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:

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:

  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

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?

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,




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:



 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’
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

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:

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):



…And on that note:

Peace and love,





My 2018 New Year resolutions: “Plans, plans, plans… so many lovely plans”

It’s been quite an eventful year, what with the trial and my home move and my bipolar disorder playing up again (causing me to have to be hospitalised for six weeks during the summer).

What can I say? It’s been a struggle at times.

The trial, in particular, was an absolute nightmare to endure. Though I am satisfied with the resolution of that – the evil streak of piss got a sentence of 33 yearsit was absolutely harrowing to go through; no wonder I lost it months later.

I still find it hard to talk about. So do other members of my family.

But life goes on. Rather than dwelling on grief and letting anger consume me, Mum would want me to make something of my life and in order to honour her memory that’s what I intend to do – to be the good man that she always wanted me to be.

Cruelly taken, but never forgotten: my beautiful mam

“Plans, plans, plans… so many lovely plans”

One of the first things I’m going to do is get back into my training in a big way in the new year. That and the jiu-jitsu classes.

I’m also going to buy a mountain bike to help myself get fit.

As many people know, I’ve already undergone quite a big physical transformation since quitting drinking (thanks to The Sinclair Method).

But what I really want to do is challenge myself with the powerlifting even further and get stronger than I’ve ever got.

My transformation photo. The photo on the left is a picture of me in September 2014 (just over a year after I’d quit drinking thanks to The Sinclair Method) and the picture on the right is how I look now. I’ve lost something like 50lbs in body weight. Not bad going considering that – at the grand old age of 45 – it doesn’t get any easier to get back into shape.

My new goal with the training is to get up to a bench press of over 130kg, a deadlift of 200kg and a squat around 160kg by this time next year – something that I think is achievable because, although my attendance in the gym has been a bit hit and miss this year (for entirely understandable reasons), I’m already pressing well over 100kg and can currently easily squat over 120kg. My only achilles heel is my deadlift… my current one rep maximum is 150kg, but for my build I should really be able to lift much more.

Diet is the key, I think. That and challenging myself cardiovascularly in order to improve my rep range and get my body fat percentage down even further than it is now. Something that my trainer is already helping me out with with a new “fat-burner” training program that he’s given me.

As for other goals: I think that I want to make a much bigger splash with my social media work and my art in 2018.

It’s taken a while with the blog (and what’s not helped is that I had to go into a form of self-imposed exile and make my blog private whilst everything was going on with the trial in order to avoid unwanted press exposure), but now that I’m back the stats are slowly but surely getting up there and I’m starting to see results by cross-pollinating with things like YouTube, Facebook and Quora. The only thing which I don’t have is a Twitter account. But once the book gets released (Claudia thinks it’s going to be around spring next year) I’ll definitely push things further, I think.

Despite my love/hate relationship with Quora, I actually do quite well on there (becoming one of the most popular writers in the addiction section on there, believe it or not) and my pieces have recently hit the 7,500 views landmark.

The real trick, I think, is to just enjoy what you’re doing.

I always find that when I just let go,be less self-conscious and less concerned about things like stats it makes me a far better writer.

A good example of this is the fact that I seem to inject a lot more humour into my blog than I used to.

Talking of which…

…I’m definitely going to do a lot more cartoons in 2018.

People keep asking me why I haven’t done more art and the fact is, as I said before, this year has just been crazy. My head’s just been too fucked up to concentrate on more than one thing at a time.

But yeah, now that I’m getting nicely settled into my new place and I’m finally getting some calmness back into my life I want to do some more stuff. Perhaps experimenting with Adobe Photoshop by doing some painted versions of some of my pencil drawings from the last year (scroll below)


…Actually, taking inspiration from the “anti-Christmas” theme of my last article (see HERE), I’m thinking that one idea might be to have a crack at designing a Krampus-themed Christmas card.

That would be quite a fun little art project to get in before Christmas, I think, and would quite appeal to my transgressive, Chuck Palahniuk-esque tendencies.

Anyhoo… that just about covers what I want to do in the New Year.

But what about you, dear reader? What resolutions do you have for 2018?



My latest masterpiece – a caricature of Beano cartoonist Gary Whitlock

(The notion of doing Gary as Desperate Dan was originally mooted, but I ultimately decided to go for Dennis the Menace, given the fact that there’d be much more immediately recognisability)

It’s been an interesting couple couple of weeks. Since finishing off the last couple of caricatures of some of my fellow volunteers from The Artrium gallery in Hartlepool (see HERE to have a look at those), I’ve just put down the pencil after completing this one – a caricature of my friend  Beano illustrator Gary Whitlock.

And… I think it’s okay (as far as these things go)… a little overcrowded, perhaps – but yeah, it’ll do.

About t’other Gary: he’s a really cool guy; just a terrific artist… and (given that he’s been in the comics biz since the late 80s) an old hand at this whole cartooning thing.


Please do check out his work here: