Big changes coming – The Evolution of The Free Pigeon Press

Time for a bit of a breather and a bit of a pause for thought about how this blog is doing:

Overall, it’s not been a bad few months. I’ve picked up some extra followers (“hello!”) and it’s obvious that the site is now starting to show up in more search engine listings about The Sinclair Method as well as get a steady number of referrals from Facebook.

Great stuff.

So what next?

Well, given the favourable response to some of the Q & A articles I’ve recently posted I’m seriously thinking about adopting a podcast format as it’s obvious that an audience really enjoys hearing people’s stories and really gets a lot out of hearing an actual dialogue… and I’ve gotta say that I’m quite inspired by the work of my friends Michael and Katie with their excellent respective podcasts and YouTube videos…

…So I think now would be a good time to experiment a bit more with things like YouTube and also perhaps doing some work to improve the actual look of the site with a new template perhaps – as, for one thing, even though the site looks quite decent on my Sony laptop it honestly leaves a bit to be desired when viewed on my Samsung S7 screen (where it looks a bit “crammed”)… so it might be worth seeing if I can find a webpage template that’s visually more cross-device friendly.

Anyway, besides that it’s all good. Everything’s ticking over quite nicely and I’ve got a couple of really exciting collaborations coming up that I can’t really currently talk about because I don’t want to give away any “spoilers”, but that will appear on here quite soon.

The only bit of anxiety that I have about experimenting with new stuff is just around the fact that whilst I’m arguably a confident enough writer I’m honestly like a chimpanzee trying to solve a Rubik’s cube when it comes to trying to figure out some of the tech stuff… it’s all “flying by the seat of one’s pants” with me, given my lack of technical know-how (hehe! – you know what? I think poor Mike is starting to despair of the number of “How-the-f*ck-do-I-do-this”themed e-mails he gets from me all the time! Haha!!! 😀 ).

Oh well.

Okay, well that’s this particular reverie over with for now, I think.

Bye for now.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

My Liebster Award Nomination

Well, this is nice.

I have been nominated for The Liebster Award by fellow blogger, MagnumOpus. Thank you so much for nominating me, Magnum. It’s really flattering.

Magnum has a wonderful blog called – appropriately enough – MagnumOpus. It’s quite an endearing motivational blog, all about spreading positivity. To quote the About page, Magnum describes herself as: “An optimistic person who sees the bright side of every situation and every person”.

Click on this link to check out her blog: https://magnumopusforyouu.wordpress.com/

I have had some really nice interactions with some other bloggers on WordPress and there are some very talented people on this platform, so it’ll be a pleasure to put forward some nominations of my own.

Here are the rules for The Liebster Award:

  1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions asked.
  3. Nominate no more than 11 other bloggers for the award.
  4. Pose 11 questions for them.

(So do you see how it works? It’s essentially very similar to a chain e-mail, passed from blogger to blogger – the only real difference being that it’s actually quite a nice thing rather than an annoyance. Oh and by the way, it’s apparently okay for a blogger to be nominated by different people a number of times… there’s no rule against it)

Anyway, without further ado…


Questions from MagnumOpus:

  1. 1. What was your dream as a child and did you achieve it?

My ambition as a child was to be a great artist, to draw comic strips and to be famous for it. As for whether I achieved this… well, as for being a great artist, the answer to that is “I’m still working on it”… the answer to the second part is “yup, I first got published in Spit! comic back in the nineties” (see below for the concept design for one of the characters that I drew for that magazine)… and, lastly, as for the part about being famous – well, not really; even though there is a cult fanbase for those old comic books my name is not really well known… in fact, it’s only recently that fans of this stuff have been searching me out and saying “Are you the guy who drew this?”.

Original concept sketch for Sefton Ward: Paranormal Detective, a comic strip that I wrote and drew for Spit! comic back in the 90s [interesting fact: my old college friend, the 2000AD comic book illustrator Lee Carter (of Indigo Prime fame) owns this original drawing and has it on display in his home]
  1. 2. If you were given 3 wishes , what would you ask for?

I only have one wish: to be given a time machine… something which I’d use, firstly, in order to go back in time and stop my mum from being murdered and, secondly, which I’d use to go back in time to give my younger, stupider self a much-needed slap around the head.

Oh and if there was some way that I could engineer it, I’d like to make a life sentence in the UK actually mean life… not sure how I could use a time machine to do that, though.

  1. 3. What inspired you to start a blog?

I felt that I had a story to tell and, given my one man war against the tyranny of brevity (haha!), I thought that WordPress would be a good fit for my hyper-verbosity!

…And at the risk of sounding like a wannabe do-gooder, I also felt that some people could perhaps relate to some of the hardships I’ve endured during my life and could take some inspiration from some of the solutions that I’ve found – such as, for example, the story of how I recovered from alcoholism thanks to The Sinclair Method (see the podcast below – I’m the guy in the T-shirt on the right).

  1. 4. What is your biggest fear and what are you doing to overcome it?

Ooh! Good question. My reflexive response was to write “fear of failure”, but after a bit of thought I have to say that the thing which I fear most is being written off – that’s the thing that keeps me awake at night.

You see, here’s the thing about me… thanks to a combination of alcoholism and bipolar disorder that hijacked my life for the better part of two decades I managed to either miss out on or squander a lot of opportunities (on both a personal and professional level). And despite being as bright and as creative as I am, the fact of the matter is that what most employers want more than anything (more than even skill) is reliability – something which I just couldn’t give for many years and which would render me both unemployed and unemployable for a long time, unfortunately.

Now that I’m sober and that my mental health has drastically improved what I’m very much trying to do is to redeem and rebuild myself… though it’s not easy – I’ve left quite an unfortunate legacy thanks to my years in the wilderness (…oh and thanks to behaving like a horse’s ass).

So what am I doing about it? Well, I’m trying to set achievable goals and I’m trying to become the best possible version of myself – “creating some good karma”, in other words.

  1. 5. What is that 1 book that changed your life (you can also mention an incident if not a book)?

The Cure for Alcoholism by Roy Eskapa. The quintessential text book for The Sinclair Method, this book saved my life and released me from a near twenty year struggle with alcoholism.

  1. 6. Who is your favourite blogger in the WordPress community?

I like the work of a number of bloggers and I follow a number of blogs in my WordPress Reader, but if I’m absolutely forced to single out one person it has to be my friend Michael Dempsey of Recovering from Recovery because I think that out of all of the addiction treatment themed blogs out there (and there’s a plethora of them) his is one of the most balanced.

Click this URL to check out Michael’s blog: https://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/

  1. 7. Which is your favourite fictional character and why is he/she your favourite?

Patrick Jane (as played by Simon Baker) from The Mentalist.

Why? Well, because here is a character who is so inspiring because he is someone who has endured a devastating traumatic bereavement – the murder of his wife and daughter – but who courageously chooses light over darkness… there’s no self-pity and no brooding with Patrick Jane – he instead presents a defiant joie de vivre to the world… 

…And I find this quite inspiring because I know that this is how my mum would want me to live my life.

  1. 8. Which Superhero would you like to get if you could have a superpower?

This dude:

Art by Tony Daniels

Because I want Bruce Wayne’s superpower of being richer than anyone else! Haha!

Seriously though, what makes Bruce Wayne so special is that unlike other superheroes he doesn’t have any superpowers to fall back on and yet he’s still able to kick the ass of just about everyone in the DC Comics Universe thanks to his mastery of numerous physical and mental disciplines… and it’s this unstoppable, indomitable will that I admire so much – that IS his real superpower and something that distinguishes him from the likes of Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man) from the Marvel Universe (and another playboy billionaire), who – let’s face it – is a push-over without his suit of armour.

The same cannot be said for Bruce Wayne at all… a true renaissance man who, as well as having an IQ somewhere in the stratosphere and being the world’s greatest detective, is an expert in just about every form of combat in existence and can bench press 800 lbs.

Well, that’s all I have to say, really. I rest my case. The only other thing that I could possibly add is that Batman simply looks cool – and there are millions of little kids on the planet who love dressing up as Batman who agree with me on that score.

  1. 9. Which pet do you like more, cat or dog? What is it about them that you like the most?

Oh I’m fond of both species and spend more time than I really should watching cute pet videos of both dogs and cats on Facebook.

But I would say that cats get the win just because their emotional colour-blindedness is so endearing. Haha.

Aaaw bless… they really are something else. And they remind me of children on the autistic spectrum in the curious way how they’ll give affection, but don’t know how to reciprocate it many a time. They’ll just look at you blankly.

