Part 4 The true story behind ‘Gambling Broke Us’

Barry’s addiction was so severe that he would gamble every last penny of his wages. It was the equivalent of crack cocaine addiction in its severity. Rent often didn’t get paid, electricity and council tax bills were owing. At times he had no money for food. His life was a mess, but all I saw was a genuinely lovely guy. I wanted him to get better. I never once bailed him out. I didn’t want to be the latest in a long line of girlfriends who’d bailed him out, feeding his addiction with handouts. Giving money to a gambler is like giving an alcoholic a bottle of whisky. It wasn’t the solution.

Sadly he continued to gamble despite making himself poorer and the situation was getting worse. It was very much an on-off relationship throughout this time with longer and longer gaps because he didn’t stop gambling. Unable to pay his rent and with debts mounting he panicked and asked me if he could come to stay when he was evicted in March. ‘Prove you can stop,’ I told him. ‘If you pay the next two amounts of rents you owe you can come and I’ll help you get over the addiction.’ I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I’d promised. When he gambled again  I was secretly relieved. There was no way I could take on his problems. I didn’t have the emotional strength for it. He needed professional help.

I kept a distance after that, there was nothing more I could do. The date of his eviction came but we were still in contact despite my resolve to move on from him. I asked him several times that day, ‘what the hell are you going to do?’ He seemed so calm, his usual cheerful self but I was worried. ‘I haven’t made any decisions yet.’ Talk about laid back. He was horizontal.

I told a couple of friends about his eviction and they said, ‘leave him to it. Nothing more you can do. You don’t need his problems. You can do better than that. Plenty more men out there. He’s only got himself to blame.’ In the evening I asked him again where he was staying and he still didn’t know. He was borrowing a van from a friend and I guessed he was planning to sleep in the back of the van but I didn’t ask him. On a whim, without really thinking of the consequences I suggested he come to stay with me for the night so that he could work something out in the morning.

An hour later he arrived and opening my door I found myself staring at a living corpse. He’d lost so much weight. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of months. His face and neck were thin and hugging him it was clear the weight had dropped from his shoulders and waist.

The following day he announced that he wasn’t going into work. He wasn’t up to it. ‘I’m in no fit state to work today. And I need to find somewhere to live.’

I panicked. Childless for the week I’d set it aside to get on with some writing and was looking forward to peace and my space. He’d lose his job, sit around my house for weeks acting like a slob while I worked out a way to get rid of him.

‘If you’re staying here for a few days,’ I told him, ‘you need to work. And you won’t find a room unless you keep earning. Why don’t you try and get a transfer up this way, just till you’ve got enough money for a deposit and first month’s rent.’

He organised a transfer and I started taking him into work each day, horribly early, a 20-minute journey away.

‘And I’m going to lay down some ground rules. No gambling. I may have tolerated it while we were dating but I don’t want it going on under my roof. Sorry to be brutal but if you gamble, you’re out. And I want you to transfer all your wages to me next time you get paid, to stop you gambling. I’ll help you save. We can do this.’

I had to be brutal and uncompromising. There was no other way and I’d had enough of excuses why he couldn’t quit and at the end of the day it was up to him. If he wanted to enough then I figured he would. To begin with we aimed to get enough money put by for rent but as the weeks went by both of us knew, without really talking about it that we liked living together. He is easy to live with, calm, relaxing, always cheerful – the first time I’ve truly felt contented, which is bizarre given his circumstances. Once the target was reached there were other things he needed to save for before finally tackling the mountain of debts that was causing him so much aggravation and stress leading him into the betting shop to sort the mess, time and again. The cycle had to be broken and being away from the stress was helping him to stop.

It may not last between us, nothing is guaranteed in this life, particularly where relationships are concerned, but nothing lost is nothing gained. If we always walk away from tough relationships we’ll never experience what true love is. Two people working to overcome difficulties is better than one person sinking alone. At least if it doesn’t work there’s a book out there, ‘Gambling Broke Us’ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gambling-Broke-Us-moving-family-ebook/dp/B07NDY1M4R/  a stark reminder of some of the struggles he faced and many indeed face up and down the country; a prompt to politicians that something needs to be done to tackle this growing epidemic.

