoken to in years. Which was fun – she now lives in Vancouver, Canada and runs a wedding planning business.

I must say, I quite admire the life she’s made for herself; I admire her can-do spirit. Like me, she sees the world beyond the self-limiting prism (or should that be “prison”) that many people from our hometown seem to view the world through.

What can I say… it’s great that Nikki’s made something of herself and it was lovely to hear from her. A really nice surprise.


A gut-busting “Munch box” from Chippizza served in a 16″ pizza box, containing a pizza, donner meat, a parmesan and chips.

It was also nice to spend some time with my brother last night, with the two of us pigging out on a massive “munch box” from a local takeaway called Chippizza and watching old episodes of The IT Crowd.

It was fun. We should do it more often.

Andrew’s an interesting character, actually. Like me, he’s quite creative… an excellent draughtsman… except that whereas my focus is more on art with an occasional bit of writing, he’s quite full-on as a writer… self-publishing three novels and contributing to scores of horror anthologies

It’s a shame that we don’t get to hang out more often. Alas, not only does he slave away on all of these books every day, but he also works full-time as a quality and control inspector at a local factory… talk about having a busy life.

One of the many small press horror anthologies – Fearful Fathoms – that my brother Andrew Bell has contributed a short story to.

…As for what else I’ve been up to, there’s not much else to report.

I’m still researching the Krampus legend… my hope is to bang out another piece of artwork before Christmas and I think Krampus would be quite a fun theme to have a crack at; I could see myself doing a whole series of artworks just on Krampus, actually… which could be potentially lucrative if I decided to sell any prints of my work.

Other than that I’m just ticking over, still acting as an administrator on the Your Choice, Your Recovery Facebook page – a role which I quite enjoy; it’s good to be part of something that really helps people with drinking problems. Especially at this time of year. It’s nice to use my experience with The Sinclair Method to benefit others.

And on that note, I think I’ll sign off for now.

Thanks for reading, it’s been a blast.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

 

 

Why I’m Still Here: The Importance of Celebrating my Recovery

Well, I’m still decompressing after my recent trip to London – I’ve got a touch of travel fatigue plus writing a blog post a day to cover my adventures in The Big Smoke actually quite challenged me.

Me in Trafalgar Square during my recent trip to London

But why do I do it? Why do I write this blog?

Well, given the invisible nature of those people in recovery from alcoholism using The Sinclair Method (as previously discussed HERE) I think that it’s important to maintain a social media presence in order to say “I’m still here”… but, more than that, it’s also important to honour my recovery by having as much FUN as possible during the time that I’ve been granted and to try really hard to be the best version of myself.

It’s about embracing joy and spreading optimism.

If my scribbles on here make even one person who might be struggling smile and feel more hopeful then I’ve done a good job.

What I hope my story demonstrates is that it is possible to come back from the brink and to re-write your own narrative.

As Michael Caine says, everyone should reinvent themselves at least once in their lifetime.

And I also hope that my story shows that even under the strain of the worst adversity it is possible to stay sober and to come out the other end sane.

Patrick Jane (as portrayed by Simon Baker) in The Mentalist

Believe it or not, after my mother’s murder and during the course of the nightmare ordeal of the subsequent trial I found inspiration from the strangest source – the fictional character Patrick Jane from the TV show The Mentalist; I really admire the way how that character is depicted on the show… as someone who, despite having gone through the most traumatic bereavement (the murder of his wife and daughter), consciously chooses to heroically embrace the light rather than spend his life brooding.

It’s a brilliant performance by Simon Baker and I look at it and think “Yeah, that’s exactly the way to be – and that’s how my mum would want me to be”.

The fact is, it would have been quite easy for me to become an embittered and cruel man after what happened to me and my family, but I choose a different path.

 

…And on that note, because further words on the subject escape me for now, I’ll close this article with a classic by Electric Light Orchestra dedicated to anyone reading this who might be struggling at the moment.

 

 

Adventures in the Big Smoke: Day 4… and my visit to “The Satanic Flea Market”!

I was too tired to write this up last night, hence why it’s a day late.

So how did my Sunday go?

Inside Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club for the Satanic Flea Market. As you can see, the venue was packed out. Really busy.

Very well, actually. Mike picked me up after 1.00 p.m. and we drove to Bethnal Green in the East end of London, an area steeped in history (this was where the Kray twins grew up).

