Desk-bound daydreams and experiences of weasel poo 

I’m slumped at my desk; half because I’m suffering from a really awful cold (yes, British ‘summertime’, because of you), and half because I may have exerted myself a little too much last night when teaching my ballet class. 

Today I am writing up our precedent paragraphs that we send to our clients via email. These explain how defamation law works, how their claim may proceed and the type of compensatory damages available should they be successful in their claim. Tasks like this come with some enjoyment due to the creativity involved but creativity requires concentration. In an attempt to fuel my brain and wake myself up, I have a big sip of my coffee. Almost simultaneously, I notice how sweet it is today whilst a message from my boyfriend also pops up:

“I gave you the weasel poo coffee today – the one we got from Vietnam”

Oh yes, of course. The weasel poo coffee. This seemed an entirely normal thing to be consuming when we were in Vietnam last summer but now it’s rather odd to be drinking weasel poo coffee at my desk. In a law firm. In London. Whilst writing paragraphs on defamation law.

I think back to Vietnam with all its endearing, albeit bizarre, quirks and oddities, like learning to cross the road (anyone who’s been to Hanoi will understand) and drinking weasel poo coffee and 35p beers. I feel lucky and excited to know that we will again embark on another adventure this summer where we will experience more cultures and people that differ so greatly from our little microcosm of British life back here in London. 

I decide to make a list: Top 5 weird and wonderful experiences I have had around the world so far. And, of course, here is said list! 

Top 5 weird and wonderful world experiences (so far!)

  1. Beer Corner, Hanoi – if you fancy lunch and a few beers for under £5 whilst hanging out with the Vietnamese locals, Beer Corner is the place. Once you get past the fact everyone is sitting up to plastic tables on plastic chairs made for children (even 4ft 11″ me struggled…) then it really is spectacular. We almost sat in complete silence just watching the bustling streets of Hanoi with fascination as the locals drank beer and ate peanuts on their lunch breaks. Nothing about this is glamorous; this is first hand experience of daily life in Hanoi. 
  2. Hanukkah in Israel – truly one of the best experiences I have ever had when my awesome friend, Tally, invited me to celebrate Hannukah with her and her family in Israel. Tonnes of singing, tonnes of dancing and tonnes of amazing food! We went just after the heightened conflict with Palestine so there were soldiers everywhere and we even stayed in her grandparents’ bomb shelter! But this was all part of the experience and I wish I could have Shakshuka for breakfast everyday 😍
  3. Dos Hermanos, Havana – we experienced a lot of beautiful weather in Cuba, but one of my favourite experiences was when the heavens opened and we dashed into the nearest bar with live music (a priority, obviously). This bar turned out to be Dos Hermanos, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite haunts. A regrettably untranslatable word, ‘hygge’ springs to mind, (as my half Danish boyfriend and his family would say), when we were sat there with a Cohiba in one hand and a Havana Club mojito in the other whilst watching the rain hammer down on Havana.
  4. Boat trip around the reed beds in Dalyan – we met up with a local Turkish family who took us on a little impromptu boat trip around the reed beds for the day. Despite neither father nor son speaking English, they took us to see some of the most fantastic sights. From being so close to the large and beautiful wild sea turtles we could even touch their bellies as they fed them, to sending beers out to us on a floating tray (yes, a floating tray holding beers. Wow) whilst we swam in the hot springs.  They even barbecued fresh fish on their boat that they had caught earlier that day. 
  5. Sitting in the treehouse in the jungle  in Koh Lanta with a former Japanese actor – Koh Lanta, the awesome Thai island off Krabi that we have been to twice, is one of my favourite places on earth. On this particular occasion, we were on mopeds and saw a sign for handmade jewellery. After nearly getting attacked by a turkey and two geese, we were met with Yasu, a topless Japanese man who was a former actor and producer in New York. He took us to a treehouse, gave us homemade tea, and talked to us for ages about his life back in New York and how he made the leap to leave it all behind and come live in the jungle on a remote island in Thailand. We, of course, went back to visit a further two times and plan to visit him again soon in the future. 

