Backstop – The Whole Story

In case you missed any, here’s the whole story. Hope you enjoyed it.

I used to have a good job. I used to have a good life. A wife and kids, an expense account, credit cards, money in the bank and holidays abroad. We were going to buy a place in Spain, for crying out loud. Now all I’ve got’s the car and my one good suit.

I might as well be honest. I can do it now, it’s the first thing I say to people, like they teach you at the group: hello, my name’s Dave and I have a gambling problem. First your name and then your demon, like that Philip Pullman book where everyone has a daemon, though it doesn’t mean the same thing. But it was like gambling and me were one person, she drew me to her every time I had money, even if I was down to a fiver in my hand she’d take it from me and give nothing in return. But still I never learned.

I’m not stupid, I knew the odds were against me but somehow every time I thought I could beat them. I thought I had a formula, a trick nobody else knew. I think deep down it wasn’t about the winning, it was about the thrill, the risk, the chance that you might lose everything on one toss of a coin or one spin of the reel. I read something about Graham Greene once, that he used to get so bored he’d play Russian roulette. With a revolver. Probably left over after the war. I could never do that but it’s no different really, gambling. You’re putting a gun to your head every time, just banking on the chamber being blank.

It gives you a clear perspective, this. I couldn’t see anything clear before, I was always running around trying to cover my tracks, trying to keep it all from Jan, always doing sums in my head (if I pay this I can leave the mortgage till next month and then I’ll win it all back…) Cos it didn’t matter how much I lost, I was always going to win it all back and the more I lost, the more I was going to win. By the time I hit rock bottom I was going to buy us a bigger house and a villa in Spain too… how mad is that? Then one day I’ve got nothing left to gamble with, not even a quid, and the next thing I know I’m sleeping in my car.

I can’t blame Jan. I did at first, because I blamed everyone – everyone but myself, of course. But at the group you learn to see it as an illness. Yes, it’s your fault – well, not fault exactly, it’s your responsibility, you’re responsible for your actions – but blame doesn’t help, it’s about potential, your potential and how gambling steals that. It steals your life and now you have to take it back. Take back control, the guy kept saying. It felt good to hear that.

I can see everything clear now, I can see where I went wrong and I can see how society helped me to go wrong. I’m not saying society’s to blame but it’s everywhere, it’s like trying to lose weight with seeing chocolate everywhere which come to think of it, it is. Gambling’s everywhere too, it’s in the pub and the supermarket, even the corner shop sells lottery tickets and scratch cards and nowadays you don’t even need to leave home cos you can gamble on the internet. You can lose a thousand quid without getting out of bed. I had the app on my phone too with all the adverts and updates and notifications, it was nagging me constantly with offers, all hours of the day and night, no escape. Used to wake up in the night, have a pee and place a bet. Wait for the result, then you can’t sleep because you lost and you want to win it back. Or you won and you want to win some more – which you lose so you want to win it back. It never ends, it’s madness. One morning I lost five grand before breakfast, then I had to go down and face Jan and the kids knowing I’d lost all our holiday money. The kids used to love going to Spain. Every year we went, I was always telling them I’d get a house down there and I’d win the money and I’d be about to put the deposit on but I’d think, just let me win a bit more and then I’d lose it. Every time. You win, you lose, you tell yourself you’ll win it back and when then you’ll quit. But all you do is lose.

If it wasn’t for Jan I’d be on the streets now. It was her stepped in and saved my car, she didn’t have to. She’d have been within her rights to sling me out with nothing. I can’t blame her for anything, she was decent. But she said I’d have gambled the kids’ pocket money if I had to and what kills me is she’s right, I would have. Can you believe that? The kids’ pocket money. What kind of father am I? They’re better off without me.

Jan’s a legal secretary so she made sure the bailiffs did it all properly. She got the kids off to school, then she followed them round making notes and telling them what they could and couldn’t take. It took hours and all that time I just sat on the sofa, couldn’t find a single word to say. Then the moment they were gone she came in holding a bag and all she said was get out. And that was it, I took the bag with my stuff, just a few clothes, my one good suit and no credit cards cos they took all those. Then I got in the car and drove off.

I don’t know where I drove to. I must’ve had a full tank cos I was on the road for hours, it was only when people started flashing lights at me that I realised it’d got dark. I put on the lights and I didn’t know where I was. My phone was dead so I drove around for a bit and when I hit the sea I knew I’d ended up on the coast, near my grandparents’ house. The place I used to feel safe as a child. I pulled into the car park, cut the engine and sat for hours in the dark looking at the waves. Then I found a blanket and tried to sleep.

I woke at first light, sat and stared at the sunrise feeling numb with cold and shock. I couldn’t run the engine for long cos the petrol was getting low, so once I’d got the chill off I just sat. I don’t know what I was thinking or if I was thinking anything. From time to time I’d be saying things in my mind without even knowing what they meant. Things like it’s all over and you’ve done it now. Then I sat and thought about everything I’d done since it started, thinking back and back over the years of gambling, gambling and losing. I don’t remember the last time I cried, probably when Villa won the cup or something but I cried my eyes out there in the car with the sun coming up, sitting all alone in the car park, I wept like a child. Then I realised it was just a couple of yards to the edge and I could put the car in gear and take the brake off, just roll over into oblivion. I didn’t, I don’t know why. I just didn’t.

I must’ve fallen asleep again cos when I woke I badly needed a pee. I got out and walked around; the toilets were locked, no sign of when they’d open. Or if. So I went behind a bush and came out to find a man looking suspiciously at the car. Trying to look like someone normal, someone out for an early morning stroll, I wandered up.

‘Bit nippy, isn’t it?’ I said, trying to sound cheerful, then I got in the car and drove off. I didn’t look at him, I didn’t wait for him to speak, I just left. There were lots of moments when it hit me but that was the worst one, the moment I felt like an outcast, a criminal almost. Someone not fit to associate with normal people. That was the moment when it hit me. I’m homeless.

I don’t know what I’d have done without the group. I don’t get to see the kids much though Jan lets me say hello sometimes after school, and there’s a chance I could arrange to meet them at a contact centre (that’s what they call it, it’s a sad place but better than some godforsaken McDonald’s). I miss them so much it’s a constant ache. I’ve asked Jan for some photos and she gave me a whole album – I can’t say she’s behaved badly. She’s not vindictive, she’s just had enough. I can’t blame her.

I’ve still got my phone though I’ll probably have to sell it soon, get a burner. Make sure I keep all the numbers I need, write them down before I forget. I forget so many things nowadays, you do when you don’t have a routine. Forget to eat, forget to sleep, forget to wash. You have to make yourself do everything, it’s so hard. But it’s my own fault. No-one to blame but me.

Gets so cold at night. I can’t afford to run the heater and anyway people get suspicious, reckon you for a kerb-crawler or a drug-dealer. I have to find somewhere out of the way and nine times out of ten as soon as I find a spot somebody discovers me and I have to move on, pretend I just fell asleep and I’m on my way home.

Home. That’s barred to me now. It’s a word I can’t use any more. I don’t know if I’ll ever have another home.

I guess I’ve always liked living life on the edge. That’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, soon as I’m safe I get bored. Like Graham Greene except I’d never point a gun at myself, I’m not that desperate. I’m lucky even having a car but I live in fear of it breaking down and the MOT’s coming up soon. Then there’s the insurance and as soon as the tax comes due you have to pay it else the police know, it’s all on computer now. Even the traffic wardens can check on you.

It’s a cold, hard world, this. And winter’s coming.

Sometimes I think, what if all this hadn’t happened? What if, that first time, I’d walked away, not bet on the machines, just left it all alone? I’d be with Jan and the kids now. I try to imagine myself back there, owning that house outright cos I didn’t remortgage it or being able to go to Spain cos I didn’t lose the money for our holiday home. I can do all that but when I try and imagine my life without gambling, I can’t.

I need help.

You have to know that, you have to hit rock bottom, and just at that moment when I was looking, not just pretending but really looking, actually desperate, I did a search on my phone and I found it. The Group. Meeting tonight. So I locked up the car and walked down to the community centre, then I sat down and when it came to my turn I said, just like I’d been waiting all my life, I said, ‘My name’s Dave and I have a gambling problem.’

Admitting you’ve got a problem is like opening a door on a long, dark corridor. It all looks really black but it’s like one of those systems where the lights come on as you’re walking down, not too bright but just enough to see where you’re going. You want to rush back, get back into that room with all the flashing lights and the TVs, the room where everyone’s happy to see you, the room where you feel better, where it’s all smiles and free drinks till you lose your money and then it’s bye bye… unless… unless you’d like a little top-up? No biggie, just a little help to tide you over, and you agree because you’re going to win it all back, any second now, so you nod and it’s just sign here, give us a bit of info, a little bit of security, that’s all. Security for them, not you because once you start gambling there’s no backstop, there’s no safety net, no bottom to the pit, no solid ground and before you know it, you’ve lost so much there’s nothing else to take because they’ve already taken the house, the marriage, the children, the job, everything. Your whole life, gone, just like that.

It’s hard. You have to take a scalpel and cut deep into yourself, you have to ask yourself, How did it start? Why did I do it? Why didn’t I stop, why couldn’t I stop? What you have to understand, it’s all down to psychology – the psychology of the individual. Once you understand that, it’s like a sort of enlightenment, a road to Damascus thing. Frank says it’s like mourning for the life you could have had. He’s a clever bloke, he’s got a way with words.

Can’t admit it though, can’t tell them I’m sleeping in the car. I say I’m sofa-surfing. I wish it was true, wish I could sleep on someone’s sofa but no-one’ll have me cos they’re all on Jan’s side. I can’t blame them.

Truth be told, I’m ashamed. I never understood it till now, how folks could be ashamed of being poor and having nothing. It’s not just that, I have to go cap in hand to Jan for everything, money for food, petrol, everything I need. I don’t feel like a man any more. But it’s my fault. She says if she ever finds out I’ve spent it on gambling that’s it, I can starve and I don’t argue because I know she’s right, she’s right about everything and it seems to me it doesn’t matter what I do in the whole of my life, there’s no way I can ever make it up to her. Cos the way I was going to make it up, I was going to win all that money back and now I’ll have to get a job and with my history I’ll be lucky to be able to rent somewhere small. Bye bye hopes and dreams. All sunk beneath the waves, all drowned.

I haven’t even told Jan about the group. I don’t wanna jinx it, don’t want to say anything till I’ve made progress, got a job and a place to live. Maybe then she’ll let the kids come and stay. But you never stop needing that help. So even when I’m ready to move on, I know I’ll never get back together with her. I’ve accepted that.

Once a gambler always a gambler. You’re an addict same as any other, you can be in recovery but it never goes back to how it was. If I could I’d turn the clock back to that first time I played the machines, I’d just walk out of there, say no thanks I’ll keep my money, bye bye. But you can’t. You can never go back.

Some nights I try to remember, when I’m sat in my car with a blanket over me and the radio on low, I try to recall how it was before I made my first bet. I don’t know what it was, but one minute I took no notice of the fruit machines, the next they were like sirens calling to me. My friends got pissed off with me being antisocial but the more they went on at me the more I did it. They said there was no point inviting me out; I said look, I’ve earned enough for a round of shorts and they said we’d rather have your company. So I took them all out for a curry but it didn’t help because I got morose by then because I’d spent all my money for the week, but I still couldn’t stop. So they stopped hanging out with me. After that it was the horses, there was always something new. There’s not one type of gambling I haven’t tried, except the Stock Exchange but they don’t call that gambling do they? It is though. I studied form, told myself I was learning a trade, like an apprentice. I thought I’d be a millionaire – once I got it right.

I gave up once I got together with Janine. I told her all about it, I said I used to play the fruit machines but I stopped. I said, it’s because of you and she said make sure you don’t go back, so we can save. And I did, I honestly did. I quit for five years, not one flutter, not one coin in the machine. Then one day after Julio was born, I don’t know, I just felt that itch. I know it’s stupid but I wanted to provide for him properly. My job never paid that much and the younger ones used to get all the promotions and it pissed me off so one day I just snapped and I bought a scratch card and that was it. I was back.

I can’t figure it out, I’ve tried and tried. They say some people have an addictive personality but I don’t know if that’s me. I just don’t know what my problem is.

It’s as if a little voice in me just says, why not? Go on – you might as well, as though it doesn’t matter, as though nothing matters. There’s a sort of demon takes me over, a kind of the hell with it, a bloody-mindedness, and the one thing that in the whole of my life I never want to do again, I just go and do it. It’s like – I dunno if this makes sense, but it’s like I do it because it’s the one thing I don’t want to do. I know that sounds mad.

It is mad.

Most days I wake up and see the front seat of the car and it feels like I’ve been kidnapped and taken on a journey somewhere I don’t want to go. This thing, this addiction, it’s too big for me. That’s what they tell you at the group and everyone nods because we’ve all been there, we’ve all come to that point of realising you can’t fight it, not on your own.

Any addict will tell you just how much energy it takes, every single day of your life. It’s like giving up heroin, sometimes I literally get the shakes, but even in my worst moments I know I’ll never go back there. Once you’ve hit rock bottom, that’s it. No more.

I used to be a sales rep, travelling around the Midlands. I was a good salesman but nowadays they’re all younger and the targets are harder and you’re not given the support. You just get in your car and get on with it and if you want to make a living you have to chuck out all your morals, just throw them out the window like some lout throwing litter, tell the customer whatever, anything to get them signed up. I’m glad I don’t do that now.

I haven’t told anyone I’m sleeping in my car. Too ashamed. I should probably tell the guys at the group and sometimes I try but I can’t get the words out. Maybe if I can get Frank on one side I could tell him. Maybe. But the effort, it’s like crossing a chasm. It was hard enough saying my name’s Dave and I have a gambling problem. If I tell them I’m sleeping in my car that sets me apart from the rest.

Doesn’t it?

I don’t know, maybe some of them might be homeless or sofa-surfing too but I can’t ask. I know Frank won’t say anything but I can’t risk it. This is the only place in the whole of my life where I feel at home, so I carry on coming every week and I don’t say anything. I still go down to the library and the job centre, look for jobs. Jan’s very decent, lets me use the address still, texts me when there’s any post. She leaves it behind the bin but it’s mostly junk, stuff I don’t need. It makes you tired.

I’m still hoping for that elusive interview where I can put on my suit, my one good suit that’s hanging up in the car. It looks more down-at-heel every morning, just like me. But it’s not a good reference is it, being fired for gambling with the firm’s money? Would you hire me? I wouldn’t. Then one day I got a lucky break.

I’d just done another fruitless job search in the library and wanted a coffee to perk me up. I don’t often frequent cafes, not nowadays, but it’s so hard to keep going without all the little perks, all the things I used to take for granted – like a bottle of wine with dinner, a cappuccino when I wanted it. A night out. Anyway.

I like this cafe, it’s a bit down-at-heel but it’s clean and they don’t judge people. I know I look rough sometimes, if I’ve not found anywhere to shower or shave – people don’t realise how hard it is to keep decent when you sleep in your car. I used to have a gym membership, could have gone there for a shower but they stopped that the day the bailiffs came, took all my cards off me. I’m cash only now. I’m ashamed even to go to the doctor’s but what with the cold nights drawing in it’s only a matter of time… Anyway, I was nursing a cappuccino and thinking these gloomy thoughts when a guy comes up. Youngish, smart-casual, laptop in a bag. Not the usual type you get in here especially since there’s no internet. He stops by my table. ‘Anyone sitting here?’ he asks. I’m a bit surprised cos the cafe’s not that full but maybe there’s a reason he wants to sit there (I’m right about that.) He orders a latte and a sandwich, gives me a smile and opens his laptop. I’m wondering how he’s going to get internet in here but maybe he’s just writing something – a novel, perhaps. Bit improbable but you never know. Then he looks up, glances at me and then away, as though he wants to say something but isn’t sure. I give him a smile and it feels strange; I realise it’s a long time since I’ve smiled at anyone. I sure as hell don’t smile at my reflection.

He goes back to his work but then a moment later he looks up again. ‘Sorry,’ he says, ‘I don’t mean to be rude but I was just wondering…’ he pauses a minute, like he’s a bit embarrassed.

‘Yes?’ I say.

‘It’s just that you don’t seem like the usual type of person who comes in here.’

Nor do you I thought, but I didn’t say so. I didn’t know what to say really.

‘It’s just that – ‘ he hesitated again.

‘Go on.’

‘Like I say, tell me to piss off if I’m out of order. But you look like a man who can do better.’

‘Well. I used to,’ I admit.

‘Ah.’ He sits back a moment. ‘It’s just that I’m recruiting for a company. I’m not from round here and normally we have procedures, but – I don’t know, something about you took my eye.’

Well, I wasn’t born yesterday and normally I’d have run a mile – but these were not normal times. Or maybe I just wanted to take a chance on something. ‘What company is it?’

‘Well, we make all sorts. But what we’re really after is sales people.’

‘I used to be in sales,’ I say, and his face lights up. ‘No! Really?’

