English for English. It’s common sense!

england, english, language, dialogue, sport, football, soccer, racism, racist, NHS, hospital, police, brimson, hooligans, ebooks, kindle, amazon, itunesI was going to write a long rant this morning about a subject which over this last year, has become an increasing source of not just irritation, but actual anger.

However, the more I talk about this particular issue with other people the more I realise that this is one of those rants which is becoming increasingly universal. Indeed, once you get to the end of this blog my guess is that you will at worst have a degree of empathy with the point, at best simply say ‘about effing time someone said that!’

So with that in mind, here we go.

If you walk into any government building or have any kind of contact with a major commercial organisation, you will be informed at some point that any or all information is available in a variety of languages. Indeed, in the case of somewhere like a hospital, council office or police station, there will be posters and leaflets imparting that knowledge pretty much everywhere.

This is of course, how it should be -after all, we live in a multi-cultural society- however, it is a fact that any nation is defined by various things one of which is its language. Therein lies my problem.

You see I am and will always regard myself as English. Not British, not European, English, And last time I looked, I live in England and the language of my homeland is English which just happens to be the most widely spoken and understood language on the planet.

So with that in mind, if I contact an organisation of any description which is based in England and find myself dealing with an individual who can barely speak my language let alone impart the often complex knowledge I require, why am I made to feel like either an idiot or a racist if I ask to speak to someone I can actually understand? Or for that matter, who understands me? Isn’t that a perfectly fair and reasonable request?

Of course it bloody well is!

Yet too many organisations seem quite happy to place people in customer facing positions who, whilst they might be perfectly competent in most respects, are clearly unable to carry out their function correctly simply because of their inability to communicate. That isn’t good enough, not in this day and age. However, the only way things will ever change is if we, as both taxpayers and consumers, start to demand it and on a regular basis.

So do it!

football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritanceThis will be my last blog before Christmas and so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy holiday and a brilliant New Year.

I’m not normally one for the festive season but I’m really looking forward to this one not least because it will herald in 2013 which for all kinds of reasons, is already shaping up to be a quite amazing year.

So to all those I have met, worked or had dealings with in 2012, especially those who are involved in new or ongoing projects, please take some time to relax, have fun and recharge your batteries because I don’t know about you, I’m planning on next year being the really big one and if you can’t keep up, you may well miss out!

And don’t forget, if you are lucky enough to receive an eReader as a gift on the 25th, you can download all of my books for around about £10.00 and that includes my latest, Wings of a Sparrow which is currently receiving great reviews and is already the subject of movie talk!

Enjoy!

Nets, coins, hooligans… you couldn’t make it up. But you don’t have to.

hooligans, ferdinand, football, soccer, violence, lads, fans, supporters, manchester united, manchester cityOver the years, I have heard a lot of people talk absolute bollocks about the issue of hooliganism and in particular, the reasons why certain individuals behave as they do.

The pathetic hand-wringing and ‘it never went away’ type drivel which inevitably follows an incident of trouble inside a ground -be it racism or violence related- all too often leaves me shaking my head in amazement. It genuinely baffles me how supposedly intelligent people can be both blinkered and stupid at the same time.

This week however, has surpassed the lot.

Events in Manchester were terrible, that is true. The fact that a premiership footballer was almost blinded by a coin thrown from amongst rival supporters is something everyone involved with the game should be ashamed of just as we should be ashamed of the coins and missiles which were being thrown all the way through that game in much the way as they are at games up and down the country on a far too regular basis. Not just at players, but at rival fans, stewards and the police although this seems to have been largely forgotten (or ignored) by the back page mafia.

Yet what has amazed me has been the nature of the response to this particular incident. Not least the idea that to prevent such a thing happening again, we should hang nets from the front of every terrace roof in the land. Nets… for fucks sake.

Yes, a physical barrier of some description between fans and pitch would certainly minimise the risk of players being hit but let’s be practical shall we? Let’s think about this sensibly and talk about why it is quite possibly the most stupid idea to combat crowd problems since Ken Bates and his electric fence.

First, it wouldn’t work. You’d still get things thrown at the pitch only this time those that didn’t make it through the gaps in the mesh would bounce back onto the crowd. The legal consequences in the ‘duty of care’ sense would be immense.

Second, it would have no impact on missiles being thrown at rival fans.

Third, have you ever stood and watched a sporting event from behind mesh when the rain is pelting down? I have, and it’s like watching through fog. And what happens if it starts to sleet? Or you are required to evacuate the stand in a hurry? Or it falls onto the crowd?

The argument of course, is that such things would be considered during ‘development’ of any such system. Yeah right. Goal line technology, safe standing… how long have these things been being ‘considered’ and just how close are we having to either appearing in an English football ground?

