DREAD – the art of serial killing

Dread cover“A horrifyingly amusing, twisted, sex’n’drugs-crazed examination of vengeance – both personal and state sanctioned. Oh yes, and did I mention that it’s a love story?” from Lesley Ann Sharrock’s 5 star Amazon review.

I needed a sequel to my Jesus of Nazareth low carb diet book: More Fishes, Fewer Loaves. But should it have been ‘Dread – the art of serial killing’?
Very British Author Problems: having a book out, being embarrassed at having to tell people.

Dread 99p e-book £4.95 paperback direct from http://www.fahrenheit-press.com, £2 Amazon

What’s it about? Mr Madden, serial killer and spy, mistakenly captures Zero, a blonde American Goth, documentary maker, tattooist and Haiku poet. Now she’s staying in his dungeon workshop – where he sculpts the dead and has imprisoned the delinquent who killed his pregnant wife. It’s also a meditation on Charles Dickens, particularly The Mystery of Edwin Drood, how that haunting unfinished book may have concluded.

In earlier desperate attempts at publicity I used to mention the household name rock stars I worked with, though it’s fifteen years since I played saxophone with Roy Harper, Bert Jansch, Kiki Dee or Tom Robinson – and thirty two years since our hit War Baby. Risible 80s hair at foot of this page: https://markramsden13.wordpress.com/about/

Last year I thought a newsy meme might help. ‘Peace Supremo Tony Blair joins the Dread bandwagon. “More blood than the Chilcot report. I can’t stop washing my hands.’

blair Dread

Someone managed to interpret this as support for Tony Blair. How dare I? You’re safer just repeating the title, endlessly, although this confused Amazon’s robots.
‘Did you mean dead Mark Ramsden?’ they asked,
No, DREAD Mark Ramsden. Kindle 99p. Paperback £4.95

Fortunately Lesley Ann Sharrock, a sharp contemporary crime and horror writer, was quicker on the uptake. Her review:.
Killing With Confidence
ByLesley Ann Sharrockon 13 August 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
“It’s a tough job being a spy AND a serial killer. What with his chief-spook boss demanding results, the chav ‘Candidate number 9’ spending what is left of his miserable life trussed up in a coffin while Mr Madden contemplates his captive’s excruciatingly painful end, plus the lippy strumpet in the cage giving our hero earache AND the hots – such grief leaves the poor guy hardly enough time to score his next ketamine hit.

This is a laugh out loud, erudite, sly, blood-and-gore-soaked evisceration of an England we would prefer to pretend does not exist, with a series of cut-throat observations and knock-out one-liners that would make even the best political satirist weep with envy. A set of finely-tuned characters tread the boards in a horrifyingly amusing, twisted, sex’n’drugs-crazed examination of vengeance – both personal and state sanctioned. Oh yes, and did I mention that it’s a love story?”

Thank you Lesley!

(RIP Lesley Ann Sharrock. Grew up in a children’s home, ran a successful magazine company before writing some great books. Incredible woman. Sadly missed.)

It might sound precious to mention I was differently sane for some of the time this was created, marooned on a houseboat among the less than lovely pond life of Rochester, near where Dickens grew up and eventually died. It was a particularly low ebb in a life not always filled with sunshine. This is the Straight Outta Chatham gambit. ‘I suffered for my art, now it’s your turn’. I had never been delusional before, (briefly), a condition that responded surprisingly well to fewer dissociative drugs and more sleep. Ketamine has tested well as a cure for bipolarity but under clinical conditions – as opposed to a debauched madman self-medicating as often as possible. Fortunately that’s all behind me. Now I make do with just anxiety, depression, paranoia, narcissism, trying to ignore getting 18 out of 20 on the psychopath test and using harm reduction to manage chronic drink and drug addiction. (I didn’t like 12 step: whether crawling to the cross or rational guilt tripping.) Three and a half years of clean sobriety now  – cautious hoorah.

Drunk reactionaries Evelyn Waugh and Kingsley Amis both wrote about their mental illnesses. (The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. A Peep Round the Twist.) If I’d read either of those I might have something useful to contribute here. Except: re drunk ‘reactionaries’, some of the outrage driving this story was extreme identity politics, the nonsense that helped get Trump elected, (who is utterly dreadful.) I still can’t believe the recent ‘if you oppose ISIS you’re a racist’ paradigm. (I’m going to use ‘hegemony’ in a minute, which I’m hoping will please any passing Marxists.)

 On Amazon you can
MARVEL at the other 5 star reviews! WONDER why this author is so desperate for validation! (Cold mother, authoritarian dad, occasionally bossy big sister. Which was decades ago anyway. Aren’t you supposed to…grow up? Before you’re, gasp, SIXTY? …)
READ inside at Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0137R82FM?keywords=dread%20ramsden&qid=1440671124&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1
BUY IT for only 99p, direct from Fahrenheit, http://www.fahrenheit-press.com, not bad for a three quarter length novel.


READ the start here.

If, like me, you’ve destroyed your attention span with booze, potions, powders and, worst of all, the internet, Mr Madden’s voice starts after one paragraph. There’s not much sombre theorising thereafter.


Dread – the Art of Serial Killing

“I loved you madly; in the distasteful work of the day, in the
wakeful misery of the night…”
Charles Dickens, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

“The boldest way to supply the missing second half of Edwin Drood would be in the idiom of the present time.” BRIDGET BROPHY LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS

Rochester Cathedral: its square-towered splendour lit by a full moon. Frosted grass shimmers as Mr Madden crunches his way to the graveyard, long after midnight. He zips open a sleeping bag and shakes out the mutilated corpse of Candidate 9, still in hoody, jeans and trainers. He takes care not to desecrate a gravestone, thinking of the families of the dead. We are at the spiritual centre of Charles Dickens’ final book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, wherein a loathsome urchin throws stones at passers by. Perhaps he is an ancestor of Mr Madden’s latest victim, the sort of teenager now called a Chav. The word may have originated in nearby Chatham, certainly not short of feckless youth. Or does it come from the Romany for child? The answer is as elusive as the real person behind Mr Madden’s many identities. He was once a citizen. Before his pregnant wife was killed by a joyrider, just one of the large ever-fertile underclass of the towns alongside Kent’s River Medway. Dickens grew up here, a troubled childhood plagued by the imprisonment of his father for debt. He died in a nearby mansion, a house he promised his father he would buy.
Candidate 9 has an entirely scalped skull, just the eyeballs and teeth remaining. A few fake diamonds have been stuck to the skull in a sarcastic reference to a vulgar artwork by Damien Hirst. Mr Madden is not a fan of the world’s most successful artist but they both know how to make the front pages. A placard around the corpse’s neck reads, “Edwin Drood? The Diamond Geezer?” Mr Madden has signed his name “Chronos”, the Lord of Time and sketched a glyph of the ancient Snake God with its triple heads; horse, bull and lion. Sometimes this entity is represented as Father Time, an old man with a white beard. Whoever Chronos may be Mr Madden has him under control. Forty, looking thirty, tall, shaven-headed, solidly-built, he could be a feared thug or what he actually is, a spy and torturer employed by Her Majesty’s Government. To the tabloids he is the ‘Dickens Nut’, the ‘Kent Vigilante’ or, most often, ‘The Chavkiller.’

“This stuff is radical!” said Zero, the young American blonde I mistakenly captured. She’s reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. She’s smart, achingly beautiful and almost as mad as I am. Short, pert, hair teased into blonde and hennaed spikes framing a heart-shaped face. Her ever changing eyes are little vats of simmering moon juice, maybe blue, maybe green. Black lipstick and nail varnish. A blonde Goth. Presumably her black frock coat and shiny boots are hanging in her lair, along with the bats in her belfry.
Her blue eyes sparkle when she smiles, a vision almost enough to crack my frozen heart. She’s caged, but comfortable, in my basement dungeon which contains a St Andrews Cross, a blood-stained Black and Decker workmate, a gory array of saws, chisels, hammers, power drills and a blood-daubed signed and numbered Damien Hirst diamond skull print. The blood comes from my candidates. I’ve filled in the eyes, painted some lips on. And smeared my signature. As I’m an artist, too. Fame hungry. Greedy. Narcissistic. How hard can it be?
After last night’s risky installation piece – the Dickens/ Damien mash up, dumped in Rochester Cathedral graveyard, where my masked, hooded figure would have showed up on scores of CCTV cameras, I might not have much time left. This could be what screenwriters and Story Nazis call ‘The Inciting Incident’. My cosy domesticity, me and the candidates, has been shattered. I blame her. She’s trouble.

One of my paperback editions of Drood has these words on the back. It could be my life story. No wonder The Mystery got under my skin.
‘“I am a muddy, solitary, moping weed,”’ she reads, hand on her forehead, melodramatic but just right for John Jasper’s obsessive love for Rosa Bud.
“He’s so in love with her,” she says, approvingly, for all male lovers must be so smitten. In an ideal world. Back in this one she reads on silently, rapt, with more relish than Branston’s pickle.

Why did she had to go round Chatham doing wheelies on a little silver bike in a hoody and facescarf? Near the estate where the scrote who killed my pregnant wife lived? Lee Stone is already in my cellar, awaiting his fate. But I fancied nabbing his big brother. You know how it is with collections. Get one, get the set. I mean, how was I supposed to know she wasn’t him? It’s the fog of war, innit? As we used to say in Ireland after we had been torturing the wrong IRA guy for days. Or perhaps even tormenting an innocent civilian. It was somehow more of a farce in the Middle East, with the Americans in charge. Some of the interrogations were a little too thorough. A tad rigorous. And accidents do happen. No wonder Her Majesty’s Secret Service eventually decided I needed a rest. Invalided out. Oh the shame of it. Peaked too soon. Put out to grass. And now they want me back. I’m supposed to investigate some street hooligans and their far right party: England Awake!. The first thing I’m going to do is try to get them to lose the exclamation mark. These guys are already startling enough without annoying punctuation. Why did Control have to pick me? I suppose I’ve already got the shaven head, the muscles and the goatee. Just need a swastika tattoo.

A bloodcurdling moan reaches us from the next room, slightly muffled by the coffin in which I have encased my wife’s killer. Lee Stone is currently listening to the sound of pigs being slaughtered, on headphones taped to his head, inside a blood-encrusted leather bondage mask. They don’t like it up ‘em, those pigs, and the squealing is an extremely hard sound to process, especially after the first six months or so. Or perhaps not. Maybe you get used to it. I must ask him one day. Zero asked that he be housed elsewhere as the screaming disturbs her rest. So he’s in the soundproof room. Did I leave the door open on purpose? There are no accidents as shrinks would tell us? Or do I like teasing my over-opinionated guest?
“You should finish that guy off,” she says. “He’s suffered enough.”
Mary, my pregnant wife may have suffered for an hour alone. Knowing our child was also dying. No. Eternity is not enough.



PS (December 1st 2015) It is now months since I promised a blog on John Fowles’s The Collector, and its strange after life as a guidebook for serial killers. This also featured a captured woman, (this one mistakenly) but the similarities end there. (No women are hurt during Dread.) The Collector was a deserved critical and commercial success and will be in print as long as civilisation endures.
(April 2018) Mr Fowles was a gentleman. He could have written a middle class vigilante novel but didn’t. However, he brooded on such a project for years, exasperated by, well, just about anyone who wasn’t John Fowles. This was variously titled The Shit, The Bugger, The Eliminator, The Philanderer, The Aristocrat and The F*cker. He seemed to be troubled by social mobility. Well, he was fortunate to die before the advent of chavs – proudly ignorant thieves and parasites. They didn’t even invent the baseball cap.

Serial killers inspired by John Fowles are listed on Wikipedia as 3.1Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, 3.2Christopher Wilde, 3.3Robert Berdella. To discover what inspired Fowles’ novels and vicariously enjoy his tangled private life it’s well worth reading John Fowles A Life in Two Worlds by Eileen Warburton  or both volumes of his journals. So I didn’t have to write that blog and no one had to read it. A triumph.