They’re quite misunderstood, I think. Some people misinterpret the lack of reciprocation as coldness, but they just don’t get cats in my view. 

  1. 10. If you could have a talk over a cup of coffee with any person dead or alive, who would that be and why?

Easy: I’d pick my mum. I don’t think that I really need to go into why…

  1. 11. If you could have a day celebrated on your birthday, what day would that be and why?

“Pariah’s Day” maybe? A day that celebrates the outcasts and the misfits. A day that celebrates eccentricity and individualism, in other words.

Why? Well, because I’ve always been someone who’s never quite fitted in… I’ve never had a “tribe”… but I don’t see this as a weakness at all. Quite the opposite – I see myself very much as a free-thinker, not constrained by consensus opinion on any topics and someone who thinks outside of the box. 


  1. My nominees are:

Michael Dempsey

Beckie’s Mental Mess

Barbara from myaphorisms.com

Jon Stewart

Stephen from A Fractured Faith

…And my questions are:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. Which person (alive or dead) has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
  3. What is one fact about yourself that most people don’t know?
  4. Have you met anybody famous and – if yes – what were they like?
  5. What’s your “TV kryptonite”? Which TV programme would make you want to kick the TV screen in if you were forced to watch it?
  6. What’s your favourite book?
  7. Where do you stand on the “nature vs. nurture” debate when it comes things like addiction, mental illness and crime?
  8. Name a pop song that you enjoy listening to but would feel really embarrassed to admit to liking to most people.
  9. Should there be a “Blogger’s Code of Ethics” or do you believe in complete freedom of speech on the internet?
  10. If you had a time machine what would be the first thing you would do with it? And why?
  11.  What would you like inscribed on your headstone after you’re dead?

“I (Still) Worship His Shadow”: Reminiscing about Lexx

Hi everyone. So, since the beginning of this year I’ve been binge-watching some TV, watching the 4th season of Black Mirror – which was very good – and watching some Netflix documentaries on weightlifting (as any regular followers of my blog know, powerlifting is a hobby of mine).

But what I’m particularly enjoying at the moment is watching old episodes of Lexx on Amazon Prime.

A little bit of background: Lexx was a science fiction show that was a Canadian/German co-production that ran between 1996 and 2002 and used to have a late night spot here on Channel 5 in the UK… this was back when I was really struggling with bipolar disorder and alcoholism… and though I distinctly remember discounting it as bat-shit weird (later commenting to a friend that upon watching it I “wanted to kick my TV screen in”), I became oddly hooked after seeing only a couple of episodes and would in fact later seek out episodes that I’d missed on DVD in order to better make sense of the narrative and the overall mythology of the show.

As for the narrative… oh man… describing it to someone who’s never seen the show is almost painful, but here goes: it’s all about a misfit crew of individuals (a cowardly low-class security worker, an undead assassin, a nymphomaniac lizard/human hybrid and a disembodied robot head) who commandeer a Manhattan-sized living spaceship called “The Lexx” which looks like a gigantic steampunk dragonfly in order to escape the oppression of their own universe (the Light Universe) by travelling into a fractal core that gives them access to a parallel universe, which – appropriately enough – is called “the Dark Zone”.

Each week our “heroes” (and, believe me, such a word is hard to use to appropriately describe our protagonists in this case… as I’ll explain later) would get into some sort of scrape visiting a planet in the Dark Zone for whatever reason… usually ending with the Lexx blowing up said planet… and that was pretty much the formula of each episode (at least until season 3).

Here’s a season 1 trailer from YouTube:

So why did it leave such a profound impression upon me?

…Well, because it was completely and utterly unlike any TV show I’d ever seen up to that point.

People make comparisons to Farscape, but if I am truthful I never really watched that show… I think I only ever caught one or two episodes of it, but from what I saw I can tell you that Lexx is a different beast entirely… one that wears its influences on its sleeve (like, for example, the aesthetic of H.R. Giger and the humour of British sci-fi comedy show Red Dwarf) but which is nonetheless completely unique and, it has to be said, really quite adult in comparison to many other sci-fi shows of its time – put it this way: given the violence and servings of occasional female nudity, it had its late night TV spot for good reason.

But, watching it now, do you know what really blows me away about the show? THAT Marty Simon soundtrack – giving the show arguably one of the most striking sci-fi themes ever.

I mean, you listen to it and you have to go: “What the fuck is that?!??”.