Fourth, and possibly most importantly, if you put up a physical barrier you also put up a visible one. In this case, it would be akin to a flashing neon sign which might as well say ’Hooliganism: 40 years on and we’re back where we started.’ You can almost sense the victims of Heysel and Hillsborough spinning in their graves at the very suggestion.

Fifth and finally, the idea completely misses the point. For instead of finding a way of stopping missiles hitting players, why not consider the revolutionary concept of addressing the mentality of those who think throwing them is a good idea?

That of course, is the obvious thing to do. But of course football has been trying to do that since the 70’s and…. oh no, that’s right, it hasn’t. Because footballs answer to deal with the problem of hooliganism was to get the police to shove it out of the grounds, tell everyone things are better than it was in the 80’s (how many times have you heard that this week?) and hope the boys in blue would solve it. Which they didn’t because Old Bill’s job is not actually to change attitudes it is to enforce the law of the land. Something they continue to do and with some vigour whilst at the same time using football as quite possibly the best real-time crowd-control training facility any police force anywhere in the world has ever had.

That’s another debate entirely (read Barmy Army and Kicking Off if you want to know more about my views on the policing of football) but the fact remains that despite its claim to the contrary, the game as an entity has actually done little or nothing to combat hooliganism since the problem first began to show its fangs.

The coin which bounced off Rio Ferdinand’s forehead proved that conclusively and that is without a doubt the most shameful aspect of this whole sorry saga. (And before anyone mails me asking ‘so what would you do?’ I’ll be blogging about that very thing in a day or so.)

football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritanceThanks to everyone who has downloaded Wings of a Sparrow this week. Sales are even better than I could have hoped for and the reviews thus far have been amazing. I certainly never thought my writing would be compared to the legendary Tom Sharpe!

If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you will get around to it soon and if you have please leave a review somewhere and help me to spread the word.

In these days of digital books, word of mouth is the best advertising any book can have which is why authors such as myself are so keen to get those who read our work involved in the publishing process.

After all, current thinking is that a self-published author needs to spend 20% of their time writing and 80% of their time self-promoting! With at least two books to write, I’d rather have that the other way round but only you guys can help me with that.

So come on… get on with it!

Everything you wanted to know about being the ex football hooligan author Dougie Brimson (but were afraid to ask)

football, soccer, books, brimson. hooligans, violence, coin thrower, matt haig, manchester city, manchester united, violence, racism, amazon, itunes, ibooks, writer, author, self-publishing

As I sit here, pondering my navel and doing pretty much anything I can to avoid actually writing, I often stumble across things which not only make me laugh, but strike a chord. One of the most recent items to achieve this double whammy was a blog I read today entitled ‘Everything you wanted to know about being an author (but were afraid to ask).

The reason this caused such mirth in Brimson Towers was because only this morning I received not one, but two emails asking me about that very thing. Now in both cases, given that Matt Haig, the author of said blog, is a far better and more accomplished writer than I will ever be and had pretty much said everything I would have said and more anyway, I simply passed on the link and wished the individual well.

However, as I mulled it over whilst standing in line at Tesco’s an hour or so ago (I’d had an urge for pie. Seriously) I decided that if I was going to accurately apply this excellent list to my own writing life and process, it would need a tweak or two.

So what follows is a bastardised version of the list in question. I have included the original in italics for reasons which will become obvious and hope that Mr Haig will accept my apology for brutalising his excellent efforts which, if you would like to read them, can be found here: 

1.     We live on toast. And cereal. And caffeine. And wine. But mainly toast.   Since I am banned from eating bread due to my lard arse frames dislike of wheat and rarely drink alcohol of any description, I only survive at all thanks to a daily plate of eggs and bacon, this being supplemented by a ready supply of Bourbons. On reflection, this could explain my aforementioned lard arsed frame.

2.     By the time our book comes out, it feels like a childhood memory. But more distant.   As an author who is intent on spewing out ebooks on a scarily regular basis until such time as readers finally suss out that I am a talentless hack (a fact I am already well aware of), I am no longer hindered by the agonising time it takes publishers take to get books from emailed file to the shelves of Waterstones. Hence, when a book is released into the marketplace, or as I prefer to call it, Amazon, it is still scarily fresh in the memory.

3.     Our daily word-count was approximately three thousand words higher before the arrival of Facebook and Twitter.   Absolutely true. Indeed, there is a whole heap of irony to be found in the fact that whilst the world wide web provides the engine for what passes as my writing career, it also does all it can to slam it into reverse on an almost minute by minute basis. Proof of which can be found by looking at my Twitter and Facebook timelines.