Back to White Knuckle Sobriety. The Duke Ellington Cure.

Duke Ellington and John Coltrane In A Sentimental Mood.

Moderate drinking finally proved too dangerous after five months successful harm reduction. So I’m back to white knuckle sobriety. (AA jargon for the no slogan, non-Zombie, no-crawl-to-the-cross method.) I never surrendered to their system although some of it once helped me through eight and half years abstinence.

It’s very risky for alcoholics to start drinking again but I managed five months very occasional, very moderate drinking – inspired by Smart Recovery and the abysmally low success rate of 12 step. Till two weeks ago.

I had a two beers maximum, with the occasional bottle of spirits. It never got out of hand because booze isn’t ketamine, what I really want. (It’s a year since I’ve had any dance club drugs, achieved by a failsafe method which will beat any addiction: poverty. And ketamine may be permanently unavailable now due to a crackdown in India. It’s too risky and expensive to import. Now that actually was a cure for depression, if a tad unpredictable.)

The final drink relapse came out of nowhere, on a whim, the sort of inexplicable snap decision I was supposed to be writing about last time. (How a relapse can kill heroin addicts, RIP Harris Wittels, a superb screenwriter and so much more. https://markramsden13.wordpress.com/2015/04/04/relapses-and-overdoses-harris-wittels-parks-and-recreation-writer-wise-and-funny-enlightened-soul/). Which I either forgot about or realized there was nothing to say about a shadowy nemesis I will never understand.

An ABC impulse control strategy was recommended during my brief farcical entanglement with Rational Emotive Behaviorial Therapy. Yes, even the title contradicts itself. And why would you pay for anything invented by ‘Windy’ Dryden? (His actual name, the one he uses for professional purposes. I assumed it was a misprint and referred to him as Wendy Dryden during the first session.)
‘A’ was the impulse. You were meant to put something at ‘B’, (deep breaths? Soothing words?). This would prevent the impulse ‘A’ becoming uncontrolled anger at ‘C’. In those days ‘C’ arrived all too quickly. I might as well have had a magic spell to prevent lightning strikes. It was as much use as a water pistol against a flash fire. The rage kept on coming.

The slight improvement I’ve made recently may just be becoming more docile with age. Or I’m more conscious of mortality or failing health. Maybe I’m growing up, as I approach sixty? Fat chance. Whatever, somehow I managed five months of very careful occasional moderate drinking before I snapped.

I bought a bottle of rum and two bottles of 6.1% Bishops Finger – don’t like the taste or the name but it is the strongest good brew available locally. (They stopped the off licenses selling 10 % Viking death lager, which is harsh on us occasional headbangers who would like a significant consciousness alteration for a quid. Bloody do-gooders!)
Maybe this was the rare intoxication day you’re allowed in Smart Recovery? (As long as you keep counting the drinks and stay watchful as you return to moderate drinking.) Unfortunately I didn’t feel drunk or even remotely merry after a bottle of rum and two half litres of strong ale. Maybe it was over too long a time or I was on an upward bipolar energy surge but I didn’t feel a thing.
Money down the drain, for nothing, except a massive intake of useless calories, way too many brain cells torched and no exercise instead of the hundred press ups I’ve managed most days this year. Plus you age very quickly on such a regime. You look like your own ghost.

For once, miraculously, there were no psychotic internet posts – psychotic used correctly in the clinical sense, as insisted upon by the public school Bin Laden groupies at the Al Grauniad. They recently amended face-ache Marina Hyde’s drivel to that effect. (She’s just so effortlessly superior, a cut above, which must be why she went out with, er, Piers Morgan.)

So, no death threats or ‘extremist’ ranting (ie anti-Marxist, counter Jihad). My armchair thug must be running out of testosterone. Perhaps he’s taking female hormones in preparation for gender reassignment. Maybe he’s taken up Buddhist meditation, like my hero Herbie Hancock. (Whose autobiography is highly recommended)
A mild trance did ease the pain of listening to England’s feeble cricket performance on Test Match Special (I know how to party…) but the only positive was the realization this was the abyss, ‘hitting bottom’, after which the only way is up.

