Gary’s Friends

 Gary’s Friends
 Photographs by Adrian Clarke
 ISBN 9780955575907
 West Pier Press

 Star rating 3/5

Photographer Adrian Clarke has produced a fascinating book documenting the lives of a community of drug users and their families.

Most of those portrayed are connected in one way or another to Gary Crooks, who was once an addict and dealer who took part in armed robberies.

Visually, the book never quite lives up to the promise of the marvellous cover image of Crooks. But this gripe could be described as a tad churlish since Crooks and his friends describe with brutal honesty growing up in the disintegrating communities around Durham.

It’s something social workers in ex-mining communities will recognise – and vividly brought to mind the three months I spent as a naive social work student in the drug-riddled communities surrounding the former south Wales Bargoed Colliery. The pictures offer us a fascinating insight into a Britain most of us are unfamiliar with – one that provides the intimate portrayal of how drugs can destroy individuals, families and communities.

Mark Drinkwater is a community worker in Southwark, south London

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