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   

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:

Link to my new book ‘Gambling Broke Us’:

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


Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.