Many abstinent months are needed before playing with fire again. Feeling very good two weeks in.

I read somewhere that Duke Ellington may have stopped drinking eventually upon realizing he was sober after the intake of what should have been a stupefying quantity of booze.
Enough is enough. This drug doesn’t work.

MAY 2018 More than three years sober now. Which buys a lot of green tea…


AA versus Harm Reduction. Seneca’s Sickest Burns. Marcus Aurelius’s Art of War. Rage Against…Pretty Much Everything.

Welcome to the only wellness and sanity blog that drives its readers stark raving mad. And I am, of course, the person least qualified to write it. My Native American name would be ‘Skin Too Thin’. Eclectic, Bi-Polar, no anger management, I’m the only artist to have split with themselves due to ‘musical differences’.

I should be over instant flare ups and pointless bickering. But would the Stoics have been so damn philosophical if they’d had internet feedback? Never mind Seneca’s Epistles we’d have Seneca’s Sickest Burns, Marcus Aurelius’s Art of War. Zeno’s On Landing the First Punch, Cicero’s Kill ’em all, Let Zeus sort ’em out.

I was informed that I’d be ‘in trouble’ if AA responded to my last blog. What? Some sheep are going to bleat at me? And why can’t they respond? Because alcoholics can’t be trusted with anything. Great. So you can’t criticise 12 Step, despite its very high failure rate, or its reliance on belittling recruits and herding the flock with with oft-repeated slogans – a mind control system also used by Chinese Communism and religious fundamentalists.

This came from a dear friend still enthusiastic about Erhard Seminars Training, EST. Which involved what is now termed abuse: breaking and rebuilding newbies, who were called turkeys, and a lot worse, for the first weekend. You got the enlightenment in the second weekend – and it wasn’t cheap. This programme is maybe quicker than a Zen monastery and perfectly acceptable if you’re submissive: I’m not. (Except, occasionally, during some therapeutic intimate procedures when I was far too ‘toppy’ for most orthodox dominant facilitators, summed up by Spencer Woodcock’s Fetish Times cartoon: ‘I might be your slave but you’re not going to be boss me about.’)

Shouldn’t I be indulging my critic in Socratic dialogue? No, this is a Thousand Year Reich of Rational Tyranny – No God, No Higher Power and we might even be unkind to earthbound deities, such as Alain De Botton. (Why did I once rudely and stupidly address the people’s philosopher as ‘baldy’? When I’ve had a shaven head since 92 myself? After enjoying many of his books? Must be my legion of demons. Some of whom are more persistent than a milk-seeking moggy. Sorry Mr De Botton and, again, Mr Terence Blacker. It is part of a mental disorder but still shouldn’t have happenned.)

Higher Power not needed Harm )

Boring but necessary disclaimer, in case I get attacked by another 12 Stepper – you can get a great deal of help from various programmes but they’re only as good as the people in them. They differ widely from place to place.
I could never quite avoid enthusiastic evangelicals but at least I never experienced Hollywood 12 step which involves microphones, applause, people joining just to meet important film people, and, across America in general, people who are there unwillingly as a legal sanction.

I dabbled in AA and NA over three decades, getting an occasional boost but doing most of it alone. I was never convinced, not for long. I was still shocked when a Doctor told me AA doesn’t work for everyone. How can he say that? Isn’t it the way. the truth, the light?
It can be.
But I can’t be hypnotised and I don’t take orders. Which is no doubt reprehensible if you like the hair shirt, or were raised Catholic.

What worked best was my wife asking me to stop: she was pregnant with our first child. I managed eight and a half years continual sobriety – apart from two beers to redirect a troublesome acid trip and one beer during an especially aggravating Christmas with the in laws. Just ONE beer? someone asked, clearly used to the pressures of Stressmas – although they may not have experienced, as I did, a sister in law running from the Christmas preparations into the snow, screaming for a divorce. She reappeared eight hours later to find that her husband’s present was a self help book entitled (rough translation from the German).’Openness in Marriage – One speaks: the other listens’. The ‘thank you’ and ‘you’re welcome’ were a little strained. As we sat around the Christmas tree among discarded wrapping paper and the wreckage of that marriage my father in law held up a glass and said, entirely seriously, ‘So, despite it all, a totally successful Christmas’.

