πŸ’° Longest-serving member of Gamblers Anonymous talks to Simon Garfield | Society | The Guardian

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Meetings are the core of Gamblers Anonymous and we have meetings every day of the week throughout the UK. Why not go along to a meeting near you and.


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My life was very nearly at an end. One afternoon I was sitting on the stairs listening to him tell my mother that he would never gamble again, and then he left to see some patients, and I decided to follow him. She said that Gam-Anon was set up initially for the wives, but now it's for male partners and parents of gamblers as well. There were many practical and spiritual tips GA is a secular organisation , and at the back there was a table outlining a 'daily moral inventory'. There were some handwritten notes and old Gamblers Anonymous magazines in which Frank had written of his travels to GA groups throughout the country and Sara had put down some thoughts about Gam-Anon, the support group for partners of those in GA. I was shut out of the lounge, but I would sit on the stairs and I could always hear them. I don't know if I hurt him. Dan: The problem had been going on since I was born. I had gambled myself into the ground and I felt useless and helpless. We were expecting our third child, and Frank said one day he'd like to go to a bridge club. The meetings usually take place at the same time as GA. I was 15 or 16 at the time, he was in his car and I was on my bike. We still had a tiny car, which somehow hadn't been sold, and we went around in that, and Frank went to every patient and told them he was a compulsive gambler and he was doing something about it and eventually they'd get their money. I thought I could control it. One of his patients was a Savile Row cutter, so he got the great quality but at a friend's prices. There was also an orange booklet with many answers to frequently asked questions and a list of the 12 Step recovery programme familiar to members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over gambling - that our lives had become unmanageable. Sara: The first meeting of Gamblers Anonymous in this country was on 10 July There was a lot of coverage in the newspapers, and people who knew Frank was gambling got in touch with us. He was a really popular doctor. Frank said he would but didn't. He said it would entail going once a week for a couple of hours, and before a month had gone he was there three nights a week. She was eight years younger than me. He wrote that ever since he stopped gambling 'Every day is a holiday, and every night a honeymoon. Dan For a while with him it was mostly the dog track. They all listened to a man called Henry who had managed to give up his gambling in New York and had come over to Britain to share the experience and show it was possible. Sara: For the next three meetings he just couldn't sit down like the others in the room, he was constantly pacing. Dan is a successful businessman and writer with a teenage daughter. Every few months there would be this crisis, when we would be absolutely desperate for money. Sara: There were many times I threatened to leave with the children, and it almost happened in the summer of We were in our lounge, and Frank was pacing up and down like a wild animal, and my brother said to me, 'You know, you really can't go on like this. The meeting took place on a Friday, and on the Saturday morning every single person in that room phoned us up to say well done for coming and to give support. Every one of them. My brother said, 'Why don't you say to yourself that in four weeks you'll be leaving, and then in three weeks you'll be leaving, and that will make it a little easier for you to accept it. Frank: I went to the fourth meeting. The look of self-loathing in his face.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, the couple were visited by their son Dan, and they gathered in the lounge gambling anonymous uk their warm and comfortable flat not far from Oxford Street, in London's West End, to talk about things of which their neighbours are probably unaware.

I've known him for years, but I had never asked very much about his parents. On the other a list of assets for which to strive: self-evaluation, generosity, simplicity.

People would call up in the evening for advice, and occasionally the normal pleasant tone would be different, and I'd know that it was someone that had lent Dad cash and now wanted it back. We lived in East Acton, and his surgery was part of the house. Sara: At the end I kept a ledger of all the people we owed money to. They all promise. One of Frank's best friends, and also a patient, was a bookmaker, and he wanted Frank to go along. I graduated as a doctor in and during the war met my wife Sara in the Long Bar of the Cafe Royal. And he lost a lot of money. I had my last bet on 13 August Sara: In the following months I went around with him to all the people he owed money to. Ever since I was young I'd always liked a flutter, and there was a lot of gambling in my family. He'd pop out at 6. We just thought that he must hate us. I got there just as he reached the turnstile. Dan He was always immaculately dressed, always wore a bowler hat. There were about 85 names on it. By this time we had no other friends. My mother is and always has been an incredibly strong woman, although I doubt if she sees that in herself. The first thing I remember is the rows, the shouting at night that woke me up. The consistent tone in the literature she had brought was one of relief, and a few phrases would appear frequently. I'd never hit my father before. Dan said that his parents always hoped that others might benefit from what they went through. My father was a bookie's clerk. Sara made some tea and brought in a stack of papers. Before no one did. It is hard to remember now, 41 years down the road of recovery, just how much pain there was in those first 17 years of my life. I felt I owed it to my mother, so I ran up and said, 'You bastard! But he went straight through to the track. They would see something was wrong and say to me, 'Doctor, you look unhappy, what's the problem? She kept on pleading, "How can you say that you love me and still do this to us? My father isn't a violent man, but he punched the door of the bedroom and it came almost all the way through, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Frank: I was born in London, and I grew up in Glasgow. Frank: I used to go to the dogs. There were many crises. My father paid his debts, and of course he promised he would never gamble again. Frank saw how happy Henry was. I'd charm my patients. Perhaps initially she thought he'd been with another woman. But something from that meeting had got through to me. Everybody in the room was on a high. Sara: I think it really became a problem when he decided to take up bridge. Dan: We didn't know about the idea of compulsive gambling, or that it was an illness. Frank: The following Monday I was gambling again. My mother would be at the window waiting for his car to come up the road. A police officer was in the chair, he was a member. I think I knew exactly where he was heading - the White City dog track. And every single one of them then came out to me in the car, and I'd wind my window down, and they'd all say, 'Thank God. Maybe I was six or seven. That was in the early Fifties. Dan: Dad always said he'd been visiting patients, because this was in the days when GPs still used to do that. I'd never seen a man cry before. During one crisis she locked him in the bedroom so that he couldn't go out gambling that night. She has loved my father so much and for so long - it really is an amazing love story. Frank: When the casinos started in London I was out all night. One day I came into the bedroom and I found him crying. He said, 'I owe a lot of money,' and that's when he told me for the first time that he'd been gambling. Not long after I met them he sent me an email about them:. And he wanted the story of his parents to live on after they were no longer able to tell it themselves. On one side there were liabilities to be wary of: self-condemnation, envy, false pride. Sara In those days Frank handled all the bank accounts. He would come home at three in the morning, I would cause a huge scene, and of course that would give him the excuse he wanted to go out again. Then the casinos.