Thank you for reading my 4 part blog about the inspiration behind my new book ‘Gambling Broke Us’ which I hope you’ll enjoy. It’s just £1.99 on kindle or free on Kindle Unlimited.

And if you are affected by gambling you may find these links helpful:

https://www.gamblingtherapy.org/en

https://www.begambleaware.org/gambling-problems/do-i-have-a-gambling-problem/

 

Part 2 of Joanna’s candid blog about the true story behind ‘Gambling Broke Us.’

The day after our first date I suggested to him that it would be a nice idea to write about our first date. He enjoys creative writing too and liked the idea.

‘Neither of us know if this will go anywhere but what if we each write our version of the day.’ My favourite novel, ‘Us’ by David Nicholls is written is from the woman’s viewpoint, then the man’s viewpoint in interchangeable chapters on each event that happens and my first two novels are written in this way.

When you date somebody it’s hard to remember how you felt on that first date; what captured you about that person, all of the intangible things that make you attracted to them and the hazy fog of relationships when things turn sour. We soon forget how we felt in those early days. Weeks later we exchanged our pieces of writing and I used them in writing ‘Gambling Broke Us.’ Comparing our accounts I was surprised to learn that both of us felt a strong spark when we were sitting in the pub in The Meads and that elusive chemistry you can’t define.

We met on the pier in Hastings on our second date and as soon as I saw him my heart fluttered. He took my arm and we strolled along the pier, recently renovated after a fire. When I was a teenager my parents took us to Hastings most weekends. My dad took black and white photos of buildings and people in the Old Town. He became a very successful amateur photographer winning competitions across the country and giving speeches on his work. my mum was an artist and painted in oils, beach scenes with old boats and the black smoking sheds, iconic to Hastings. To can see some of her paintings on my funeral celebrant website at https://beautifulfuneralsussexkent.co.uk   

Hastings holds a special fondness for me and hasn’t changed much in years. Looking out to sea from the pier with Barry we shared our memories of the town.

We both love live music and he suggested meeting in Hastings to see a local Brit-pop band who write all their own music, Alibi, at The Palace. Hastings has a vibrant music scene and this was to be the first of several dates to hear live gigs. We both loved Alibi and sat on a grubby settee at the back of the grungily dressed crowd snogging our faces off.

Shortly after the second date I logged into my Facebook account and saw that Barry had been through my photos, liking posts going back years. I was flattered that he was taking an interest in my life, wanting to get to know me, but part of me thought, well blow you, two of us can play that game. So I scrolled through endless photos of football matches and screenshots of inspirational quotes. There were no holiday snaps, no days. He was either a very private person or he led a dull life. Bored with so much about football, about to give up and return to the newsfeed, something caught my eye. I stopped in my tracks and froze, heart thudding in my chest.

Go to part 3:

https://joannawarringtonauthor-allthingsd.co.uk/writing/part-3-of-true-story-behind-new-book-gambling-broke-us/

Link to my new book ‘Gambling Broke Us’:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gambling-Broke-Us-moving-family-ebook/dp/B07NDY1M4R/

If you are affected by gambling you may find the following links helpful:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/drug-addiction-getting-help/

https://www.begambleaware.org/gambling-problems/do-i-have-a-gambling-problem/

 

Part 3 of true story behind new book ‘Gambling Broke Us’

I waited until the end of our third date to ask him about the post I’d seen on Facebook. The third date, in Lewes was going so well I didn’t want to spoil it. We had a few drinks and a meal I paid for with Tesco vouchers, again sensing he had money problems and by now guessing that he was unemployed. I wanted to make things easier for him.

Sipping our last drink, at The White Hart I finally plucked up the courage. This wasn’t something I could ignore, I had to know the truth.

‘I saw something on your Facebook. Do you have a problem I should know about?’

‘Yes, I’m a compulsive gambler,’ came his upfront reply without the briefest of pauses, as if glad to get it out of the way.

I didn’t want this to be our last date and wanted to hear that he was dealing with his addiction and that it was behind him.

‘You should probably walk away,’ he said, matter of factly.

‘Why didn’t you tell me before? Were you even going to tell me? How long did you think you could keep that to yourself?’ I felt so let down, conned even.

‘We were getting on so well, it never seemed to be the right time, but I was going to.’

‘How serious is it?’