The traffic was a bit of a nightmare, but we got there. We had to queue up for a while, but once we got into Bethnal Men’s Working Club it was quite fun attending the Satanic Flea Market, despite hardly being able to move given how packed out the place was.

 

But I did buy a few bits and bobs. Like this “Satan Claus” print.

And this iron-on patch:

I also had a three tarot card reading and was presented with the three cards below which I was told represent upcoming success (the card marked “domination”), happiness (“the sun”) and – most intriguingly – romance with a younger woman (“the daughter of the cups in the north”)

This marks my last full day in London – I’m due to set back off home today. 

And… it’s been good… though Saturday’s memorial service was a sombre affair it has overall been a really nice trip. I’m glad I came. It’s also been fun keeping this “travel journal” whilst I’ve been in the Big Smoke – thanks for reading my adventures, guys; it’s been a blast.

Peace and love,

GARY

Adventures in the Big Smoke: Day 3

After getting a bit lost yesterday as a consequence of taking the wrong stop I was more organised today… which is just as well because it was the most important day of my trip to London.

Today I attended a memorial service for families bereaved by homicide at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square and lit a candle in remembrance of my mum:

It was a good service.

Though I’m not religious I could still appreciate the value of all of these families coming together to grieve their lost ones. The church had hired professional singers who were absolutely fantastic and belted out some great songs.

I have to confess that I nearly lost it when they sang Somewhere over the rainbow… a song that was especially moving to hear at the service, given how much mum loved it… especially the version by Connie Talbot that came about as a result of Britain’s Got Talent.

But I held it together quite well and also attended SAMM’s annual general meeting afterwards.

SAMM National (SAMM is an acronym for Support After Murder & Manslaughter) have really helped me this past year, by the way… they’ve been a real lifeline. I don’t know how I would have coped without them.


I don’t have much else to report, really. I just came straight back to Mike’s place after the service.

I did take a few photos and shot a couple of videos of Trafalgar Square, but didn’t otherwise do anything special.

Tomorrow I go to a Krampus-themed “satanic flea market/anti-Christmas fayre” in Bethnal Green which should provide some tongue-in-cheek fun.

 

Okay, well that’s it from me for now. Thanks for reading.

 

Love and peace,

GARY

Adventures in the Big Smoke: Day 2

A photo of St. Paul’s cathedral that I took during my travels today

Someone remind me… how does that saying go – “God laughs when people make plans”, right?

Pheeeew. What a day.

After finding out that my good friend Frank was ill and thus unable to accompany me today I resolved to go it alone. Which worked out fine for the most part except that (a) I should have set off to the National Portrait Gallery much earlier in the day (because the traffic was mental by the time I got into central London by train) and (b) I shouldn’t have listened to some advice from someone about how Charing Cross is “easy walking distance” from Cannon Street Station.

Yup, I got a bit lost.

 

Selfie taken near the Thames today. Weirdly, my head seems a bit distorted in this image – like I’ve been given a Bruce Campbell lantern jaw! Haha

“Thank God for Google Maps” is all I have to say, because after having walked around for what seemed like forever I finally made it to the National Portrait Gallery.

It was worth the effort, as it turned out, because I loved the art on display by the likes of Lucian Freud, John Singer Sargent and many other famous artists.

My most striking observation of the NPG, though, is that the very best portraits were of celebrities, not royalty… all of which were technically very good paintings (often painted at an imposing scale) but which lacked the charm and personality of portraits such as the ones of Elton John and Paul McCartney that I saw.

I’m just sad that I didn’t get to attend an AA meeting as I’d planned, but the fact is I elected to come straight back to Mike’s place after visiting the National Portrait Gallery because it was getting quite late in the afternoon and I’d been warned how bad getting back home can be come rush hour.


Now to get set for the church service tomorrow… which is going to be an emotional day, since it’s going to be all about remembering my mum; that’s the main reason why I came to London, after all.

Christ, this has been a long, dreary year. I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

Maybe this event tomorrow will give some form of catharsis… I don’t know… “closure” does not exist as far as I’m concerned; but I’m glad that I’m there to represent my mum, all the same.

Okay, well that’s enough gabbing from me for now. Time to get settled for the night.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

P.S. There is an exhibition of Cezanne’s work on at the NPG at the moment, but I decided that £18 for a ticket was a bit much. I like Cezanne, but I don’t like Cezanne that much!