Was this ‘Fake it to make it’? one of the 12 Step slogans I was recently dismissing? Which can work. If you want them to. There is a lot of good in the 12 Step programme but the sheer volume of horror stories related on orange-papers.org tell another story. People need to know the antidote to bad experiences and alternative recovery options.

My current abstinence is enabled by vanity – flatter stomach, not looking eight thousand years old – and the need to avoid the Grim Reaper. There’s also a fanatical penny-pinching delight in what drink no longer costs. This works better – for me – than pious homilies and holding hands with people with whom you have nothing in common. And I’d rather drink green tea with lashings of fat-busting lemon while watching Ray Donovan. You can keep stewed builders tea and a glum browse of 1930s tracts about taking a moral reinventory and the importance of ‘keeping regular’.

And after many years with ketamine and MDMA, alcohol just feels like an expensive lobotomy. On the very rare occasions I succumb to drink the hilarity and relaxation window is soon gone, leaving just dumb aggression – which could have serious legal consequences now I’m running out of Police cautions. Even words on the internet can now get you a custodial sentence.

Link shows possibly inflammatory cartoon of AA member doing research (unconscious drunk on floor) contrasted with Harms Reduction member researching at computer, jotting down information.
Perhaps harsh – let’s not forget ‘Whatever works’. If you’re happy submitting to the group, God or a higher power then get on your knees as recommended by some 12 Steppers. I’ve done it. The handful of meetings I attended helped the eight and a half years abstinence. But the hair shirt doesn’t suit me. I’m standing on my own two feet.

Health and strength to the people for whom it works but if you don’t want to be guilt-tripped by uptight slogan-junkies other options are available.
Whatever works.
You could even mix the different approaches. Might make a good cocktail…

Upside of Robin Williams’ Suicide? Orange Papers. Communal exorcism for recovering 12 Steppers

Sincere condolences to Robin Williams’ family and friends. Many thanks for much entertainment and enlightenment.

In the wake of this tragic event a Doctor wrote, ‘Depression is a terminal illness’. Thanks, mate. I was already massively bummed out – for if Robin Williams couldn’t fix it then who can? The Quack might have put that a little less bleakly. Well, I’ve been on death row for more than fortyfive years now.
I’m aware there may be no cure for depression, not for everyone, not all of the time. But it can be managed. Unfortunately I’m about as much use as a BBC middle management drone, without the salary or the job security. Although, like them, I have this position for life.

Robin Williams’ death hurt, especially coming at a time of particularly grim world news. I had a wallow in gloom and doom. Then a Facebook friend mentioned that the troubled star had been back in AA. It hadn’t worked and look what happened. Is their policy of belittling and breaking down new recruits correct? Is it even safe, if you’re especially vulnerable? (My own guess would include a possible anti-depressant malfunction, which can also trigger suicidal thoughts). She cited Orange Papers, an online resource where people seek abstinence or moderation through logic and scientific analysis. Mostly they have a blast sharing 12 Step horror stories, a sort of communal exorcism.

So, sorry to be selfish, but I was guided to something positive as a result of his death. (You could also say, to be appropriately respectful to a great man: he is free of pain, he lived ten lifetimes in one, he excelled in more ways than he could initially have hoped for, he grew as an artist, he helped many people not just with his work, he experienced reciprocated love, and he had children, which is most of what the universe wants us to do. All in all, one of evolution’s finest products.)

While we’re bitching at 12 step it’s worth mentioning the rational variation: Smartrecovery.org – all the benefits of group recovery without God Junkies preaching and leeching. 12 step may work for you, although there is no statistical evidence to prove it’s any better than willpower. You’re more likely to meet a Christian vampire getting high from spreading the gospel. Hey! Physician, heal thyself. Get a dopamine hit from something else. Model trains. Mini golf. Cultivate your own garden.