‘I haven’t gambled since August,’ he lied.

I should have walked away at that point but he led me to believe that he was controlling it and I had strong feelings for him and wanted to help him. The more he talked an idea hatched in my mind for a next novel. I didn’t know anything about gambling addiction and was intrigued to find out more. A niggling worry entered my mind. I knew that I would never be able to trust him. What if he stole money from my bag? Or worse, stole my details and applied for a credit card? But as time went on and I learned more about gambling addiction I realised that you can’t label all gamblers as thieves. Each person is an individual with their own unique story and their own morals. There’s a lot of fear and scaremongering surrounding gambling addiction – most gamblers are perfectly safe around other peoples’ money.

It wasn’t easy dating a gambler though, I’ll admit that, as you will find out in ‘Gambling Broke Us.’ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gambling-Broke-Us-moving-family-ebook/dp/B07NDY1M4R/  But at the back of my mind just live for the moment, enjoy his company, but move on one day when you get fed up with it. I accepted that I’d be footing the bill when we went out, but that was fine, I didn’t mind, we just wouldn’t spend very much and would avoid expensive dates. At the end of the day I was never going to live with this guy. How could I? I wouldn’t be able to trust him and what sort of start would that be? He’d sink me if I let him.

Thank you for reading!

Go to Part 4 of blog:

https://joannawarringtonauthor-allthingsd.co.uk/writing/part-4-the-true-story-behind-gambling-broke-us/

Link to ‘Gambling Broke Us’

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gambling-Broke-Us-moving-family-ebook/dp/B07NDY1M4R/

If you are affected by gambling you may find the following links helpful:

https://www.begambleaware.org/gambling-problems/do-i-have-a-gambling-problem/

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/gambling-addiction/

 

 

 

Author of new book ‘Gambling Broke Us’ makes a surprising confession

When I met a guy online, arranging to meet on Eastbourne seafront one sunny Saturday a couple of years ago, little did I know that he would be the inspiration for my next novel. He was a web designer, at least that’s what it said on his profile. But in the coming weeks ahead the persona of successful businessman and entrepreneur was shattered, as I began to find out, little by little about the shadier side to his life and as the weeks went by I knew that the destructive side to his life had to be told. It was a story of great interest.

Reading my Kindle on a bench overlooking the sea his shadow stepped in front of me blocking the sun. They say that you make up your mind about someone in the first few minutes of meeting and that was certainly the case with Barry. He was slim, good looking with a warm, friendly smile and instantly likeable. As we strolled towards the cafe the conversation felt relaxed and unlike so many men I’ve met, he wasn’t bombarding me with his own life, wasn’t an arrogant bragging type, but instead asked lots of questions and seemed genuinely interested in my life. Later on, I realised why this was. He was trying to deflect from his own life. He didn’t want to scare me off. The thread between us, in those early days, was as fragile as a spider’s web.

Slipping into easy chat we walked along the seafront towards the next cafe where we had a cheese toastie. The seafront was a riot of bloated seagulls screeching around our table, children on scooters whizzing past, everybody sunning themselves before autumn set in. I often wonder, if the weather had been terrible that day would we have met at all?

The hours flew by. We talked about anything and everything. Passing a stand along the shopping parade a salesman stepped out in front of Barry. I don’t know what he was selling but Barry waved him away with a laugh, ‘sorry mate, I’ve got zero credit rating.’ I thought he was joking to get rid of the salesman so I asked what he meant and found out that he’d been made bankrupt several years ago. I won’t go into why he was made bankrupt, those details will remain private, but I remember feeling very shocked and this was my first alarm bell of the day. Being made bankrupt suggested to me a level of recklessness, poor planning, someone who can’t handle their accounts or make proper business decisions. I’ve always been careful with money, I’m risk averse and being with someone like this long term wouldn’t be for me. In fact, I found the idea scary. If they could sink themselves, they’d sink me with them. But the sun and the sea and the salient conversation kissed my concerns away. I asked him lots of questions about what had happened and why he’d been made bankrupt and piecing things together it made some sense to me. The events in his life at that time were desperately sad and gave me some understanding of why it had happened.

From that point on I had the impression that he was struggling for money, or still recovering from the bankruptcy so I offered to pay for lunch. When he didn’t protest I knew my suspicions were correct. He didn’t tell me that he was broke, he didn’t need to, I just knew that he was. But I was warming to him and that wasn’t going to put me off.

