• Ben Westwood

My life in photos - Part 3

#Brighton #busking #musicians #music #homelessness #fatherhood #careleaver #cep #bracelets #beads #handmadejewellery #handmadegifts #gamblingaddiction #problemgambling #campaigning #activism #makingmusic #musicproduction #electronicmusic #psychedelictrance #trancemusic

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Oh the Brighton day's were something great though. I always say to people in their early twenties of how great it is to get out into the cities for a bit, experience different cultures and mingle among the dreamers, creatives and artists.

If you've not been to Brighton, it's definitely worth checking out. It's one of the most diverse and liberal places I've ever lived in in the UK bar London. They do call it 'Little London' by the sea mind.

A place where artists, dreamers, creatives and party people straight or gay mix alike. Quite refreshing to see people being themselves actually, and kinda feels like your in some sort of European city when you see so many lesbians and gay fellas holding hands.

When times were rocky for me in Brighton, I wouldn't always tell my friends, I kinda felt I didn't wanna be a burden. Sometimes I'd go to a place called 'The Clocktower Sanctuary' which was a real help whether I just wanted to rest for a short while, or eat some food when I was skint. The volunteers there were lovely and some of them still friends to this day.

Here's a gig I played for a charity event with them, at The Brunswick Pub in Brighton. Nice evening that was.

Despite the tough times, and things not always going in the direction that I'd hoped for - when things really did feel like I was at rock bottom, there was now someone ever so special around that reminded me that there was no turning back on life and that I had everything to live for.

I was lucky to meet some good sensible souls that did their best to help me with somewhere to crash when they could. I was still struggling back then to get everything I needed to open a bank account or get some sort of help with getting my own place to stay. Not having references or a guarantor was a major setback for me and so often a constant source of disappointment.

With Brighton being a place so many want to live at anyway, it was always going to be difficult.

It was indeed tiring though, not like the days of being a child runaway when I could stay up for weeks on end until I'd collapse. Not at all.

Being a male in his early twenties that wants nothing less than to make something of his life and be able to build one was frustrating.

I did my best though, and for most early part until I moved in with some friends, I was paying each night for a backpackers hostel, which I was extremely lucky to do having no photo ID at the time.

Sometimes you need one thing to need the other, and if you can't prove who you are, along with simply trying to survive this can be extremely difficult, especially if you're sort of out there on your own.

Even though I didn't make much money generally (it was great when you smashed it!), busking was a saving grace. Not only because it meant sometimes I'd get enough for a sandwich, or a bed for the night, but because I love to sing. Not everyone gets to both live in hardship and pursue their passions, so for that I am extremely lucky. Thank you music!!

Here's some snaps from me busking in the Brighton Pavilion gardens which was a lovely spot. If you look closely, I'm also wearing the bracelets which were first known as 'Ben's Beads' for the first few runs.

It was great to meet Phillip Bedford whom popped down to The Clocktower Sanctuary for Sports Relief.

Massive thanks to him for taking me around Brighton to do some professional photography.

As you can see in some of the below images, he's really captured some of the great things I got from busking, and with Brighton being Brighton, it was often good times.

Sorry for the pork advertising here, I actually don't eat anything that had legs.

Great photos, thanks Philip.

It was during my time in Brighton, having never been in a bookies in my life, that I once went in after two friends I had decided to go into one to play roulette on our way to somewhere. Oddly I kept winning, it wasn't much but the next week I found myself there again to keep out of the rain, and won £500 after putting just two or three pounds in. I became instantly addicted.

After realising I had a chronic addiction to playing roulette, I managed to break free for a while. However, when I discovered one of my family members had cancer I sent myself onto self-destruct mode and was foolishly back in the bookies for a few weeks before having not another breakdown, but a breakthrough.

I had come to become conscious of my flat feelings, loss of self and delusional gambling thoughts and began researching 'inner conflict'. I began to find out how winning the £500 surprisingly had created a permanent new neurological pathway through the huge surge of dopamine I had unknowingly experienced during the whole process. These are the basic foundations of addiction, and although some of you may have been educated enough to know this unfortunately a lot of people such as myself were never given this critical information growing up.

After seeing other in betting shops with their heads in their hands frustrated that they had just put all of their money in the machines, or those that got aggressive with swearing, cursing and punching the machines, I said back then that it was only a matter of time before someone innocent had got hurt because of a gambler in a betting shop. Unfortunately I was right, and a few years later an old lady was killed near a betting shop somewhere in the UK.

I began sharing my education on the streets, setting up a table with information and starting petitions to not have betting shops all over our high streets. Brighton's Radio Reverb had me on talking about it too.

These early days of activism were what would a couple of years on become the 'Neuroliberation campaign', but more on that later.

I had some good friends from Brighton, a couple of them moved over to Chichester. They asked me to feed their cats and water their plants when they were away one time, and whilst learning how to use a Mac computer for the first time, I had quite a productive few days making 'We Are Born' and 'Without You' which I never got the chance to fully mix and master but I still enjoy the odd listen from time to time. Not bad for a first time attempt at using 'Logic' i think.

I also changed my bracelets business name from 'Ben's Beads' to 'Laughing Beader' and used the 2nd below image as part of the logo using photoshop for the first time by morphing an image of the Laughing Buddha.

I also went on to use this for a psychedelic trance music project which I've just re-released onto my Bandcamp page.


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