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Just on my way into the office…

I’m not entirely sure my law firm would be happy with me doing this at my desk, however, so I’ll have to save the stretches until later! Remember to like my Facebook page for details on my ballet classes coming soon to Ealing! 😘

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Emily Jane Dance – coming soon! 

Good afternoon ☀️

Please like and love and share my Facebook page for ballet lessons coming soon to the West London area 😘

Click here to be directed to my page for more details! 💃🏻

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Jez Rose: The Behaviour Expert on Being Extraordinary

Jez Rose is tucked into the corner of a pub just outside of Milton Keynes. After going to the other Navigation Inn eight miles down the road, (it is briefly debated who didn’t listen to who), all is forgiven when he greets me with a white wine spritzer, nibbles and that infectious beaming grin that can melt the heart of any dispirited worker in the, often demoralising, corporate world.

 

I have known of Jez for a few years now and know well that he is a great believer in being extraordinary. After a miscellany of varied careers and enterprises, it is not surprising to see that he is thriving in a profession which involves delivering extremely significant life lessons to groups of people, along with the aid of large inflatable props (yes, all is to be explained).

 

So let’s start with the basics. Jez is a Behaviourist that specialises in human behaviour and has formed his own brand as The Behaviour Expert, which creates, as he explains, “entertaining and dynamic presentations that efficaciously change behaviour for businesses and organisations world wide”.

 

He highlights that his main focuses are leadership, customer service and general behaviour change, and his work can involve anything from boosting morale to vastly improving how teams work together to enhance business.

 

It all sounds pretty straightforward, but here’s the catch: Jez Rose utilises his roots in comedy as well as 8ft balloons, giant smoke rings, chemistry experiments and “a whole lot of fun” to guarantee that The Behaviour Expert will change behaviour. To be honest, no one would expect anything less from someone who has previously been described as the love child of Russell Brand and Kenneth Williams. Mix that in with his other epithet of being a ‘behavioural superstar’, and an attractive hybrid of a performing genius forms Jez’s inimitable character.

 

“I know that in order to change behaviour most effectively and in order for people to learn and to engage most efficiently, it needs to be fun and entertaining. The end result is that we can guarantee that we will change behaviour”.

 

It is unique, particularly in the corporate environment, and it is this niche which Jez and The Behaviour Expert brand proudly occupies.

 

“My goal is for halfway through a training presentation for you to think; “am I watching a comedy show or am I learning?” We rarely use presentation slides to create presentations, and if we do, then it’s certainly not how everyone else is using them”.

 

Jez explains that a ‘unique tapestry’ of key experiences has led to what they do right now. Whilst he admits it isn’t for every client, he likes to think that it is for those who wish – or need – to proactively drive change and are happy for someone with specialist knowledge – and a giant inflatable prop – to do that for them.

 

But what are these key experiences that have spawned such a desire to change behaviour in the way in which he does?

 

Firstly, a former career in the NHS and experiencing “hideous” training presentations was, in fact, a defining factor in what Jez does today.

 

“I saw presentations on topics from hand washing to fire assistance, all of that normal mandatory training that you have to go through, and I sat there wishing the minutes away until I could go back to my job. That’s really just not effective”, he explains.

 

It’s those experiences of poor training (although he emphasises not all of it) that motivated Jez to want to do things differently.

 

When he reveals his background in comedy and live performance, it is clear to see how this also plays a very distinct part in the ‘unique tapestry’ that makes up The Behaviour Expert, and it is certainly evident that he has an innate fascination with the quirks of human behaviour; those ‘lost glasses on the top of your head’ moments that everyone has experienced at some point.

 

A one-man comedy show on the oddities of human behaviour is next on the cards for Jez who will be appearing at the 540 seat Connaught Theatre in Worthing on the 26th September, with his hit-show, Oh, Behave! And how does that all fit into what he does right now as a Behaviourist?

 

“The focus of everything I do, whether it’s coaching or training – or in the case of the show, performing, is all about human behaviour but we’re not necessarily learning anything here [in the show]… just shuffling to the edge of your seat when I play Russian Roulette with a glass bottle. And that is, for me, an interesting journey which I can take an audience on through comedy, danger, suspense, pathos and intrigue”.