Another thing that’s quite refreshing about Lexx – and quite amusing – is its contempt for alpha males… you see, heroic Captain Kirk types don’t survive for very long at all in the Lexx universe(s). In fact, they usually get cut down quite abruptly. Case in point: the Barry Bostwick character in the very first episode.

The only character amongst the Lexx crew who might conceivably fit the alpha male mould is the assassin-come-renegade Kai (who is essentially a zombified killing machine who had his emotions surgically removed from his brain), but aside from possessing the remnants of a sense of a justice he doesn’t really possess any altruistic drive whatsoever and is much more likely to apathetically say something like “I am not motivated to do that” in response to any given situation that calls for heroism than to want to get involved at all; it’s instead usually only as a result of coaxing from others that he takes any action in any conflict.

Instead, as the episodes progressed, what began to happen is that I started to in fact identify with the Stanley Tweedle character… someone who, on the face of it, is a deeply unlikable character – a lust-driven, treacherous coward.

Why? Because for me he’s arguably the only sane character… and, as I got further into the show, I would think “Yeah, he’s right: leave the ‘hero business’ to other people”. But what’s so great about the character, looking at it now, is Brian Downey’s wonderful performance… here’s a character that you could absolutely end up hating with a passion, but Downey gives him real humanity and as the story unfolds there is a redemption of sorts, because you see that he isn’t really such a bad guy – just someone who’s had to make some impossible choices in order to survive a nightmare existence.

Anyway, aside from some minor quibbles… such as the low budget of the show being quite telling in some episodes (e.g. some dodgy matte paintings and some now very dated looking CGI), it still holds up rather well; it’s just a shame that Amazon is only showing the first three seasons – the completist in me is quite disappointed by this.

On a personal note, I have such fond memories of this show because it offered a bit of welcome escapism from what was a nightmare existence of my own at that time… so it’s an interesting experience to watch this show decades later, being now both sober and healthy.

Okay, well that’s my slice of nostalgia for the day.

Thanks for reading.

 

Peace and love,

GARY

 

 

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

 

 

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!

Adventures in The Big Smoke: Day 1

London Docklands skyline at twilight

6:20 a.m. Thursday 7th December 2017

The phone rings, waking me up suddenly.

“Did you order a taxi?”, said the voice on the other end of the line.

I groggily confirmed that I had indeed ordered a taxi the day before, shitting myself at the sudden realisation that I’d slept in.

“Well, we just buzzed your property and someone said that they hadn’t ordered a taxi”.

Then a pause.

“Okay, we’ll sort it; we’ll send another driver out”.

And that’s how this trip to London almost never began before it even started, dear reader.

Cut to:

10:30 a.m. (ish)

…And I’m standing in King’s Cross Square filming this on my Samsung phone:

 

[wpvideo EBGNCgLt]

Hehe.

Actually, upon walking around the sculpture, I don’t think it’s a cock at all… it has a nipple thing going on if anything.

Whatever. In any case, I’m pleased that I’ve got there okay after the three hour train ride and I text my friend the fellow blogger Michael Dempsey (of Recovering from Recovery fame).

I like London – so different to the goldfish bowl that is Hartlepool where everything and everyone seems to move so slooowly; now this is more my speed.

Amusingly, a chav accuses me of being a homeless person as he and his dickhead friends walk past.

Crikey, I knew that I was a bit unkempt that morning, but come on! Haha.


…As for the rest of the day, it’s a bit of a blur after I meet up with Michael. Tiredness started to set in quite badly by mid afternoon. But, as ever, it’s great to see Michael and catch up.

We have a walk around central London for a bit and the tour helps give me an idea of where I need to be for the special service commemorating victims of murder on Saturday.

A good day overall, despite the poor start.

Tomorrow/today I intend to get along to the National Portrait Gallery and visit an AA meeting – just because I’ve never attended a meeting in the capital and I have a feeling that it might be quite fun. Besides, it’s about time I claimed my chips.

Hey, why not?

 

The day closes with fish and chips and then coffee back at Mike’s place. Overall, it’s been a fun day spent in good company, but I am a little whacked. Time to retire.

And with that, I bid you adieu for now dear reader.

 

 

Zen, art & recovery: How I “sculpt” my blog

A Xena/Red Sonja homage that I’m doing as a present for my friend Edie:

…Still needs a lot of work doing to it; there are also certain aspects that need to be fixed – such as the fact that I seem to have given Edie Bell’s palsey! haha – but it’s getting there.

