Before I was born in Liverpool in the 1970s, my mother worked feeding the ticker-tape reels on main-frame computers at the Mecanno factory. My dad was a truck driver, who has spent most of his working life driving between mainland Europe and the UK. My greatest family educator was my nan. Her father was a doctor who had worked himself into an early grave. There were no pensions or life insurance back then. The women's influence dominated my existence, which was certainly not a bad thing in the long run.
When Star Wars came out, the neighbours kids and I role played the space opera. I wanted to be Princess Leia - as she pulled her bootstraps up when the shit hit the fan. I was discouraged from this choice, to my dismay. I didn't get it. I didn't get the gender divide.
A couple of years later, my mother had a miscarriage with my sister. With the loss, came the opportunity of change and my father came off the road from truck driving. The decision was made to re- train as licensees and open a public house.
We moved from Merseyside to Shropshire. By a stroke of 'luck', they found a pub close to a brewery. I remember the day my mum took me to visit our new home – about a month before we moved there. I remember the bleakness of autumn fields and crow's nests in the trees as we travelled from urban to rural. I was unnerved. When we saw the town, I was really confused. I didn't understand why you would want to move somewhere like this? I felt like it was fifty years behind modern civilisation. As far as I was concerned, it looked like we were moving from a pre-corrupted Galactic Empire to the wrong side of Tatooine.
The next two years saw my sci-fi version of reality shattered. Whilst I had already been introduced to fear (nothing too bad – one attempted beating and skidding off the side of a ship), in this new world, I now discovered racism and homophobia. I discovered hate. In this new world, anyone who was not white was subhuman. Anyone who didn't conform to gender stereotypes was a less than subhuman!
In one of my loneliest times of this period, I was groomed. When the truth came to the surface and I finally realised the intentions of somebody who I thought was a friend, I was heartbroken. Betrayed. Humans were in general, bad, I now thought.
Depression engulfed me and whilst I had already started cutting up my arm with a bread knife, I soon discovered it was better to be 'out of it', than make scars. My alcohol drinking started at ten years of age. I managed to find a small gap in the ceiling of the beer store outside the pub and whilst my parents were working behind the bar, I would break in and take beer.
My world morphed into adapt and survive. In the next few years, the brewery folded. The business went tits up. My mum and dad divorced. The survival came in the form of punk rock, heavy metal, horror films and sci-fi. Generation 2000AD. Born for the apocalypse.
At thirteen, my head flipped. As a result, my teenage years were mostly fantastic. My mum took on an extra added dimension as a big sister role. I had a close group of friends and was (mostly) with the same partner from the age of thirteen to twenty. Very lucky. Although I was a fuck up, I was a reasonably stable fuck up.
I have never had money and never been bothered in chasing money. I, for the most part, have lived by the skin of my pants. With my own personal priorities of sex, drugs and rock n' roll. I have been fortunate.
In my twenties, I wanted everyone else to have it good too. Alternative culture provided me with the education of tools and resources to change the world! Spread the happiness! Unfortunately, society in general was not ready to have a chat about climate change. I became disillusioned. I moved to London and became immersed in music. The planet might be fucked up, but might as well go out with a bang, right?
By the turn of the millennium, I had been blessed with my first child - I would say the greatest ground breaking positive impacts in my life (apart from music and film) was discovering the orgasm, unidentified aerial phenomena, the use of psychedelics and parenthood.
As I had not addressed my own mental health issues, though, I had set myself up to fail. Substance abuse is self-medication. Of all the substances I have tried. Alcohol, for me personally, has been the worse. With alcohol, I can be a danger to those around me and myself.
In 2001 one of my crew committed suicide. I spiraled out of control and became atrocious. Whilst dealing with it, the universe gave me a nod and another blessing came, in the form of my triplets. Adapt. Survive. Pull your bootstraps up.
A few more deaths in this period and total meltdown was upon me. My partner and I split up. I quit my music world and started afresh. A new relationship with added step children, plus one more bairn of me own. It has been one crazy ride, but since 2003 it has been mostly on the up - except for the alcohol. I asked for help in 2006. The first time I went for a counselling assessment, I was told that there was 'an awful lot to go through and we can just mop up the sides' until I got proper psychiatric help. Talk about lost souls...
I ended up going through rehab five times until in August 2012, I attended a new pilot project in north Westminster at my local GPs. This time I would also take the Disulfram™. The doctors said I could only do the detox, as long as it came with the after-care in the form of one hour a week with a counsellor. Though, reluctant at first, due to my past experiences, I agreed.
The first time laid eyes on my counsellor, I had a feeling it was going to be different. It was something to do with scar across his neck and the fact he has motorbike gear on. He also liked punk rock. This was Gary Sutton. He was deeply intuitive and a keen observer. He had a knack of subtly dropping an idea and listening to it unfold as I would spend half an hour deconstructing the subject matter and coming to my own same conclusion. 99% of the time, I would walk out our sessions thinking I could conquer anything.
Although, I was officially only meant to get six months therapy with Gary, his opinion was there no limit on the time it takes to heal. Maybe it could have been shorter period, but I got four years with him in the end. In those four years I had three close deaths to deal with, which I am sure added to our time together. In 2016, the project could no longer justify me being in therapy. I was asked if I would like to be a mentor for the related group session work. I accepted and have been doing that since then.
In November 2018, I again asked for help. This time to do with the PTSD regarding the phenomenon. These sessions were much different and fifty percent of the time was a balance between what I discussed and fifty percent of what Gary was going through. He had cancer. We talked of transplants, of mortality. Gary had done some work centered on death and was very astute in his beliefs and firm in keeping a grip on reality. He went in to hospital for a transplant. He never came out. Whilst I am currently unaware of the direct circumstances, I have been led to believe there was an infection. They switched his life support machine off ten days or so ago. Of all the uncertainties in life, I never saw this coming. My deepest condolences to his wife Monique and his daughters, Katie and Emily.
Not only did Gary help sober up many people, but his day job was for the charity, www.release.org.uk
Apart from the recovering alcoholics, there is a plethora of people on remand who were looking to Gary and the charity for assistance with drug related crimes. He represented many who would have been given more draconian sentences if Gary had not been there. Gary spoke reason to the courts. I pray any of those individuals in that position still get the right assistance.
Everything in my reality bubble has meaning, whether I can see it or not. Over the past few years, I have been studying the Elder Furthark. One of the earliest inscriptions translates as:
"Riding seems easy to every warrior while they are indoors; and very courageous to those who transverse the high roads on the back of a stout horse".
Gary was not only counsellor, but friend and surrogate brother to me. He was my stout horse and I miss him.
I write this to thank him for the privilege of knowing him. Despite the pandemic, we still have hope. One step backwards for forty two steps forward.
Keep on truckin' xxx
wising up the marks since 1993