 

As in true Jez style though, a fruitful career being a human Behaviourist and comedian are by no means the only things he is up to at the moment.

 

Recently, he has spoken at the internationally renowned TEDx conference in Milton Keynes, and will have his third book published this summer. The aptly titled ‘Be a Purple Banana’ is a common sense guide to turning ordinary people into extraordinary people.

 

He has also seen huge sell-out success running his speaking masterclasses, which involve one day of Jez revealing all of his secrets about how to become an expert in your industry. Having spent some time getting to know Jez it is perhaps unsurprising that these secrets include conducting a presentation whilst holding a pineapple without referring to it for as long as possible, so people begin to wonder what on earth it could be for.

 

Nevertheless, however ridiculous some of these tactics may seem, no one can deny the man certainly knows what he is talking about. Whether your female clients all receive a red rose on February 14th, you take time to write handwritten ‘thank you’ cards, or you even understand about using the ‘correct pen’, Jez has got every little detail covered.

 

“The smallest changes in behaviour are often the biggest factors. I constantly apply the +10% principle to everything – it doesn’t seem much but it’s the difference between being 90% there, and 100% perfect”.

 

He has “a bit of a reputation amongst entertainment agencies” as being the hardest working expert speaker (invited to speak at nearly 250 dates a year!) working diligently not only to get new clients, but to develop long-term relationships with them, to help develop higher performance in their people.

 

The conversation soon starts to shift from the ins and outs of The Behaviour Expert as Jez mentions losing his grandmother last year. Due to her suffering from dementia, Jez has since announced that The Behaviour Expert’s corporate charity partner will be the Contented Dementia Trust.

 

“She really was a wonderful woman”, he says fondly when reflecting on the woman he was so close to. “But I felt that because she couldn’t remember the memories that she had actually created, the validity of them was somehow lost for me. Dementia is this generation’s cancer”.

 

After becoming involved with the charity whilst she was alive, Jez wanted to do all he could to support them following her death as he says, it had such a major impact on him. He now takes “great pride” in writing a cheque to the Contented Dementia Trust each month with the proceeds from his second book, ‘Have a Crap Day’.

 

This support for the charity prompted the creation of ‘Jez’s Big Weekend Makeover’, an event which sees a team of volunteers descending on the Contented Dementia Trust building in Burford – an old community hospital that was in need of a revamp – and giving it a lick of paint, beautifying the gardens and doing repairs that have been long overdue.

 

“It’s my way of giving back because without our minds, what are we? And that’s what is so crippling about dementia; whilst your body may be fit and able, the person slowly fades away”.

 

Jez Rose is a ‘unique tapestry’ himself; the little complexities that make him also present him as an intelligent, ambitious and extremely compassionate individual, who is very aware of his own and others’ existences.

 

The comedian in him will always be intrinsic to his very nature however, and it is very refreshing to find someone so contented in his life as Jez is.

 

“There is this anonymous quote that I love; ‘I just want to spend the rest of my life laughing’. Isn’t that great? I want that on my gravestone. That is kind of what I want to do, skip through my life and laugh whilst I’m here”.

 

A very humbling idea that certainly left me smiling long after the interview had finished.

 

 

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Article for buzz.bournemouth.ac.uk

My article on electronic cigarettes and World No Tobacco Day for Bournemouth University’s journalism blog, Buzz.

 

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May 30, 2014 · 10:40 am

Summertime body sadness banished my way!

I have always been in reasonably good shape and quite fit from all my dancing that I do. But since having my head down during final year, I have been more sofa-bound and indulging whenever I can on nice meals, wine and chocolate as a relief from studying. Nevertheless, with at least two holidays on the horizon, I thought it was about time I proactively pursued a summer fitness regime.

I realise I am quite behind with this. I often see friends’ posts on what they are up to in terms of fitness and clean eating; all whilst I am sat happily sipping on my third glass of red wine. I thought protein shakes were these disgusting concoctions that only the very dedicated dared to drink to help bulk up, clean eating looked insanely boring and gyms…well, they’re no dance studio to me.

So, with minor effort and other commitments taken into account (uni, jobs etc), these are my top five ways of building a feasible fitness regime that is actually reasonably fun.

