How to get ahead in writing. The business of self.

writing screenwriting author publishing film self-publishingOf the numerous emails that land in my inbox, a good number involve the issue of advice.

Occasionally, these mails are of the kind which suggest various things to do to myself that are anatomically impossible (which merely proves that women do indeed have a quite nasty side to them) but in the main, they are asking for advice on writing or making that leap from the laptop to the shelves of Waterstones or the screens of Cineworld.

Given that I never set out to be a writer of any kind -as many people have pointed out!- I have often wondered why that is. After all, I am not and probably never will be either a Booker Prize winning novelist or an Oscar winning screenwriter, and whilst I enjoy what I do and always put in 110%, the truth is that I am definitely not one of those people who are driven to write. Make no mistake, the day that my 6th lottery number pops out of that machine is the day I’ll have typed my last letter and from that point on, life will revolve around doing as little as possible!

I suspect the answer lies in the fact that unlike many other authors I am reasonably easy to contact but there have also been occasions when there has definitely been an element of ‘if he can do it, so can I so I might as well ask him how he did it’. To be honest, I have no problem with that largely because there is indeed a degree of truth in it. I’ve always been happy to admit that I did indeed ‘luck’ into writing and I although I have done better than many so-called ‘established’ writers in terms of both output and sales (you’d be surprised how few books some of these apparently successful authors actually sell) I most definitely have no delusions about my position on the Great British literary ladder. As someone once suggested, it is firmly in the ‘bungs on the feet at the bottom’ category.

However, to return to the point, as long as someone has taken the trouble to write to me, I have always responded. Not simply because I think I should but because I hope that one day someone I set on the rocky road of penmanship will strike it big and I’ll get to appear on some kind of TV show celebrating their literary achievements. Let’s face it, chances are that’ll be the only way I manage it!

But recently, a few things have happened which have started to make me wonder about the wisdom of such a policy. Not because I have suddenly started to think that being helpful is a bad idea, but because increasingly, I am being contacted by people who have asked me very specific questions. Usually involving the names and contact details of agents, publishers and even TV producers.

To be fair, many of these requests have come from American authors looking to break into the UK market rather than from ‘newbies’ looking to get a foot in the door but having worked in the ‘creative’ world for some time now, I have learnt two very important lessons.

First, contacts are everything and second, the most valuable currency of all are ideas. Which is why both are much sought after and even occasionally stolen. Indeed, I could tell you some stories about certain people, but I best not.

However, the fact remains that whilst I have become (almost) used to the gut-wrenching feeling of being shafted by people who work in the TV and film industry, I am now starting to feel the same way about writing and that has to stop. If only because it eats into my time and therefore costs me money.

So whilst I will happily continue to help anyone who is trying to break into publishing or anything else for that matter, I am no longer so receptive to requests from anyone who has ever earned a penny (or a cent) from their writing. Unless of course any kind of reciprocal arrangement or better still, a fee is involved!

Pondering this last night, the thought struck me that rather than upset 50% of the population with another diatribe about women and/or football, it might be a good idea to use this blog to offer up a bit of advice to those looking to set out on the rocky road of penmanship for the first time. It is the same advice I use as the basis of every talk I ever give on writing and is based on six very basic rules which come in a very strict order.

1.   If you cannot take criticism, do NOT write for public consumption. No matter how good a writer you think you are, at some point, you will have to show your work to someone else be it a partner, friend, agent or publisher.

Trust me, no matter how good a writer you are, sooner or later someone is going to come back with a negative response and it hurts. Some can take it, others can’t. The key is to take all criticism as constructive and learn from it.

But if you think it’s bad when you first start out, wait until the presses have rolled and the reviews begin. Any author who says they never read their reviews is a bloody liar and whilst I’ve been lucky enough to have some awesome ones in my time (‘The best book ever written on football hooliganism’ Daily Mail) I’ve also had some horrors. The worst being simply ‘Yeah right. Now fuck off.’ courtesy of Time Out.

The fact that both of these were for the very same book proves many things and whilst the initial inclination following a bad review is to either hang yourself or track down the offending individual (I took the latter course of action with Time Out but that’s another story) the simple truth of the matter is that they are just one persons opinion. But as any publisher will tell you, any review is better than no review and that is very true.

2.   Write what you know. It is an old adage and the source of much discussion in writers circles but to me, it is absolutely spot on. Not only does it save on research time, but if you know the subject well, it will come across on the page. Conversely if you don’t, you will spend all of your time having to deal with people who will take great delight in pointing out your mistakes (see above!)

3.   Join a local writing group. You might think they are full of geeky nerds or middle aged women seeking to fill their time (and to be fair, some are) but a good one can provide huge amounts of advice and encouragement. A great one can make you a great writer.

Never forget, getting into print is incredibly difficult and so the more advice you can obtain from people who are at the coal face or who have been through it, the better.

4.   Never write to get rich. Very few (and I mean, VERY few) published authors earn a living wage from their work. The days of huge advances for first time authors are long gone folks. And don’t think screenwriting is well paid either.