It was past eleven when we left the cosy pub nestled in the Meads village and began the walk down the hill towards my car. My hand slipped into his and I knew we’d meet again. In my head, I was planning to cancel a weekend away with a friend the following weekend. It’s important to keep the momentum going when you first meet someone and clear your diary. We stopped to look at the full moon making a milky pathway across the inky sea through the evergreens. This part of Eastbourne is so beautiful and it was a perfect evening. It was a romantic moment but we didn’t kiss. Weeks later we both said we’d wanted to but kissing wasn’t for first dates.

Our first date is in ‘Gambling Broke Us.’ It was the best first date I’ve ever had.

Thank you for reading part 1 of this 4 part blog about Barry and me, the inspiration for the book. You can read the novel FREE on Kindle Unlimited or it’s £1.99 on Amazon and also in paperback on Amazon.

This is a 4 part blog. Here is the link to part 2:

https://joannawarringtonauthor-allthingsd.co.uk/writing/part-2-of-joannas-candid-blog-about-the-true-story-behind-gambling-broke-us/

 

Link to ‘Gambling Broke Us’:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gambling-Broke-Us-moving-family-ebook/dp/B07NDY1M4R/

If you are affected by gambling you may find the following links helpful:

https://www.begambleaware.org/gambling-problems/do-i-have-a-gambling-problem/

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/drug-addiction-getting-help/

The Brexit Betrayal

On the day that we were supposed to leave the EU, they came in their droves from all corners of the country, congregating outside the seat of power that they entrusted their faith in to deliver the wishes of 17.4 million people. They came with their Union Jacks, fluttering in the light breeze, they carried a coffin labeled democracy and the liberty bell tolled.

It didn’t matter who we were, whether we were on the Left or on the Right, we were united in our ambition for a better Britain, a Britain free from the clutches of the EU. We were angry because our ambition has been destroyed by a treacherous government bent on destroying democracy. Our Remain Parliament are not for the people. They have plotted to destroy Brexit. In Mark Francois’ words, ‘what part of no Prime Minister, don’t you understand?’

The crowds were electric. Weaving my way through the crowds I heard all sorts of fiery conversations and rants. Every conversation was emotive although there were plenty simply enjoying a day out in the sun with a picnic. It was clear that we all felt the same. One man pointed his finger at Parliament and shouted, ‘make a decision you idiots.’ Somebody shouted through a loudspeaker, She’s a liar, she told us we were getting out.’ Between gulps of beer a toothless man from Essex shouted, ‘The people with money aren’t interested in the likes of us. Why did they bother to give us a vote?’

‘This is the one time people get off their arses,’ said a Welshman with a dragon tattoed across his fat leg, ‘and they take no notice.’ ‘Remainers are full of shit,’ shouted another man.

The event felt about much more than just Brexit. Our democracy is in trouble. There were ripples of revolutionary rumblings from the crowd. There was revolutionary fever in the air, from the Communists to the Far Right. This was about the ordinary people pitted against the elite, anger that democracy has collapsed. One speaker read Cromwell’s speech so relevant today. In the words of Kate Hoey MP at the event, ‘this evening we celebrate a fight back. ‘We are howling with rage,’ said Clare Fox, ‘we’ve been trampled on as if we do not matter.’ The crowds were dynamic and one woman   shouted towards Parliament, ‘Parliament is a cesspit, not a chamber.’

We have been called all sorts of names as Mark Francois said, from Nazis to vermin. I won’t deny that there weren’t nasty thugs from the Far Right in the crowds. I came across a horrible placard with a caption, ‘Fuck Islam,’ and shouting, ‘we’ll have a fucking Muslim in power soon and they’ll be building mosques everywhere and the call to prayer will blast from Big Ben.’ Thankfully these nasty elements were in the minority but sadly they give us a bad name.

There are lots of remainers, as one speaker said, who respect the outcome of the referendum but thousands who don’t and they are not democrats. They want a second referendum because they are poor losers and think they know best.

May is a traitor but Farage has also betrayed us. He walked away after the Referendum. We needed him to see the process through. I shouted in his direction as he spoke. ‘You fucking walked away. Come back and finish the job.’