I nod.

‘I knew there was a reason I came in here this morning. I was right, wasn’t I, to speak to you?’ He seemed so hesitant, so in need of reassurance, that I couldn’t help myself. ‘Of course,’ I said. ‘Tell me more about the job.’

He stretched out a hand. ‘I’m Jon. J-O-N, no H.’


‘Right. To business – but first, let’s get some more coffees here. And maybe a sandwich?’ He’d finished his lunch and I didn’t know where mine was coming from so of course I nodded. In the end he got me a panini with salad and insisted on us both having cheesecake for afters. It was the best meal I’d had in a long time.

I’m not stupid. I’m really not – but a man can only take so much, so when he offered me the chance of a job I took it. ‘You’ve got your own car of course?’ was his parting shot, and I nodded. At least I could say that. It’s a decent car too and thankfully all paid for so the bailiffs couldn’t take it. Tools of your trade, they’re not allowed to take those. Course, I’d got fired the next day but I still got to keep the car, and now it was going to come into its own. I wouldn’t need the group any more, I could get myself on my feet, get a flat, have somewhere to take the kids. They could stay the weekend. Then I got a text from Jon.

‘Orientation. Tomorrow 10 am sharp.’ Then there was a link; I clicked on it and it took me to a hotel in London. London! How the hell was I going to get to London? I didn’t have petrol to see me as far as Coventry. In the end I swallowed my pride and phoned Jan, told her I’d got a job interview and needed to get the train. She asked a lot of questions and reiterated the usual if I find you’ve been gambling threats but in the end she transferred the dough. That woman is a hero. She deserves better.

Looking back now I can say this, I can look myself in the eye and say: this was gambling. It wasn’t the fruit machines and it wasn’t the casino but it was gambling all the same. I knew I’d lose – I’d known it right from the start but still I swallowed the bait. And the next day I was on the 8.15 to King’s Cross. I could walk to the hotel from there.

I’d never realised how many dodgy hotels there are in walking distance of King’s Cross. I’d been picturing somewhere plush and fancy, a big conference room all wired up, lots of whizzy graphics and – hell, I don’t know what I was imagining but it wasn’t this place. It looked like the sort of dive that rents rooms by the hour. But I’d taken Jan’s money – I couldn’t let her down now.

There was no-one at reception, just a screen. I had to search for ages before I found what I was looking for; my meeting was on the sixth floor so I got into an ancient lift which creaked slowly up there. The carpets had seen better days but I found the room all right, the door half-open and voices coming from inside. I looked for Jon but he was nowhere around, just a few lost-looking guys in suits; guys like me. And then it started.

It was the fruit machines all over again. You can go in the most down-at-heel pub ever but once the flashing lights catch your eye you could be at the Ritz. The guy walked in, introduced himself and said casually, ‘Shall we sit down?’ like we were just going to have a friendly chat. We’d all got cups of coffee and we sat at small tables, like in a casino. He was just an ordinary bloke in a suit like the rest of us, but as soon as he opened his mouth I was hooked. He said, ‘three years ago I was sleeping in my car’ – I really sat up and listened at that – ‘and one day I struck lucky. I got an opportunity – and I took it. Last year I earned a hundred thou; this year I hope to double it.’ He didn’t say it like a salesman, that was the thing. He wasn’t some slick American guy, he was just ordinary, humble even. He sounded a bit like Frank, now that I think about it. Like a sort of therapist.

He didn’t say much about the job but I never thought about that at the time, I just warmed to him. Then as soon as he was done another guy came in; he didn’t introduce himself, just scrawled his name on a flip chart. It looked like Simon something but who knows. Then he started firing questions at us. What were we doing with our lives? Where did we see ourselves in three years time? Did we really want success? Did we have what it took? Were we winners or losers? If we were in the army he’d be the sergeant major and it was rough but we took it because it was medicine; it’d make us better, clean us up, make us successful, winners instead of losers, big guys who could command a room and fire questions at people. He wasn’t a nice guy but he made you want to do your best, to impress him. When I looked around everyone was sitting up straight and tall.