OK, if you’ve got a decent track record and a good agent you should do pretty well but I still receive emails every week offering me opportunities to write spec scripts (that’s for free) and once had a very well known film producer offer me £500 to write a script from scratch. Obviously I told him to f**k off but someone else took the job within days and no, it didn’t ever get made.

There is only really one reason to write and that’s because you want to do it. If it’s good enough, everything else will follow. How you can make that happen however, is an entirely different blog!

5.   Write, write, and write. It’s a fairly obvious thing to say but the more you write, the easier it becomes. It’s a skill and it needs constant honing.

And finish everything you start. You might know it’s rubbish from the end of the first chapter but trying to turn it into something half decent is a great exercise and fabulous experience. There is also the very real chance that as you are working, something will click into the creative box in your brain which you will be able to use on something else.

One other point I will make here, in my opinion there is no such thing as writers block. As far as I am concerned it’s a myth that was invented by writers to cover up laziness or lack of creativity. If you get stuck, it’s simply because your idea doesn’t work and you should have worked that out at the planning stage anyway.

6.   Most importantly of all, enjoy it! It’s supposed to be fun you know and if it isn’t, why bloody do it?

So what are you waiting for?

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpool I desperately need to do some work on my Amazon author page  this page, primarily by adding some new titles to it! So I’m happy to pass on news that there will be at least one new book coming in 2018! That’s assuming I can finish this bloody script I’m currently working on.

In the meantime, you can buy all my existing books, including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog from either Amazon or iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

 
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Dear Labour Party… An open letter from a non-supporter.

labour, tory, lib-dems, electionAs you seemingly haven’t noticed, the last four attempts to get a vote of confidence in your party have resulted in the delivery of something of a kicking by the British electorate.

The most recent being yesterdays local government elections where traditionally, the party in opposition (that’s you apparently) have done quite well.

Inevitably, both the mainstream press and social media are currently full of how it all went horribly wrong for you yet as far as I’ve seen, no one has had the balls to call it as really it is, or at least how we non-Labour supporters see it.

So, as a 59-year-old bloke who has never voted Labour and probably never will, I thought I’d let you know why with a few simple bullet points which may or may not help.

  • One of the most important things you have to understand, and which a majority of your supporters seem incapable of grasping, is that calling people idiots, stupid or racist just because they don’t agree with you is counter productive.
  • Your supporters can scream, shout and protest all they like but unless you recognise that the silent majority are silent for a reason, you’re never going to get anywhere. UKIP might be finished as a political force but they cracked it when it needed cracking and you can learn a lot of lessons from them and how Nigel Farage did what he did.
  • Failing to grasp that the vast majority of people in this country are hard-working, decent, respectful, law-abiding tax payers who are sick and tired of you promising to prop up every other bugger but them is also counter productive.
  • You have some truly awful people in the upper echelons of your party. Your leader might be a lovely bloke but he has never once come across as a person I’d want to see at the helm of my country. However, he’s not the worst. The odious Diane Abbott takes that spot and every time she opens her mouth, it strengthens resolve against you. However, the arrogant John McDonnell is not far behind her.
  • On which note, speaking as an armed forces veteran, your leaderships history of cozying up to the murders of the IRA whilst leaving our soldiers to the mercy of the courts continues to prove more damaging than you clearly recognise.
  • The anti-semitism issue is killing you, as it should.
  • Patriotism is not racist. It’s not even xenophobic. Stop making out that it is and show some faith in the UK and it’s people.
  • Banging on about issues such as the NHS, policing, defence and housing is fine if you provide properly thought out alternatives, but you don’t.
  • Similarly, promising to prop up the lazy and the feckless at our expense isn’t doing you any favours. Nor is pounding away at the rich when most of your MP’s and former ministers are sickeningly minted. Indeed, hypocrisy is never good so calling the government out on something when your history on that same subject is equally dubious is plain stupidity.
  • Immigration IS a problem to many people and most of those blame you. Many live in areas which traditionally vote Labour so if you want them to vote for you again, come up with a policy that recognises their concerns and deals with them in a way that isn’t defined by political correctness but by their reality.
  • Wheeling out a succession of champagne socialists to urge the electorate to vote for you merely underlines the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality which has divided your party. Eddie Izzard strolling around in a pink beret with freshly applied lipstick might attract a few headlines and appease the snowflakes but to the average working man (and woman) it’s embarrassing. And as for Owen Jones…
  • Once in a while, take the government to task on an issue which the vast majority of the country would support you on. The madness of Overseas Aid is an obvious example.
  • Admitting you got it wrong once in a while is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  • Finally, like it or not, Brexit is going to happen and the majority of this country want it. Just as importantly, they want the PM to get tough with the EU, not bend over and let them screw us, again. So back the government and by definition, your country. Because not doing so is not only damaging to you, but were you to get behind the country, you might actually start to get the electorate on your side. Well, some of them anyway.

There you go. Hope that helps a little, but not too much obviously.

Best wishes

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

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If football fans want to become a political force, the next step is obvious.

football lads alliance, FLA, terrorism, antifa, racismIf you’ve ever read any of my books, you’ll know that one thing I’ve written about many times is the issue of fan power. Not just within the game itself, but as a potential political force.