Our battle to be heard will go on. We won the referendum. May is a liar, she told us Brexit means Brexit. We should have left today. We will not go away. We will not be slammed down. Our MPs don’t listen to their voters and should be sacked.

A dry holiday to Oman

Back from a Traveleyes holiday to Oman and feeling groggy and disorientated with post-holiday blues I bumped into a friend in the Cafe Nero. ‘Back from your travels then?’ She asked. Reaching for a napkin as I ordered my coffee, she added with a wink, ‘Didn’t get kidnapped then? You don’t half go to some funny places.’ A couple of people in the queue turned to stare at me. From the look on their faces, they could easily be forgiven for thinking I’d been to Caracas or Raqqa rather than to one of the safest countries in the Middle East, where different nationalities live peacefully side by side and religion shapes the daily rhythm of life.

Arriving over an arid, sun-drenched landscape into a very modern and clean airport we were greeted by our friendly Omani tour guide, dressed in a pristine long Persil white tunic, called a dishdasher, sandals and colourful turban, the standard dress of Omani men.

‘What a lovely airport,’ I told him. The floor was polished marble and there were artificial palm trees lining our route to the exit where a couple of workers were watering a living wall, the largest across the Gulf countries growing 13 different plant species and 24,000 different plants. I could see that the guide was proud of the airport. ‘The terminal opened last year. There’s a big push to drive more tourists to Oman, but not on the huge scale of Dubai,’ he chuckled.

Before we left the airport our English guide halted outside the Duty-Free, warning us that this was our last chance to purchase alcohol and that it would be very difficult to find alcoholic drinks in Oman. ‘Does anybody want to buy any before we head off?’ She asked. Weary from our night flight and not quite believing her, there were no takers. One of our travellers had come prepared though, a sneaky bottle of whiskey stowed in his luggage and discovering his secret bottle one day I helped myself to a nip. It felt as if he was carrying contraband goods and I felt like a naughty school girl. ‘If they want to loosen us up,’ he declared, ‘they need to liquor us up.’ And another traveller commented, ‘We won’t be painting the town red, we’ll be painting it beige.’ The lack of alcohol became the butt of jokes over the week but I don’t think anybody really missed it, especially after trying the delicious mint lemon cold drink served at every cafe and restaurant and Arabian coffee (with added cardomon) with dates at every meal, helping us to forget the lack of wine and spirits. It certainly didn’t stop us laughing and having a good time.

I wouldn’t recommend Oman as a destination if you’re somebody that likes to get pissed. And even if you ventured into one of the few 5-star hotels that do serve it, the prices might stop you getting bladdered. And I got the distinct impression that rowdy, drink-fuelled behaviour would be frowned upon. Muscat was a civilised, gentile sort of city, unlike Brighton or Southend on a Saturday night. Maybe I’m getting old and boring but I preferred the quieter, drink free atmosphere of Muscat. You felt much safer.

Thank you for reading and there will be more Oman blogs in the coming days.

 

Why I’m going to Oman and what the country has to offer.

As constitutional lawyers pour over this latest Brexit deal I’ll be joining the Emirates queue at Gatwick. I’m looking forward to jetting off into the sun for a relaxing holiday having just finished my latest novel and before embarking on a sequel to ‘Every Mother’s Fear.’

Except that I don’t do relaxing. For me lying on a beach, staring at the sun, only to breed wrinkles is boring. I can do that in Brighton or Bognor on a sunny summer day. I’m enticed by the lure of adventure and discovery and meeting inspiring people. Last year I went to Cuba with a travel company called Traveleyes and when they posted a holiday to Oman I immediately signed up.  Traveleye tours are a mixture of sighted and blind travellers. The sighted travellers guide and share their holiday experience with their blind companions. It’s a wonderful experience to share your holiday with people with sight problems because we can share our unique experience. They are good at pointing out things I wouldn’t maybe notice like smells and sounds and I describe what I’m looking at.

My destination – Oman wouldn’t be top of the list for most people, particularly because people think it’s a dangerous place to visit, but it’s actually one of the safest Middle Eastern countries, despite its volatile location next to Yemen, embroiled in civil war and there are tensions between Oman and Saudi Arabia. ‘Why are you going there?’ Friends have asked. So I thought I’d write a blog about why I’m going to such an unusual destination.