So if you feel you have been used or abused by 12 step groups, or if it didn’t work for you and you want to know why, a veteran will tell you all you need to know – and sometimes more 🙂 – at http://www.orange-papers.org/ Also on Facebook.

If you’ve been affected by suicide, particularly the inexplicable choice made by someone who had everything to live for, find a sympathetic friend or a professional who can help. Don’t read Night Train by Martin Amis – which just muddies the waters, unless you’re determined to top yourself, in which case fill your boots.

This short, clumsy novel is deliberately inconclusive, and the ending doesn’t make sense, in the unlikely event you can work out what is actually happening. Art imitating life? Or just shoddy and slapdash? – what you’d expect from an experimental writer whose chief concern is looking clever. H’mm, more than ten years since I read it and I’m still furious.

LIFE AFFIRMING FINISH. (fade up happy music. Cue dancing girls) Currently I’m feeling mildly positive: exercising more, just got a big SAD light therapy lamp (only £50 + p+p as opposed to the £100 I paid twenty years ago.http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000YSDHZ8/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1, hardly any drink or drug use this year, further improvements to my diet. Things are getting better, despite the serious long term challenges, And I’m convinced that pumpkin seeds are improving, ahem, male vitality. (Could be the zinc.)

Maybe depression is a terminal illness. But remission feels good. You’ll have to drag me aboard the Night Train. I’m not buying my own ticket.

http://www.smartrecovery.org.uk/ ‘We help people recover from addictive behaviour and lead meaningful and satisfying lives.

Our approach is secular and science based; using motivational, behavioural and cognitive methods.

We run a network of self help meetings and also partner with care professionals.’

Penn and Teller call BULLSHIT! on 12 Step recovery


12 step is a cult? Addiction is not a disease? HERESY! And who wants to be shouted at by blowhard buttface Penn – or mimed at by creepy dwarf Teller? Why excoriate something that has saved countless lives? Science evangelists can be just as boring as the let-me-save-you-while-oversharing meeting junkies you get ‘in these rooms’.

DISCLAIMER Penn and Teller are smart, very accomplished performers who raise many important issues in eight series of tearing apart received wisdom. Just sharing the tough love… They do give space to opposing views, with some merciless editing. Very entertaining in a contrarian-just-to-be-cunty, televisual clickbait way. Well, pardon them for being interesting. And informative. And funny.Despite being an addict for over forty years I didn’t know there is a network of rational recovery groups (http://www.smartrecovery.org.uk/) or that recovery rate is 5% if you do the programme or if you don’t. Hang on, statistics can be BULLSHIT! and in any case some do learn moderate drinking – if they do a long enough stretch with 12 step, use it during the initial crisis, or come to prefer clean and sober to prison, violence, crime, illness, homelessness, family breakdown, the agony of missing your children, poverty, incontinence and death. (Although I was never degenerate enough to wear long hair in a pony tail. While not noticing that the hippy look might balance a fat, self-satisfied, ever-shouting face. Thank me later.)

Whatever works.

I got eight and a half years sobriety once with the help of AA or was it because I was asked to give up while we awaited the birth of our son? In that time there were just two relapses: one beer to redirect a bad acid trip – alone with toothache, at New Year in a dark house, what could go wrong? – and another during a grueling family Christmas. Someone said: ‘just ONE beer with the in laws?’
Only two drinks so far this year: one very moderate despite the extreme provocation of my Mother’s visit – a female Basil Fawlty who once gave Michael Heseltine a bollocking despite herself being a Tory – and the other a disastrous attempt to slowly sip Lidl’s as-good-as-a-£100 whisky. As if I care about ‘superb mouth-watering gristy sugars’. Six hours of wild hilarity later…the whisky had vanished. Then a day of doom. So it’s back to the 13 Step Satanic recovery – hedonist self-interest, rational choices – without crawling to the cross or using a higher power. Step One on its own can work. Just stop. Stay stopped (the hard part).

I had already learned the fat one’s conclusion: ‘If you don’t want to be a victim, don’t drink. Your choice.’  This fascinating programme will help those riled by the bleating of slogans and preachers who don’t respect your space. It shows there is another way. Excellent work, Penn and Teller.