Tag Archives: London

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 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:

 

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.