The problem of course, has always been how one would harness that power but it seems that finally, that problem has been overcome by the formation of the Football Lads Alliance. A group which might have it’s origins within the great game, but which has seemingly struck a chord with a wider section of society. One which up until recently had felt largely ignored; Middle England.

I won’t go into what the FLA is all about (you can read more here) but the last march in London drew well in excess of 50,000 supporters (some estimated it to be closer to 60,000) from all over the UK and as we prepare to march again in Birmingham this Saturday (Gathering from 12.00 in Curzon Street and 12.30 in Victoria Square if you fancy coming along) I thought it might be worth sharing this extract from my book Barmy Army. 

First published in 2000, it discusses an idea which caused quite a stir when it was first mooted and that is the formation of a single issue political party. The Football Party.

Times have obviously changed since I first wrote this and the concerns of the FLA certainly extend way beyond the confines of football but the general principle remains the same and it remains sound.

The problem however, was always where to start but given what has been achieved by the FLA in such a short time in terms of generating both momentum and interest, that problem has already been circumnavigated. So the key question is what to do next.

The answer is obvious. For if it is to make a genuine statement of intent, the clear target has to be the next round of mayoral elections which are due to take place in 2020. That might seem pie in the sky but before you dismiss the idea, consider these  two simple facts.

1. Most of our major cities have more than one professional club within their boundaries with each generating sizeable and passionate support of a kind every political party would kill for. London alone, has 14 professional clubs within the M25.

2. Only 42.6% of the population of our capital voted at the last Mayoral election. In Manchester, the turnout in 2017 was just 28.9% of the electorate whilst in Liverpool, it was 26.1%. Indeed, the mayor of that great city was elected with just 171,176 votes (and for reference, 53,287 watched Liverpool hammer Watford on Saturday).

If that’s not food for thought, I don’t know what is.

Read on.

Extract from Barmy Army (2000)

So if we are to force action, then it must be done in a way which the clubs are unable to ignore. And in this country, every football fan over the age of 18 has something which those in authority have to take notice of. It’s called a vote.

A few years ago, I suggested the formation of a single issue political lobby group called the Football Party. Initially, the suggestion was that people would stand for their local council to give fans a say in issues that directly affected their local club. It was an approach that proved astonishingly successful in 1990 when supporters of Charlton Athletic FC formed The Valley Party in an ultimately successful campaign to get the club back to their spiritual home.

Such was the response, it quickly became apparent that many supporters believed that this local angle was an idea worth developing. But many people wrote to me and said we had to think big and aim higher. The more I thought about that, the more plausible the whole thing sounded. What finally convinced me that the concept of a national Football Party was a sound one was when I realised that the average local election generates a turnout of less that 40 per cent and that while over 12 million people voted for the Tories in the 1992 general election, approximately 25 million watched the England v Germany semi-final in Italia ’90. What this proved to me once and for all was that if you went canvassing around every pub, club, house and factory, and told the electorate that you were standing to give them a say within the football world, there’d undoubtedly be good support, and as soon as the established parties saw there were votes in it, their policies and actions would change so as to give football a kick up the arse.

As a result, I sat down and wrote out a manifesto, one aimed not just at local councils but also at general and European elections. It included four main points. First, the formation of an independent, credible and properly funded body to represent the views and opinions of football supporters from every level of the game; second, the appointment of supporters’ representatives to the committees of both the Football Association and the Football Trust; third, the appointment of an elected supporters’ representative to the board of every professional football club; and finally, the appointment of an ombudsman or regulator to oversee the activities of the Football Association, the Football Trust, the Premier League and its members, the Football League and its members and supporters’ groups.

In August 1998, when it was first released to the press and various supporters’ groups, the response was amazing. Yet sadly, the people I wanted to react, the football authorities and the government, paid it little heed. Undaunted, I carried on. More support poured in and the manifesto began to appear all over the Internet. I had enquiries about it from all over Europe and as far afield as Australia. It had certainly captured the imagination of supporters. However, the campaign eventually began to take its toll on me, both in terms of time and finances and I was forced to put it onto the back burner. But the idea is still very much alive and the very fact that so many people continue to respond to it proves that it is sound. It sure would rock the boat were it ever to come off.

The mere idea that football fans throughout the country could even consider voting for a fat git like me proves how desperate they are to be involved in the game they love. Every supporter has a role to play in the future of the game, and that doesn’t just apply to the hooligan issue but to every single aspect of football. Every major political party recognises that fact – which is, after all, why Tony Blair does so many stupid photo-calls – but still they do nothing about it. That is not good enough. If football will not provide us with a properly funded platform through which we can be heard and demand answers, then the government must make sure they do. And if they don’t, that’s when we should use our vote, because that is the one thing all politicians are truly scared of. All we need to do is to get organised; but how we actually do that is anyone’s guess.

Yet it has to happen. For only by wielding the immense power we as football fans have at our disposal will we ever see an end to the problems facing football, from the asset-stripping to the financial incompetence, greed and sheer hypocrisy of those who supposedly run our game on our behalf. For too long now they have got away with shafting us. They have placed us in danger, sold our very game from under our feet and in far too many cases to note here, have walked away with bank accounts bursting at the seams with money that came out of our pockets. It’s not right and the time has come to do something about it.