4.     At parties someone will always say, ‘So have you written anything I’d have heard of?’ Or, ‘How are the books going?’ Both questions end in awkward silence.   Again, absolutely true although the reality is that I rarely get invited to parties. In fact for rarely, substitute never. I suspect people assume I will turn up, get pissed and wreck the place. This being as far from the truth as you could possibly get.

5.     If we were number two in the bestseller charts, the only book we would ever be thinking about is the one selling more.   Partially true. Well OK, mostly true. Although in some instances, I do look at who is languishing below me and mutter a contented ‘take that you fucker’ to myself.

6.     We never know if the book we are writing is the right one until we have written it. And even then we are not sure.   In my case, I know it’s the right one because I ask my readers in advance and they tell me what they want. That’s the joy of being a digital author who actually talks to the people who buys his books.

7.     It is harder to make friends after you become a writer than it was before. But way easier to make enemies.   True and very true.

8.     People think you are automatically a bit weird. (Or is that just me?)   No, it’s not just you. Although in my defence, I am actually a bit weird.

9.     We need editors ‘like a fat kid needs cake’ – to quote that sensitive literary soul, 50 Cent.   This is golden rule number 5 in Doug’s golden rule book of writing. It is so, so true.

10.    The best day is when we get to see our book cover. Unless we don’ t like the book cover in which case it is the worst day.   Being a digital author, my publishers involve me in developing covers from day one and often I have the final say so this isn’t the case for me. My best day is usually when I write ‘the end’ and the worst is when I realise that it usually isn’t.

11.    ‘Royalty statement’ is Latin for disappointment.   Thanks to the web, I see my sales figures on an almost daily basis. Sometimes they are orgasmic, other times I want to kill myself.

12.    We get stomach pains every time another writer wins something. (We have continual stomach pains).   Not only have I never won anything, I’ve never even been nominated. Come to that, I’ve never even been invited to anything where any author won anything. My stomach pains are entirely due to my Bourbon intake.

13.    We all want to be Hemingway, minus the suicide part.   I’m quite happy being me.

14.    We would probably all be writing poems, if people actually bought poems.   If I could earn a living writing football chants or perhaps greeting cards for lads, I’d be happy with that. Who wouldn’t?

15.    We spend a lot of our time going on five hour train journeys to events where eight people turn up (and only three of them buy the book).     The only events I get invited to involve court or family and generally speaking, I tend to avoid both of them like the plague anyway.

16.    We chose not to choose life. We chose something else.   This is true. It’s called solitude.

17.    We are generally quite bad at dancing.   Untrue. I have the moves! Or at least I did before my back gave out.

18.    In most cases, the person we don’t like more than any other just happens to be another writer. But then, the person we admire most is one too.   This is true. Although in my case it is more to do with personality than the nature of their output.

19.    We may have our name on the front of a book but we always feel slightly outside the publishing industry, looking in. Like Keats at that metaphorical sweet-shop.   Despite my apparent success, I am firmly on the outside of the publishing industry and always have been. I fear that is unlikely to ever change.

20. If we were a neurotic wreck before we were published – and we were – we remain one afterwards. Our brain chemistry doesn’t fundamentally change.   This is absolutely true although my insecurities tend to be more about my other efforts at writing than about my books. Screenplays are terror inducing.

21. If we get good reviews, we want good sales. If we get good sales, we want good reviews.   I want both. Is that too much to ask?

22. We are happy for five whole minutes after a book is sent off. Then we realise all the mistakes we made.   True. Although thanks to the magic that is the eBook, we can if need be, continually edit!

23. We start off wanting to be published. We get published. Then we want a nice review. We get a nice review. Then we want an award. We get an award. Then we want a film deal. We get a film deal. Then we want a film to be made. And so on. For ever. (We are never happy).   Well as previously discussed, I know I’ll never earn an award although I have had a movie and plenty of film deals. Another première would be nice though as I wasn’t actually invited to the first one… (long story)

24. If someone reads our work midway through the writing process we need them to faint in awe or it goes in the bin.   People are constantly reading my work at every stage from one-line idea to final manuscript. As a consequence, if they are happy, I am happy. If they’re not, I listen to what they say and change things until they are. They are legends!

25. We are a little bit lonely.   True. Thankfully, despite coming from a large family, I have always been a bit of a loner and my favourite company is er… me. That has stood me in good stead over the years.

26. Bad reviews are always taken personally. Always.   Totally and absolutely true.

27. Writing a novel is like a relationship. During the early stages every other possibility looks incredibly attractive. But commitment pays off.   True. And since manuscripts, like screenplays, are always females, occasionally, when you get to the end, you’re glad to see the back of her.

28. We rarely write in coffee shops.   True. Instead we watch and listen and use the fact that we are writers as an excuse for loitering. Or is that just me?