1. Running to parks with equipment
The Great Outdoor Gym Company (TGOGC) is one of a few companies who are now installing gym equipment in public places for people to use whilst they are outdoors. From Moor Park in Preston, Lancashire, to all sorts of locations around London, treadmills and cross-trainers are among some of the equipment which is popping up over the UK.
I first heard about it when a friend, who is doing her uni placement for Bournemouth Council, said they were installing apparatus on the beachfront. So, today Jamie and I went for a light jog around Ealing (early evening so it’s still sunny but not overly busy!) and through the park where he was able to miraculously use assisted pull-up bars whilst I was nearby doing yoga stretches and ballet exercises. Somehow using gym equipment in the middle of a sunny park is so much more appealing than a stuffy gym!

2. Variety
For those who get bored easily, variation in the types of exercise is one way to engage yourself. Recently, along with my housemates Charley and Kate, I tried Bikram yoga for the first time in Bournemouth. It was tough, and we couldn’t stop giggling at the avid Bikram goers who seemed to make weird grunting noises throughout the warm-up! But the novel form of exercise has made us very excited about our next session.
This summer, I want to try more things such as pilates, pole dancing, Muay Thai kickboxing, as well as doing more classes in ballet and hip-hop. Variation means excitement. Excitement means you’ll engage yourself with exercise.

3. Clean eating
I’m about to say a cardinal sin to anyone who is a hardcore ‘clean-eater’ – clean eating looks very boring! I adore my big hearty evening meals and eating a plate of asparagus and plain chicken does not look appealing to say the least. One trick that has given me more of an affinity with clean eating, is the discovery of the local greengrocers. I may not have my mind on fruit when I walk there, but as soon as all the most beautiful range of fresh produce is there before me, I leave with big cuts of melon, punnets of strawberries and an entire bag of avocados.
I have no problem eating fruit and veg, but I do have a great downfall which is picking at chocolate late at night. I have now replaced that with nightly berries and already prepared slices of mango – only because of the gorgeous smells that have tempted me earlier in the greengrocers!

4. Gym
I have already mentioned earlier that I really do not like the gym. In all honesty, it bores me, and I do not see the point of paying for something that does that. However, most gyms are much more than just a gym. The Gym, for example, offers a wide variety of classes such as legs, bums and tums, Thai kickboxing and spinning which is included in the £17.99 a month price. Some gyms also have swimming pools which is another fantastic way to train without directly being inside a gym.

5. Protein shakes

Image

Mint chocolate flavoured protein shake = extremely delicious!

 

Again, as I have previously mentioned, I have never been into protein shakes due to not really understanding them. I thought they tasted disgusting and would just make me look like a petite body builder. This shake contains whey protein and BCAAs which help develop lean muscle. This basically means that when combined with exercise, it will help promote an athletic physique for girls and not necessarily mean you end up hench!
Myprotein.com has a fantastic range of very reasonably priced and effective supplements, including a section for female fitness which I have now bought some items from. Healthy diets always consist of a good breakfast to get the metabolism going – the meal which I find hardest to eat. Myprotein.com has a great product called MP MAX True Elle Diet, which is advertised as a good substitute for breakfast and comes in chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.

 

HAPPY EXERCISING EVERYONE! 

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Drug addiction – Gary Dyer – The doorman’s story

ImageCypress Hill ‘Hits from the Bong’ is the soundtrack to the setting of an East London flat. A few friends surround you, but in all honesty, your attention is not with them; it’s completely within yourself. Absolute tranquillity floods every inch of your body as you arrive at complete and utter solace. You ride on the enjoyment of what is going on inside you, whilst nothing else is happening around you. And at this point, I wonder how such a beautiful feeling as this described to me above can have such life destroying consequences. But then again, there is nothing ‘beautiful’ about drug addiction.

Gary Dyer is sitting next to me on a bench. It’s a gorgeous summer’s day and directly in front of us is the breathtaking view of Southbourne beach, just outside Bournemouth. He is recently 42; which almost marks the tenth year of his being entirely clean of drugs and alcohol. He wears a tank top that shows off an extremely muscular and healthy looking physique; which makes sense given his current job title as Doorman at Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club in Bournemouth.