If you want to read more on this, Barmy Army is available to download via this link. There is also more on the subject of football protest movement in my book, Rebellion which is available here.

@dougiebrimson

The Crew. A thriller by Dougie Brimson
The Crew

Two additional plugs, I’m still giving away ebooks versions of two of my best-selling books The Crew and Everywhere We Go. Further details can be found by clicking on the links or here Free Books where you will also find details of all my other publications.

Aside from all that, work continues apace on developing the film version of Wings of a Sparrow as well as the thriller Three Greens and a couple of other movie projects. I’m also working hard on the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy.

Exciting times! green street, top dog, football, soccer, politics, screenwriting, film, author, writing, hooliganism, England, world cup, hillsborough, twitter, social media, facebook, 

I’m a mid-list author and I earn my living by writing books that sell. What’s wrong with that?

eBooks = future

I have an admission to make: my name is Dougie Brimson and I am a professional author. That isn’t as an introduction to some kind of warped writers anonymous group, it’s a statement of fact.

I mention it because the other day someone asked me what motivates me to write and having thought about it at length, the one thought that kept entering my head was ‘what a stupid bloody question!’ Let’s get this clear once and for all; I write for two reasons: 1. I’m a lazy bastard who likes sitting down all day and 2. I need to make money to facilitate item 1.

That seems fair enough to me but for some strange reason it doesn’t seem to sit well with the literati. For them, the very idea of a writer admitting to being motivated by income rather than some holier-than-thou desire to ‘create’ is almost akin to admitting a being a Brexiter and admiring Margret Thatcher. Mind you, both of those are true of me too.

I have never really understood this thinking. After all, writing isn’t just bloody hard work it takes an awful lot of time and effort so if you’re going to do it, surely the aim must be to get published? But you will only get published if someone thinks that there is potential to sell copies and if you sell copies, you make money. That’s why it’s called the publishing business.

Yet for some reason, if you as a writer approach the process by looking at the market and giving it what it actually wants as opposed to what some editor thinks it should have, you are regarded almost as a traitor to the art form. Believe me, I’ve met people who work in publishing who genuinely seem to consider being popular as something to be ashamed of.

Well sod that. I might never win the Booker prize or receive invites to the Hay festival but I know my market, I know what it wants and I’m happy to provide it with as much as I can and as often as I can. If the literary world doesn’t get that simple commercial reality then screw them.

The reason why this is so relevant is because as some people are already aware, I’m currently working on the sequel to my novel Billy’s Log and it’s highly likely that I will be releasing it purely as an ebook.

There are numerous reasons for this (most of which are quite tedious) but the two main ones have to do with speed and money.

It can take months, sometimes years, for a manuscript to make the journey to Waterstones and even longer for the meagre percentage of the cover price to reach the authors bank.

For an eBook, it can be online within hours and any royalties in the bank within 3 months and more importantly, even though eBooks are significantly cheaper than paperbacks, that royalty is higher.

As a professional writer, that’s significant because at the end of the day, whilst I’ve sold plenty of books (around 750,000 at the last count) I’m not JK Rowling or Jeffrey Archer and I don’t get offered 6 figure advances. My income is generated primarily by sales.

Don’t get me wrong, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I appreciate every single email, tweet, letter or comment I receive about my writing and when it comes to motivation, nothing works as effectively as praise. But I also appreciate the income that my work generates if for no other reason than it buys me time, and food. So anything I can do to increase that income and the speed with which it arrives, has to be a good thing.

The downside of course, is that for someone like me who continues to sell books, by stepping away from the traditional publishing route I’m actually taking work away from the very people who have for years been in control of my career.

I get no pleasure from that but at the end of the day, going the eBook route might not win me any friends in publishing but no editor would work for nothing and I’ll be buggered if I’m going to either.

violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, bum,On the subject of ebooks, it continues to astonish me that over 7 years since it was first released as an ebook, The Crew has almost continually held the #1 slot on both its Amazon and iTunes chart and was the most downloaded football book of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Additionally, on most weeks at least 7 of the top 50 football books on iTunes are my titles and I’ve also released two further books including Wings of a Sparrow which continues to sell well.

This, in spite of the fact that publicity for my work remains an elusive beast. In fact I have found it all but impossible to obtain any mainstream coverage for my work which is both irritating and frustrating in equal measures. Yes, there is obviously the ‘hooligan’ tag to overcome which is clearly and understandably an issue with some people but the fact remains, there is a market for the type of books I write and thankfully, that market seems to like what I’m providing for them.

So rest assured, as long as people keep buying them, I’ll keep writing them because to me, the reader is and always will be the most important person in the whole process. Which is kind of the point.

@dougiebrimson

,sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart


Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

hooligan,hooliganism,writing,writer,author,screenwriting,greenstreet,sex

Screenwriting: Is age discrimination an actual thing?

writing, writer, screenwritingIn my last blog (Why the film world doesn’t owe you a living) I made the point that as a 59-year-old male screenwriter, the chances of you ‘breaking through’ into the big leagues of the movie world are almost certainly hindered by the fact that you are usually old enough to be the father of the person holding your future in their hands.