29. Writing is heaven. Re-writing is hell.   Oh god yes.

30. We are rubbish at other jobs. And DIY. And most other things too.   I was an engineer in a previous life so I can do pretty much anything. The biggest problem I have is getting myself motivated to actually do it whatever it is that needs doing.

31. We say the wrong things at parties.   I refer the honourable reader to the answer I gave some moments ago. I don’t get invited…

32. The definition of discomfort is the moment after your mother reads your semi-autobiographical novel.   Substitute ‘mother’ with ‘daughter’ and you’re about right.

33. There is no praise more treasured than that of an author you worship.   I wouldn’t know about this. It’s never happened.

34. The best book we have ever written is the one we are about to write.   It better be!

35. The best ideas we have are the ones that arrive accidentally.   True. In fact the idea for my next book actually arrived thanks to an accident. I was in hospital with my wife who had broken her arm when the plot came to me!

36. There is no email in the world nicer to receive than the one from a reader who has been moved by your work.   Oh yes. Thankfully, I have had many of those over the years and each and every one is valued.

37. We know, in our heart of hearts, that we have the very best job in the world.   The truest of all truths. On which note, thanks to everyone who has downloaded my new book Wings of a Sparrow. Feedback and reviews have thus far been brilliant which makes all the effort and late nights worthwhile.

football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritanceWork is progressing on getting more media exposure although many publications are reluctant to give reviews to eBooks and of course, as many of you know, I am banned from certain magazines and TV shows on account of my criticism of them in the past. The only thing I can ever see changing that would be if a book becoming too popular to ignore and since Wings of a Sparrow is a hooligan free zone, it provides possibly the best opportunity for that to happen so could I once again be cheeky and ask you all to keep spreading the word because the more people who know about it –and buy it- the better.

One other thing which would help is of course, the film version and I am still working hard to make that happen. The stumbling block at the moment is the financing although we are making progress with that so fingers crossed. I’m also in tentative talks about a new movie based on my previous novel, Top Dog which would be quite awesome!

And finally, on the subject of Top Dog, work on the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy is progressing nicely. It’s much darker and more violent than the first two books but the plot line is quite possibly the best I’ve ever come up with. I’m aiming for a publication date in the spring and will release more details closer to that point.

Laters…

Men are from Mars, women just want Mars. And perhaps a Twix.

sex, masturbation, vibrator, bullet, chocolate, football, women, oral, orgasm, pornographyThere’s a great deal of talk in the media today about a survey which claims that almost a quarter of all women would rather give up sex than chocolate.

The reporting, naturally, is full of inferences and double entendre’s but it is generally and inevitably slanted toward the female of the species and as always with such things, attempts to undermine the average bloke by inferring he is a poor substitute for a Dime bar.

However, all of this reporting has missed one very important fact. A fact which actually sits at the very heart of the ongoing battle of the sexes and the position we blokes currently find ourselves in.

I won’t go into it all too deeply because I’ve written about it plenty of times before and in reality, I don’t really need to. Instead, let me just ask the males reading this two simple questions:

A)     How would you react if you’re partner joked that she’d rather forgo you than Dairy Milk?

B)      How would your partner react if you jokingly told her that you’d rather give up her than football?

Let me take a punt here and say that most of you will provide something similar to the following answers:

A)     Make some smart arsed comment along the lines of ‘I’ll just pop down the shops now then’ or simply laugh it off and then instantly forget it.

B)      Either she would: take it personally and go into a sulk AND log it into her memory bank to be wheeled out at some point in the future as proof that I didn’t care/love her AND she would almost certainly use it as the basis for some kind of future test to prove my love/commitment OR I wouldn’t dare ask that for the reasons already outlined.

Do I really need say any more? We really do need to start manning up a bit…

football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritance

As (hopefully) most people know by now, my new book Wings of a Sparrow was published last weekend and is currently selling ahead of expectations which is both awesome and humbling. As yet, it’s only available on Amazon but the iTunes version should be available any day now which should boost sales even further.

Anyway, what I wanted to say is thanks to everyone who has downloaded it thus far and to those of you who have helped spread the word around the on-line community.

For indie authors such as myself (because that’s what going wholly digital actually means I now am) word of mouth is the best publicity we can possibly have which is why I try and involve my readers (that’s you guys) in the whole process.

As I’ve said thousands of times, the reader is the most important person in the entire publishing process and that’s never been more true than it is in these days of kindles and the like.

So once again, thanks and please, keep spreading the word because if people keep buying them, I’ll keep writing them. On which note, in response to both feedback and sales, I’m currently working on the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy. I won’t say too much at this point but I can tell you that it’s already shaping up to be the best (and most violent) book of the three.

Should be ready by late spring.