Ignorance conjures up images of the stereotypical heroin addict’s back story: a tough and abusive childhood, neglect, poverty, depression, tragedy and thus heroin becoming the escape. Those expectations are soon disproved however.

“I had a great childhood. I was a very loved kid and absolutely no abuse!” Gary explains. “I grew up in Romford in Essex and came from a working class family. My parents worked really hard so my grandparents looked after us mostly.”

His grandparents, however, were deaf and dumb which he feels may be part of the reason he became disruptive as a child. “They couldn’t give me proper attention, so I started trying to get it wherever I could. I wasn’t good at school either,” he continues. “I didn’t like lessons or learning so I started showing this dysfunctional behaviour. I just wanted to be good at something and I wasn’t really.” It probably didn’t help that his brother, Bradley, who is 18 months older, showed success in sport and was involved in various semi-professional sporting clubs in the area.

By age 14, Gary had been expelled from school and soon embarked on a series of jobs with his father including working at various markets and in kennels, but none of them lasted long. It was at this time that he started experimenting with drugs such as smoking cannabis.

In 1986, by the time he was 16, Gary had found a job working in the local post office as a postal cadet. “There were older people there that I worked with who I really connected with and they accepted me. I felt like I had finally arrived,” he says fondly. “I made friends from all different parts of London and it was great! We used to all hang out together at the weekend.”

To put it into context slightly, this was all happening around 1987 to 1989, when illegal raves were in their hay-day and popping up all over the East London area.

“You have to understand, it was a proper drug culture at that time. We all lived for the weekend and the party drugs that came with it. We all got ‘things’ off each other,” Gary explains.

The standard procedure seemed to involve a £10-15 entry fee, followed by a drug and alcohol fuelled rave frenzy with friends that usually went on until noon the next day.

“We would take speed, acid, ecstasy to get that proper party buzz that lasted for hours and hours. We all looked to the weekend.”

And what happened when extra money was needed to fund these wild weekends? Evidently quite an elusive business came synonymously with the party culture Gary was experiencing. “We would sell pills in clubs. I could sell 100 pills a night of E, acid, speed, at around £15 a tablet.”

The party fever never ended and at age 20, Gary went to Tenerife. “I was like Danny Dyer’s character in ‘The Business’!” He muses. “Ah, I was living the dream. I would sell pills along Veronica Strip, sleep with different girls every night! The rave drugs progressed from every weekend, to every night. They were the proper fun days.” He pauses for a second, and makes a U-turn in the previously elated tone of conversation. “At that time, I didn’t know I had an illness. I was prone to addiction. There are still people I know who live for the weekend and for things that ‘fix’ you and make you feel good. It’s all about running away from real life and that’s your vice. Whether it’s food, or going to the gym or drugs.”

It was now the early 90’s and Gary had returned to the UK, where the party still hadn’t stopped. “It was like a rave epidemic in England in an era of party drugs. We all even went on a march in Trafalgar Square to make illegal drugs legal!”

Nevertheless, a more attractive invitation from old friends in Romford was soon to beckon the 23-year-old in the form of a new venture in Gran Canaria. “I knew things were getting out of control, but I wanted to prolong the party lifestyle. Some old friends called me and asked if I wanted to come and party whilst earning money. As soon as the opportunity came, I went out there.”

Now back in the Canary Islands again and selling pills to tourists to earn money, the excitement of the party drugs was beginning to wear thin. “The buzz was running out. I needed to try new things to get it back. I would go missing for ages to smoke crack with the locals. But that can be hallucinogenic and make you really paranoid. It was uncomfortable being that high.”

You ride on the high before returning to a vague sense of normality. For every up, there must be a down. But what if you’re so ‘up’, you completely lose sight of the down?

“I felt so erratic; I needed something to take that away. And the solution seemed to be heroin. I never once thought it would be an addiction. It’s an opiate; a painkiller and depressant. I was comfortably numb and mentally satisfied.”

A sudden flash of inspiration comes over Gary as well as a slight diversion from the severity of the heroin addiction creeping ever nearer in his life story. He rings Steve, a friend who he was with in Gran Canaria and also a recently recovering heroin addict. They both end up in a frenzy of laughter as they reminisce over the wildness of their six months there whilst Steve is on loud speaker.