It’s nice to be back into a little bit of drawing.

My approach with drawing these days is to just say “fuck it and do it”. I used to be such a perfectionist; a complete detail-nazi, taking foreeeever on things – either that or saying “I’ll finish it once I have more inspiration” – but, having learned that procrastination is the enemy of success, I now consciously just throw myself into it and say perfection be damned.

What I guess I’m trying to say is that when it comes to drawing your own critical faculties can be your worst enemy sometimes… hence why I guess I’m more zen when it comes to my art nowadays.

Interestingly enough, my approach to writing my blog is similar. I scribble down a “thumbnail” of sorts (usually a bullet list which acts as a rough sketch) and then I sculpt paragraphs on WordPress, typing away like a madman. My approach is one of “more is better” to begin with (ha! I declare war on brevity!) and then, upon seeing the completed shape, I use my delete/backspace keys much like an eraser or a a palette knife or a chisel to give it a better crafted, prettier shape.

Sounds odd when explained like that, I know – but that’s my process.

As I mentioned in a previous article, I’m going to also have a crack at doing a Krampus-themed piece of art before Christmas (as much as anything because I think it could cool to have my own custom-designed Krampuskarten as a new Facebook cover).

It depends upon how much time I have after my upcoming trip to London.

But given that I’m going to cannibalise the composition of an old piece of artwork (see below), it probably won’t take too long.

An old design that I did for an evil tooth fairy. Since I’m not above referencing my own work, I’m going to rip off the composition for this for my own Krampuskarten design.

Barbara’s Elegant Aphorisms Website

From the Oxford Online dictionary:

aphorism

NOUN

 1. A pithy observation which contains a general truth.
‘the old aphorism ‘the child is father to the man’’
[mass noun]‘the debate begins and ends at the level of aphorism, with commentators saying that something must be done’
1.1 A concise statement of a scientific principle, typically by a classical author.
‘the opening sentence of the first aphorism of Hippocrates’
Origin
Early 16th century: from French aphorisme or late Latin aphorismus, from Greek aphorismos ‘definition’, from aphorizein ‘define’.

…So, for the benefit of any readers unfamiliar with what an aphorism is, there you go. I point it out because I recently became acquainted with a WordPress blog that has a really neat concept – a blog called myaphorisms.com.

It’s a great idea: what the author of this blog does is pen an aphorism a day… which sounds so simple, right? But that’s exactly the point… the genius of it, i think, lies in the simplicity of its design and execution. It’s actually a really smart idea for the format of a blog; I really dig it.

And what I like about Barbara’s blog is the way how she interacts with people in the comments section… in fact, that’s where the main action takes place, you could say.

Another thing that’s quite cool about it is the fact that the purpose-built brevity of the format she’s chosen would feed really well into Twitter and Facebook.

What can I say? I like it! It really appeals to my sense of design.

Something like this would work quite well done around a recovery theme, actually – an AA aphorism a day, for example.


…Which neatly leads onto my next subject:

The Welcome Return of Nicky Katz

Click on image to open link in a new tab

After an absence of some time and some hardship, is really nice to see my old friend Nicky Katz back on the horse with the social media scene, rebooting his Facebook and Twitter presence.

What can I say? He’s been missed. My hope is that he’ll also get back into the swing with his blog too… just because I was always a big fan of his website and I miss seeing his articles. Check out Nicky’s blog here: http://nickykatz.org/

Note to self: I really need to give Nicky a guest writer spot on The Free Pigeon Press because I’m fascinated with how he’s combining The Sinclair Method with Alcoholics Anonymous meetings – how he’s reconciling the two (a subject that I wrote a piece about HERE).

As much as anything I think that it’s important that Nicky does write because so many people can learn from his experiences – and yes – his own admitted mistakes too.

But the measure of a man is how he deals with adversity, not success – so I for one am grateful that he’s back.


…Okaaay, well I’m about done for this article, but before I go I’ll leave you with a couple of words of worldly wisdom from my favourite demented, scat-fixated octogenarian AA super-sponsor and wiener pioneer, the legend that is Morris Rosenbaum-Benda:

Hahahahaha. Love it.

I think this is better, though, just for sheer brevity (an art I’ve never mastered):

(!)

Hahaha!


…And on that note:

Peace and love,

GARY