I love the Middle East and visited Jordan and Dubai several years back and I’m off to Isreal later in the year. I really wanted to visit either Oman or Iran. I love waking up to the haunting call to prayer, its soft melody and the way religion defines the day, as people stop, get out their prayer mats by the roadside, raising their arms to the sky in such a deeply meaningful way. It’s raw, moving and has a profound effect on me spiritually, in a way that church bells don’t. Whatever you think about the politics of Islam they are still praying to the same God. The sound of donkeys braying in the hills is another haunting sound.

Oman is a country of deserts and picturesque villages in the mountains and has a tiny population of just 4 million. Muscat, the capital looks like most peoples’ idea of a modern county, with shopping malls selling consumer goods but outside the towns, the country is steeped in history and the landscape is stunning.  Tradition is woven through every aspect of life in Oman. For instance, it’s not unusual to marry your first cousin and marriage is arranged when a child is born and there’s a strong belief in ‘jinn’ which are evil spirits. Men are known by their first name and the name of their father or their son.

The country had no real infrastructure before 1970 but when the current ruler, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said came to power in 1970, he embarked on modernising the country with a series of reforms and he pumped money into education, health and welfare. The sultan has absolute power and rules by decree. He rules unchallenged, political parties are banned and Sharia Law means that certain crimes are dealt with very harshly. In the extreme, homosexuals can receive the death penalty for instance. I’d better be careful and not do my usual journalist thing of asking locals too many questions and taking risky photographs!

I’m fascinated by Oman’s history. This is the land of the Queen of Sheba, although there’s no hard evidence to support her existence. Since the 1940s Oman’s wealth has grown from its oil reserves but for centuries Oman was important for its frankincense and myrrh. Almost all frankincense comes from Western Oman. Frank means noble. Frankincense is a gum resin that comes from the Boswellia tree and they grow in abundance in certain areas of Oman. They like harsh climates and can even grow out of solid rock. Frankincense was in demand, the world over for religious ceremonies and as an embalming material as well as treating numerous ailments. Omani frankincense was even found in Tutankhamon’s tomb. Camel caravans travelled thousands of miles transporting this valuable commodity.

I’m not particularly into wildlife myself, but for those who do there’s the chance of seeing leopards, hyenas, vultures, turtles, humpback whales and oryx in Oman.

I’ll be back soon with an update on how I get on! Thank you for reading. Here’s a link to a great book I read about Oman: https://www.amazon.co.uk/OMAN-Under-Arabian-Skies-Unabridged-ebook/dp/B007ZT4BQS/

Gambling Recovery Programmes

Gambling Broke Us by Joanna Warrington book coverDating a compulsive gambler I went on to write a novel ‘Gambling Broke Us’ and this drew me to the shocking headlines splashed across British newspapers in recent months–Gambling On The Increase. But what help is out there for recovering gamblers and what is the success rate?

Gambling recovery programmes are woefully lacking and very patchy across the country and shockingly–given that there are well in excess of 400,000 compulsive gamblers in the UK–the NHS has only one specialist gambling clinic, which is in London. Around 15 problem gamblers are referred to the clinic every week, from around the country. The biggest problem is that by the time the clinic sees them they have lost their jobs, homes and relationships. They join a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy programme, talk about their problem and are given strategies to avoid temptation. Six months later about 60% of gamblers have managed to stay away from gambling. If there was a specialist clinic in every town think what progress could be made.

The clinic has been trialing a craving suppressant drug called naltrexone. Maybe this is the way forward but we all know how reluctant the NHS is to take on new drugs, given the cost involved. This drug is seen as a last resort treatment. If the clinic’s trial is successful she wants the NHS to fund a clinical trial.

Is this drug the new breakthrough to tackle this nasty illness that blights so many lives or is the problem much more complex? My gripping new novel “Gambling Broke Us”available on Amazon will give you a good insight into this terrible addiction.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jun/06/gambling-secret-addiction-ruins-lives

Gambling is in the news again

Gambling is in the news again and because I’ve just published a novel about a gambler, I’m interested in what’s going on. From April 1st rules around gambling ads in the UK, including a ban on the use of young celebrities and sports stars, will become stricter, especially online. Gambling operators will also have to ensure that the majority of the audience of any social media influencers they work with are over 18. This is to protect children from irresponsible ads in the light of a recent study suggesting that 450,000 11 to 16-year-olds regularly gamble.