The reaction to this was, as expected, mixed. Some people claimed it was shameful of me to compare age to race or gender as a barrier with others thanking me for saying something that they’d been thinking for years.

Now in response to the former, I have no idea what it’s like to be anything other than a white heterosexual male and given that I’m currently 59 and a writer who has enjoyed a degree of success both in print and on screen, I think I’m fairly well placed to write about the impact being a 59-year-old white heterosexual male can have on a career as a writer. And since this is my blog… well, I’m sure you know where I’m going with that so please, fill in the blanks yourself.

As for those who agreed with me, which was to be fair, the majority, I’m obviously grateful for all of your comments and if in some small way I’ve inspired you to keep going, then I’m humbled.

Interestingly, the blog generated some extremely positive reaction in the US (someone even linked me with Madonna which is a bit random!) and actually led to a few interviews on the subject one of which was with the website ‘Screenwriting Staffing‘ which has just gone live.

Have a read and please, let me know what you think.

@dougiebrimson

,sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart


Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

author, screenwriting, screenplay, green street, elijah wood, fart, farting, gangster, sex, oral, football, soccer, hooligans, author, indie, independent, self publishing, ebook

 

One year on…

father, dad, brimson, family, eulogyIt is, somewhat unbelievably, a year to the day that my dad passed on.

I can’t speak for the rest of the Brimson clan (although I suspect I probably do), when I say that I still haven’t fully accepted that the old man has actually gone. But then again, I talk to him pretty much every day anyway so whilst he might not be ‘here’ in the physical sense,  I know he’s never far away. Besides, since I’m increasingly being told that I’m morphing into him, a brief glance in the mirror will always jog the memory.  

I won’t however, go on about the old git and write about how our lives are a little less full without his input, even though they are. Instead, I thought that the best way to mark today would be to post the eulogy I gave at his funeral. Not just because it encapsulated pretty much everything I wanted to say about him, but because it provides a timely reminder of what was actually a pretty perfect send off. I certainly can’t recall ever going to a funeral which was capped off by a round of applause. A genuine masterstroke of an idea courtesy of my brother.

So here it is. If you knew him at all, I hope it brings forth a smile. If you didn’t, well you missed out but I hope this gives you some insight into the type of man he was and how much he meant to us all. 

There’s an irony about today which I don’t think is lost on anyone in the family and it’s that dad would have loved it. He was after all, at his best in front of an audience and his happiest when he was the centre of attention. Indeed, I’ve often considered the possibility that one of the reasons he had six kids was so that there would always be someone around for him to talk to, about himself.

That’s not a criticism of him, far from it. Wanting everything to revolve around the world of Del was just a part of what made him both the great entertainer we all know he was and a pretty awesome dad. 

And he was an awesome dad. Not in the traditional sense as the graft of actually bringing us up was mostly left to our fabulous mum, or even in the sense that he was always great fun to be around, which he was. But in the sense that whatever he did, be it music, golf, photography or even astronomy, he was passionate about to the point of obsession. And he was the same with his kids. For whatever any of us decided to do, he was always incredibly supportive and backed us to the hilt.

I don’t think I ever fully appreciated that until I sat down to write about him. Nor did I realise quite how much he had influenced my own working life.

 You see unlike my brothers, who all followed in his musical and comedic footsteps, I have zero musical ability and I can’t tell a joke to save my life so having trod a different path to the others I’d always thought that his impact on my various occupations was negligible. But since his death I have come to realise that the only reason I’ve been able to forge a career as a writer is because his storytelling DNA runs through every single sentence I have ever written, and it always will.

I wish I had acknowledged how grateful I am for that when he was alive but I think he knew it anyway, I certainly hope he did. I do know how proud he was of all of his kids because he never tired to telling anyone who would listen about us and what we were up to. Not that he was adverse to taking a chunk of the credit for it. Indeed one of dads greatest gifts was his incredible ability to turn any and every conversation around so that it ended up being about him.

That was never more evident than in recent years when his deteriorating health gave him a lot to talk about. Not that he ever complained, he just liked everyone to know he was ill but that like the old trouper he was, he was struggling on regardless.

I mention this now, of all times, because in recent months, his various ailments meant that whenever he left the house, he would require the use of a wheelchair. But for my old man, far from being a pain it was actually a win-win situation. For not only was he being handed a legitimate excuse to play the poorly card, he was also gifted a captive audience in the shape of the poor bugger who had to push him around.

This task fell to me on numerous occasions however far from being a chore, it quickly became a source of hilarity for the two of us. For whenever I’d take him anywhere we’d spend an hour or so entertaining each other purely by seeing who could embarrass the other the most. And I’m not talking about stuff like introducing me to the checkout lady in Tesco as his slave, or telling her that he might not have enough money in his bank account because he thought I’d been stealing from him, both of which he actually did, I’m talking proper embarrassment.

One of my favourite examples of this took place during what turned out to be our last shopping trip together when he told me that he wanted to go to Primark as he needed some new socks. As I was wheeling him between the racks of clothes, he suddenly announced that he also wanted a new belt.

Normally, something like this would be a routine purchase however, nothing was routine with my old man. For not only did he insist on finding one that looked good, he insisted on trying it on. Or rather, since he was unsteady on his feet, he wanted me to help him try it on.