We had some exercises to do, role play and stuff, and then it was lunch time. I’d hoped they’d have put something on but the Sergeant Major left the room sharpish saying ‘back here at one,’ so it seemed like we were on our own. I just found a corner shop and got a bag of crisps. Perhaps there’d be more biscuits later. As I strolled back I swear I was walking taller, feeling stronger. I’d be out of that car in no time, put a deposit on a flat, get some decent clothes. Take the kids to Spain…

I guess you know where this is heading. They got us all fired up with how much we could earn, then they took us one by one into a side office to ‘vet us.’ Course, by this time we’d have said anything to get on the programme – even though we still didn’t know much about what we were selling or how the operation worked. They said we’d learn all that on the job; anyway there wasn’t a lot of time for questions. But I knew, deep down, what it was all about.

When it was my turn the two guys were there, the first guy and the sergeant major plus a third man who didn’t say anything, just watched like he was the big boss sizing you up. They asked if I was committed. I said yes. They said how committed? I said all the way, I said I really want to do this, I know I can make it. I could hear myself and a little part of my mind was thinking what an idiot I sounded but I didn’t listen. So in the end it was, how much are you willing to put in to make this work? And I said, I’ll work all the hours god sends. I don’t mind hard work (that’s true, by the way – I know I ruined everything but aside from that I was a hard worker.) That’s good, they said, but what about a little extra? I said, how do you mean? and they said, what will you be prepared to stake on your future? and I said do you mean money, because I don’t have any. And something made me blurt out, ‘I have a gambling problem. I got fired from my last job.’ It was like, I wanted to be totally up front with them, you know? Make a clean start. And they all smiled, even the boss guy who didn’t say anything, and the first guy said, ‘Don’t worry about that. Everything’s going to be all right now.’ Course, after that I’d have done anything so then they got out a bit of paper and said, ‘You need some investment to start, but don’t worry, we’ll advance you some against your first sale. You’re going to make millions – I can feel it.’ I’d come too far to turn back now: I signed.

You already know how this goes. I lost the car. They even took the suit with it – and now I have nothing.

The hostel’s not too bad. It’s clean and they’re really down on any drug dealing, one strike and you’re out. No excuses, no arguments. I thought the others might not talk to me, I thought they might think what’s he doing here? but you get all sorts, all walks of life. There’s one guy who’s even supposed to be a Lord though I’m not sure I believe that – but one thing you learn is, it can happen to anyone. Me, I feel like I deserve this because of the gambling, because I could’ve stopped and I didn’t, but there’s guys in here just had bad luck. They lost their job and couldn’t get another or their house was flooded and the insurance wouldn’t pay up or their wife walked out and took everything. I used to think society was reasonable, that everyone got a fair crack of the whip. I don’t think that any more.

Everyone wants the same thing – to get out of here, to get our own place, a roof over our heads and our own front door. Graham – that’s the warden – says I’m a good candidate for help, but first I gotta help myself. I know it. Hardest thing I ever did was go back to the group, after I’d left, after I’d told those guys I didn’t need them any more cos I’d got a job and was going to make a million. No wonder they were all so quiet – they knew. They knew how it’d end cos they’d been there. But when I walked back in there was no murmur of surprise, no sarcastic comments, no gloating, not a bit. Hardest thing I ever did was walk back in that door and you know what they did? They clapped. Yep, I got a round of applause. After that I sat down and told them the full story – everything. How I’d been sleeping in my car before but I was ashamed to tell them, how I’d been conned by these guys but I should have known better, how they’d taken the car and the suit and how I couldn’t face going back to my wife after I’d borrowed money. How I was in a hostel now. These guys, they listened, they nodded, they looked me in the eye like a brother, and then when I’d finished and Frank said ‘thanks Dave’ in his quiet voice like he really meant it – and then, you know what happened? Jude – he’s never spoken before – said, ‘I wanna thank you for saying that Dave because I’m sleeping in my car too.’ I nearly fell off my chair and then someone else said they’d been sleeping in their car too but now someone’s lent them a caravan. All this time I’d been imagining that everyone else was doing so much better than me but they weren’t. It made me glad I’d spoken up.

This story isn’t over. I’m not there yet but I’m on my way, I know I am. I’ve got a support worker now, guess what his name is? Jon. J-O-N, no H. Jon says so long as I keep on going to the group it won’t be long before he can get me a place, and once I have a place I can get on my feet, he can help me claim benefits and then I can get a job. It won’t be much, I know that, but I’ll do anything so long as it helps me survive. It’s been a long hard road but I can say this now. I can say it out loud:

My name’s Dave and I have a gambling problem.

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