“If in doubt, rob a Kraut!,” howls Steve. “That’s what we would do when we were short of money, knock out a German tourist and take his wallet – remember that Gary!”

“Oi Steve, remember this one; it was 6am and we needed gear. So we asked these locals who got us in the back of their van and drove 300 miles around that mountain. We were so high and paranoid thinking they were going to mug us, you were like “Gal, hold me gold, hold me gold!” I was like, I don’t want it!” By this time, everyone present in this conversation is laughing at the thought of two paranoid, high idiots screeching in the back of a van.

“Listen, Gary, have you heard from Tony?” The tone changes drastically as concern is very tangible in Steve’s voice.

“I had a missed call from him earlier. Why what’s wrong?” Gary replies with equal concern.

“I don’t know. I think something’s happened,” Steve says rather bluntly. The two finish their conversation abruptly but affectionately.

A very different feeling is present now as Gary rings another friend, Tony, who is currently undergoing his drug rehabilitation. A solemn voice answers the other end of the phone and a look of relief comes over Gary’s face. A very different conversation is had compared to the hilarity and fast pace of the previous one.

“Steve said you haven’t been in contact for a while?”

“Yeah…sorry. Listen, I’ve got my Secondary,” says Tony with vague detectable joy in his voice.

“That’s brilliant mate! Ah well done. I’m really proud of you.” Gary replies encouragingly.

Drug rehabilitation comes in stages, which follow a 12-step programme. The patient undergoing the treatment will initially participate in the Primary stage of rehabilitation (which includes detoxifying) and if successfully completed, will then be eligible for funding for the Secondary stage of rehabilitation, which includes meetings and therapy to help the recovering addict to remain clean.

“I think I want to buy my council flat you know, start a proper life.”

There is obvious disagreement in Gary’s face and he attempts to select a tone of voice both comforting and reassuring.

“You can’t think of that yet, Tone. You’ve got to build up from the foundations of your recovery. Get out of Essex and start a new life somewhere else, somewhere calmer. At least give it a chance, you can always go back to Essex if you hate it. I did that, I thought I’d hate Bournemouth and it would be boring. But I’ve been here eight years now and I don’t even look back. Keep going to meetings, I’ll come with you. But remember, Tone, we’ll never be millionaires financially. But we can be millionaires spiritually again.”

The phone goes dead. And so does the conversation for a minute or so. All that can be heard is the sea beating along Bournemouth’s coastline and the sounds of children playing down below on the beach.

“That’s the trouble,” Gary finally says thoughtfully. “You want everything back straight away when you’re recovering; money, stability. But you can’t. You have to just focus on being clean for the next 24 hours.”

He pauses again, deep in thought, and then shakes his head in disbelief. “He nearly lost his legs because he was injecting into his groin and now he wants to try and buy a flat! It’s too much. But I’ve been there, when you stop putting a drug into your system that’s been there every day for years and years, there’s a massive void that needs to be filled.”

After this tangent of both euphoric nostalgia between Gary and Steve, and the gravity of conversation between him and Tony also, we eventually return to the narrative of Gary’s life, and he is now 23 and back in the UK after a chaotic six months in Gran Canaria.

“I wasn’t addicted but I would obsess over heroin. I would hang around with people from Romford who were heroin addicts. I didn’t want them to know I wanted it so I’d ask them to let me try a bit and quickly I got into the cycle.”

He explains that, along with his newly acquired weekly wages on a Friday, he would buy heroin and smoke it on the foil. “I would be in these people’s flats Friday, Saturday, Sunday and very quickly those days became Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as well. After a month of doing that it’s pretty much in your system and suddenly I was addicted. I would wake up and need it.”

The chilling fact is it all sounds too easy. By age 24, without really realising it, Gary Dyer was addicted to heroin.

“From then on life was like Groundhog Day – get up, get some gear inside you to get going, get money to use more and more. Then do exactly the same thing day after day. That’s your life. People do it until they die because they don’t know a way out, and I thought that was it for my life now.”

Of course with an expensive addiction such as heroin, there’s the matter of where the money comes from. Understandably, it would seem inherently difficult to hold down a job whilst you are also addicted to a Class A drug.