Despite my protests at the fact that actually having to touch him filled me with horror, I soon found myself kneeling in front of him with my face far too close to his groin for comfort and my hands around his waist threading a belt through his trousers as he held up his coat with one hand and rested the other on my shoulder.

He of course, found both my discomfort and my embarrassment hilarious but bad though things already were for me, they were made even worse when I suddenly realised that we were being stared at by a middle aged woman who having put two and two together and come up with a solid five, wore a facial expression which was a perfect mixture of horror and disgust. 

To dad of course, this was like an open goal and even as I turned beetroot, he flashed his immortal grin at her and said ‘It’s alright love, he’s almost finished’.

Sadly, as I said, that turned out to be our last trip out together and so I was never able to extract revenge. But whilst I will have to concede defeat in that particular battle, I can take a little comfort in the fact that I did manage to get the last word in.

On the night he fell ill and was taken to hospital, I sat alone with him in A&E and as there was no indication of how the night would unfold, we ended up in a cubicle talking about anything and everything to pass the time and inevitably, talk soon turned to the politics of the day. In fact his very last coherent sentence was ‘I really like that Theresa May’ which kind of summed him up. A Tory to the end.

And it was the end. For shortly after that, he began to slip quietly and peacefully away as I held his hand.

But whenever dad and I parted, our closing words to each other were always ‘be lucky’ and I will be forever grateful that those were the last words he heard during his life. Because they were.

So wherever you are now old man, be lucky. We certainly were.

 

Why Jocelyne Larocque was right to take off her silver medal.

Jocelyne Larocque, Canda, Ice Hockey, OlympicLike everyone who saw it, I was gripped by the women’s ice hockey final at the Olympics. It was an astonishing event played by two teams at the very top of their game.

Sadly, the event has been overshadowed by what happened during the medal ceremony when one of the Canadian players, Jocelyne Larocque, took off her silver medal within seconds of if being placed over her head.

This was, according to many, disrespectful, petulant and even childish behaviour of the type we should never expect to see from anyone representing their country. Well I’m sorry, but they are wrong. This is EXACTLY the type of behaviour we should be hoping to see from our top flight sportsmen and women.

Let’s be clear, in team sports you don’t win a silver medal, you lose the gold. This is especially true at the top flight and even more so at an occasion like the Olympics in a tournament where you are expected to win gold. But when you don’t win but instead, lose in the final to your fiercest rivals and in the cruelest possible way, are you supposed to stand there and actually be happy about it?

Get real.

In the cold light of day, maybe Jocelyne Larocque would have done things differently and indeed, she has since apologised. And yes, arguments that she is a role model and should be proud to represent her country at the very highest of levels all have some validity.

But in that moment, when her dream had been snatched away and the agony of defeat was clearly uppermost in her head, tearing off that medal showed just how much she was hurting. That, to me, is exactly the kind of passion I want to see in each and every sportsman or woman representing my country -and my football team come to that!- because I want them to win and win big!

And when they don’t, I don’t want to see smiles and handshakes, I want to see agony. Because that’s how sporting legends are made.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpool I desperately need to do some work on my Amazon author page , primarily by adding some new titles to it! So I’m happy to pass on news that there will be at least two, maybe even three new ones coming in 2018! 

In the meantime, you can buy all the existing books including the soccer comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog from either Amazon or iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

hooliganism, russia, football, soccer, violence, gangs, writing, publishing 

The Falklands War – My guilty secret.

argentina, falklands war, thatcher, royal airforce, nimrod, vulcan, harrierNormally, at around 4.00 in the afternoon, my writing life will be dominated by one of two things.

If I’m in writing mode, it’ll be the sounds of Bjork in my headphones and if I’m in skiving mode it’ll be some crap TV show like Come Dine With Me or Deal or No Deal as I lounge on the sofa.

Recently however, I have discovered the delights of Simon Mayo on Radio 2 and having been listening to his excellent ‘Confessions’ slot, I have been inspired to confess something of my own. Not because I feel guilty about it and need forgiveness, but because I just feel the time is right to get it off my chest. So here goes…

In 1982, whilst a young, impressionable and innocent Corporal, I was dispatched to Ascension Island as a part of the Royal Air Force detachment involved with the South Atlantic Task Force. For those who do not know, Ascension Island is a volcanic rock in the middle of the South Atlantic. It’s hot, windy and dusty which can make things extremely uncomfortable when you’re living in tents and what with that and the huge amount of aircraft movements taking place, sleep was at a premium during the day.

More importantly, the island is home to a beautiful and very long runway which meant that it provided the perfect operational hub for the men and equipment being put together to repel the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands. As a consequence, by the time I arrived, at around the same time as the first British ships heading for war, it was somewhat busy.

Now, my job will remain secret for reasons which would be obvious if you knew what they were but suffice to say, my shift pattern was 24 on, 24 off. Unfortunately, the ‘on’ portion involved my sergeant and I remaining both awake and alert which whilst fine at first, was not fine after about a week. Zombies comes close.

As a consequence, we began a rota where one would snatch sleep whilst the other remained awake doing the work of two men. This worked well for a few days until it all went horribly wrong. Or to be more specific, I cocked it up.