When I told people I was writing a novel about a compulsive gambler reaction was mixed. Most people tutted and said, ‘they only have themselves to blame.’ I found little sympathy for gamblers, most of us can’t understand why somebody would want to pour money down the drain leaving themselves unable to buy food or pay rent. Worse than that were the parents struggling with teenage gamblers. The pain was etched across their faces. These were friends of mine and I had no idea about what they were going through as parents. Flummoxed as to what to do, this made me more determined than ever to bring this problem to the forefront of peoples’ minds through my novel. Most people seem to have an alcoholic in their family or friendship circle, but do you know somebody with a gambling addiction? We all know somebody who likes a flutter, but until a couple of years ago, when I began dating a compulsive gambler, I can honestly say that I had never met a compulsive gambler. Maybe I’ve led a very sheltered life or just mixed in different circles, but it just wasn’t something I’d given much thought to, despite it being all around us. You only have to read about the shutdown of Britain’s racetracks due to equine flu to see the importance of horseracing to the betting industry, because the damage has run into millions. Gambling, whether we like it or not is important to the economy, but sadly it blights lives. But with just one NHS clinic in the UK for problem gambling and an archaic 12 step programme run through Gamblers Anonymous that hasn’t been revised in decades, there’s little hope of us tackling this growing problem any time soon.

I hope that my new novel stirs something inside you. The story is fictional but the addiction is not. The dreadful highs and lows experienced by problem gamblers is based on one man’s tangled and complex emotions, the guy I dated – emotions which are typical of gamblers.

I hope you enjoy my new novel which is on Amazon:

Make Climate Change your New Year’s Resolution

It’s that time of year again. With Christmas out of the way we start to think about how we can change our lives in the year ahead and that involves making a list of resolutions. Somewhere in that list will be a diet plan, but diets are hopeless because we live in the western world where food is sugar and fat rich. There are too many temptations for us to stick to a diet.

Instead of dieting or cutting back on alcohol why not make climate goals your New Year’s Resolution? Climate change is upon us: a huge region of the Antarctic ice cap is breaking apart and melting. The Paris Climate Change talks set goals to limit the world’s temperature but this won’t happen unless we all play a part. Here’s what you can do. Make climate change your New Year’s Resolution!

  1. Stop wasting food. Buy only what you need. Walk to the supermarket if you can. Buy food grown locally when you can. That includes wine!
  2. We are wearing clothes for half the amount of time that we used to a decade ago, according to research quoted on Radio 4. Look through your wardrobe before you buy new clothes. Think twice before you throw clothes away. Mass produced fashion moves so fast these days, that a piece of clothing bought today is discarded several months later. Think before you throw away clothes. Don’t be a sucker for fashion. The fashion industry is a major source of the greenhouse gases – read this article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/45756754
  3. Change your eating habits. Become a vegetarian or at best give up red meat. This is the best thing you can do to help the environment.If you are not convinced, read this article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth
  4. One shower a day is enough. And don’t take so long in the shower! Two minutes is long enough.
  5. Reduce the temperature on your boiler. Wear a jumper inside instead of putting the thermostat up.
  6. Use ecological domestic products. Change your washing powders and washing up liquid to environmentally friendly ones.
  7. Think before you drive. Each journey is bad for the environment. Think before you get in the car. Use the train. Walk to the pub or school. Move to the town so that you don’t need your car. Buy a small car. And please drivers, don’t let your engine run for ages while you defrost the windows. Scrape the windows instead or pour tepid kettle water on the windscreen.
  8. Stop using a tumble dryer. Dry clothes outside. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/2010/nov/25/carbon-footprint-load-laundry
  9. Stop using a dishwasher. Get the kids to wash up instead. A survey by The Daily Telegraph motoring section revealed that one cycle of a kitchen dishwasher releases about 765g of CO2 – more than double that produced by a short drive in the Range Rover Turbo Diesel, which releases 299g per kilometre.
  10. Don’t drive to a gym. Exercise at home instead in front of a You Tube exercise tutorial or go for a run.