“I was clever with the jobs I chose – doing nightshifts meant that you could get away with looking tired and not ‘with it’ because even the normal people looked like that on nights.”

Gary explains that in every job he had in the first few years of his addiction, he used heroin constantly. “On my breaks I would go out to the car, have a hit, and go back. I was on heroin the whole time.”

It’s hard to comprehend how someone on such a drug as heroin is able to hide their addiction so successfully. The stereotypical heroin addict would probably physically look as an addict would – extremely underweight, gaunt, unable to hold conversations or achieve any level of productivity. In reality, however, this isn’t always true.

The recent death of ‘Glee’ actor Cory Monteith who played Finn Hudson is a perfect example. He had been taking drugs since the age of 12 and died in July this year aged 31; of a toxic combination of heroin and alcohol. He had been addicted to the drug for years which included the whole time he had worked on the show, yet this was an almost unknown fact until his recent death in a hotel in Vancouver.

This appears to resonate with Gary’s story: “Every day from when I was 15 until I became clean when I was 32, and I mean every day, I had a drug in my body. Be it cannabis, ecstasy, ketamin, heroin. But I looked healthy all the time, I just ate crap to maintain a healthy weight and even though I lived with my parents they never knew what I was going through.”

That is the frightening truth that comes with addiction; if you know how to conceal it then it’s possible to keep it going without those around you suspecting anything, which can unfortunately have disastrous consequences.

As the addiction took its toll, Gary ended up without a job as a result of being unable to keep them down or simply not turning up because he didn’t want to. “Spearmint Rhino is the longest job I’ve ever had. I’ve been there eight years now!” He chuckles. And thus, the money for the heroin then started coming from shoplifting instead.

Just before he was 30, the quality of the heroin available was deteriorating, and this ended up being the reason his parents found out about his addiction.

“The heroin that was about wasn’t good so I started withdrawing. I was going cold turkey in my parents’ house. They locked me in a room for three days until I could go to rehab on the Monday. I was dry-retching and then I would just vomit and have diarrhoea at the same time; I was too weak to get to the bathroom. I was turning over mattresses and throwing them against the wall. It was awful, it broke them. I was like Renton in ‘Trainspotting’.”

Gary finally went into The Priory at age 30, which was paid for by a best friend he grew up with who had made it as a professional footballer. “I didn’t want to get clean then, I actually ‘used’ while I was in there,” he winces. “I met this Chelsea football director there and when we came out I went to live with him in this mansion in Surrey. He gave me a room, a job, cash, a car. But the obsession was still there. I ended up writing off the car he gave me whilst dropping off at the wheel due to using just before driving!” Gary laughs in almost disbelief at the thought of the memory.

“From there, it got to the point where I was like I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want this fear of getting up and having to get money to put more drugs in me. You can’t stop something like that for anyone but yourself. I tried doing it for my parents but that didn’t work. You have to want to do it for yourself.”

Surely, overcoming such an intrinsic addiction that has been your life for so long cannot be a simple case of mind over matter?

“People think it’s the drug, and it is. But it’s you who stops it. When I finally got to the point where I was like I have to stop. I went through every step of the recovery as I should and I became clean.”

After living with his friend in Surrey, Gary went to live in Nottingham for a short while before friends in Bournemouth persuaded him to complete his recovery there. The much slower pace of life ended up playing a major role in his recovery.

“I went to the meetings and dealt with my recovery. The 21st of September marks exactly ten years since I put any drug or alcohol in my body,” he says proudly.

“I started going to Spearmint Rhino and got friendly with the manager, Bob. He suggested that I should apply for my doorman’s badge and so I did.”

Gary has now been a doorman at the club for eight years. “You renew your badge every three years…and I will be renewing it for the third time next year… so yeah, eight years!”

Today, Gary boasts a fantastic physique due to his vice now being within the gym instead of drug addiction and endeavours to continue to help his friends who are in their respective recovery processes.

A turbulent life of heroin addiction and all that comes with it has ultimately produced a truly inspirational character. Hopefully he can instil optimism to other recovering addicts to come out as triumphantly as he has done.

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