It’s fair to say that being on an active and very busy airfield during time of war is extremely exciting but as you can imagine given our location, the facilities left something to be desired. And by facilities, I mean specifically, toilets.

This was fine for ‘number one’s’ but when the body placed additional demands on you (if you get my drift) you needed an actual toilet. And let’s face it, I wasn’t in the Army, I was in the RAF so our much higher standards meant that we couldn’t and indeed wouldn’t, just ‘go’ anywhere! 

Unfortunately, the toilets for us lowly airmen were about half a mile away and consisted of what are known universally as ‘long drops’. These being basically long planks of wood with holes cut in them. I will leave you to work out the rest but to say they leave a lot to be desired is an understatement. Especially at 3.00 in the morning when it is pitch black.

war, falklands, ascension, RAF, royal air forceHowever, within one hundred yards of my building on the side of the aircraft pan were four chemical toilets of the sort you see at music festivals and on building sites. The problem for me was that these were specifically for officers, pilots and aircrew and we oikes had been expressly forbidden to use them under pain of disciplinary action. Indeed, so serious was this threat that they were actually surrounded by barbed wire with a small gap providing the only entrance.

As you can imagine, being lowly non-commissioned officers, toilet envy rapidly became a huge factor in our lives. Something exacerbated by what I can only describe as  the habit of ‘showing off’ by those eligible to use them.

Well, at some ungodly hour of the morning during one particular shift, I was, to be blunt, caught short. With the airfield reasonably quiet and my sergeant fast asleep under his desk, I took the decision that rather than wake him and endure my long walk to the long drops, I would risk it. My thinking being that not only would I be away from my desk for a shorter period but I would obtain a small victory for junior ranks everywhere by taking a dump in the officers bogs. Such victories are, after all, what the British Armed Forces are based on.

So within minutes, I’d crept out of the building and in full SAS mode, has slunk through the darkness across the extremely crunchy volcanic ash, ducked through the barbed wire and was sitting comfortably doing what came naturally.

Inevitably, after two or three minutes I heard footsteps approaching and it suddenly struck me that I could soon find myself in serious trouble. I was after all, disobeying a direct order. But just as importantly, so could my sergeant who was at the very moment blissfully unaware that I wasn’t actually there holding what should have been a very secure fort whilst he was fast asleep on active duty. Being one of the most serious offences in the military, had he been caught he would almost certainly have faced a court martial which could well have resulted in a demotion and possibly even a prison sentence and dismissal from the service. We were after all, at war.

As all this ran through my brain, all I could do was sit and hope to goodness that the fast approaching officer would not even try the locked door to my cubicle (something which might well have led to him asking who was in there) but would simply enter one of the three empty cubicles thus allowing me time to escape.

It was at this point that I noticed that I had neglected to lock said door and I also realised that I couldn’t simply place a boot against it because it opened outwards. It was lock or nothing but even as I reached for it, it swung open to reveal a very senior officer silhouetted against the South Atlantic sky.

As he took a step forward, I suddenly realised that it was so dark inside that he hadn’t actually seen me sitting there and so all I could to was shout ‘BOO!’ at which point he let out a high pitched scream, turned and ran back at high speed toward the collection of portacabins which formed the operations centre.

Within seconds I was sprinting after him and made it through the gap in the barbed wire just as an alarm went off and all hell broke loose.

By the time I made it back to the safety of my building, the first of the armed patrols had arrived as rumours spread that the very real fears of an Argentine Special Forces attack on the airfield had been realised.

It was some hours before things calmed down and an investigation began into what had caused such a flap. Of course, being the closest building to said toilets, suspicions that the culprit was close to home soon centred on yours truly but my vehement denials as well as my sergeants assertions that I had not left our office at any time meant that I escaped unpunished.

A few days later, the first shots were fired down South and the incident was forgotten but it has stuck with me ever since and the time has now come to put my hands up.

Not because I almost gave a senior officer a coronary or caused him a degree of embarrassment (after all, he screamed like a little girl and ran away) or because numerous police and soldiers ended up spending hours scouring the locality looking for non existent invaders, but because of my sergeant.

For not only did I almost cost him a twenty year career, his pension and a spell in military prison, but he spent the next five weeks terrified of shutting his eyes whilst we were on duty in case I actually did drop him in it. Mind you, that did mean I got all the sleeping time.

So sorry Tim. I hope you’ll be pleased to know I feel much better for getting that off my chest.

.

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watford

My latest novel, Wings of a Sparrow  is available in ebook and paperback format from either Amazon or iTunes.

The audio version of Top Dog is now available to download via the link and joins the ebook, paperback and movie to make the clean sweep of all platforms! Not too shabby if I say so myself.

RAF, army, military, forces, hooligan, british film, top dog, green street, self publishing, manchester united, liverpool, sex, maggie thatcher, veteran, UKIP, tory Argentina

The remain camp is doomed to fail the Brexit battle, and it only has itself to blame.

brexit, leaveEU, remainI have recently been having some social media fun at the expense of the remain camp, or as they have come to be known, the remoaners. They really are a funny lot.

Indeed, playing with them is like a game of Twitter Tetris. You know what’s coming and at what speed, you just don’t know in what order it’s going to drop. It’s hilarious.

However, like any online game, what’s interesting to those of us who play it is how this one has evolved over time. For example, in the last week we have seen a marked shift from ‘we have to have a referendum because the polls say *insert fictional percentage here* have changed their minds’ to ‘we have to have a referendum so that we can draw a line under it’. It almost appears conciliatory, except of course, it isn’t. What it is, is desperate.

For the truth is that the remain camp are starting to wake up to an inescapable fact. Because ever since the referendum decision was announced and their anguished cries for a second referendum began, they have got it wrong. Very wrong.  Indeed, to a man and woman, they have fought an appalling campaign on behalf of a second vote. 

The big mistake they made was that from the outset, they refused to acknowledge that those of us who voted to leave the EU might have done so based on a legitimate opinion. Instead, they foolishly adopted the age old bully boy tactics of the left and went on the attack. From the bog standard ‘you idiots fell for all the lies’ to ‘you’ve stolen our future you racist bastards’ we heard it all. We’re still hearing it.

The problem was that we on the leave side didn’t bite. Instead, the collective 52% sat back and waited for something that never came, a coherent argument which might suggest to us that things might be better if we changed our minds. Instead, all we have seen from them is how much worse they are going to be when we leave. Thus, if we follow their thinking, our choice as Brexiters is more of the same or more of the same, only worse. And what kind of choice is that? Certainly not one which lends weight to their desperate plea that we should join their desperate calls to put it to the vote again.

Things might have been different had they actually engaged in a debate, but this of course, is exactly what they didn’t want because that, as previously stated, would have meant admitting that we might have actually voted for Brexit with our heads and not because The Mail told us to.

Instead, anyone brave enough to stick their head above the Brexit parapet would quickly find themselves under a vicious and sustained attack designed not just to shout them down, but to shut them down. And don’t make the mistake of thinking this is in the past, it’s still going on as I type this. In fact, it’s even worse because the truth of the matter is that the remoaners are the political equivalent of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and like the nations favourite doorsteppers, they don’t want to debate, they want to convert.

They even have their own hash tag (#FBPE which means ‘Follow back, Pro-European Union’) which effectively allows them to gang up on you almost immediately with each one liking or retweeting the others smug comments like playground cowards desperate to be liked. It’s hilarious.

Now, we are seeing the same kind of thinking with Donald Trump. This rabid minority, who view him as the very devil, are dominating the social media discussion about his forthcoming visit with promises to flood the streets not merely to protest, but to spew even more of their hatred. And true to form, if you post anything remotely pro-Trump, the troll pack will be on you like the dogs they are. So the debate is stifled. Again. Thus, their side is effectively, the opinion of the public.

Yet if you go out and actually speak to people, there is huge support for Trump in this country. Indeed, I suspect that a sizeable majority of the 52%  in this country would love a leader who actually puts his country first and delivers on his promises. Dare to voice that opinion on Twitter and see what happens.

But their tactics aren’t working and ultimately, they can never work. The British are the most tolerant people on earth but anyone who knows anything about us will be aware that the silent majority don’t like being bullied. It might take some time to get us riled up, but once we’re there it’s game over.

And thanks to the stupidity and arrogance of the remoaners, we’re pretty much there.

Onwards.

@dougiebrimson

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

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How Hoolie-Lit conquered the world (and my part in its downfall).

hooligans, Russia, World CupI recently wrote this article for The Football Collective on the rise and fall of the literary genre which became known as hoolie-lit.  Feel free to let me know what you think.

It’s fairly safe to say that over the years my name has become synonymous with the subject of hooligan related literature, or hoolie-lit as it became known.

Indeed, at various points I have been described in the press as ‘The Yob Laureate’ and ‘the football hooligans pornographer-in-chief’. As good an epitaph for my future headstone as it’s possible to have been granted.

Yet prior to 1995, writing was never really on my radar. Up to that point, my entire working life had been pretty much taken up by a career in the Royal Air Force.

What changed that was the fast approaching Euro 96 or to be more specific, the growing media furore surrounding the possibility of mass hooliganism at the tournament. For it’s safe to say that as someone who had followed football home and away for years and had occasionally been amongst the very worst the terraces had to offer, some of the things being written by certain so-called experts about a world we were relatively knowledgable about, were not just wide of the mark, they were laughable.

The more of these bizarre ramblings we -my younger brother and I- read and heard, the more it struck us that what was missing was some kind of balance. Something that provided an honest and frank examination of this fascinating world from the inside. In the end, we decided that if no one else was going to provide one, we might as well try. The question was how to do it and the obvious answer was to try and write a book.

More here:   https://footballcollective.org.uk/2018/01/16/how-hoolie-lit-conquered-the-world-and-my-part-in-its-downfall/

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpool I desperately need to do some work on my Amazon author page , primarily by adding some new titles to it! So I’m happy to pass on news that there will be at least two, maybe even three new ones coming in 2018! 

In the meantime, you can buy all the existing books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog from either Amazon or iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

hooliganism, russia, football, soccer, violence, gangs, writing, publishing 

The official blog of author and screenwriter Dougie Brimson www.dougiebrimson.com