Best known for penning the multi-award winning film, Green Street, I have fifteen book on my backlist as well as a further two films.
Details of my work and extremely varied life can be found within this very blog!
My blog post of yesterday provided an interesting but sadly inevitable reaction from some of my more vocal left-wing social media followers.
Yet as I waded through the usual annual vitriol accusing it of being racist, pro-war, etc, etc, it occurred to me that much of their disdain for the poppy stems not from the idea of remembrance or even the fear of causing some outdated imperialistic upset, but because of something much more fundamental.
For the more I read, the more obvious it became that the reason why so many of them seem to have an issue with the poppy is because they regard it as being right-wing. And perish the thought that they could or would show any kind of support for anything which doesn’t sit within the ‘left is right and right is always wrong’ idealism which underpins everything they think.
In many ways, this is why so many of them have been screwed up by the abuse scandal currently rocking, well pretty much everything.
For whilst the socialists have happily ranted at Trump or May for anything they could consider even remotely dodgy (and it didn’t even have to be true) they now face the quandary of having to react to the fact that so many of their own are being exposed as being ‘at it’.
This is especially true of the entertainment industry where they’re now even turning on their own such is the fear of being dragged into some scandal or other. Speaking as an interested observer, I have to say that this almost Stalinesque implosion is highly amusing to watch although I have to say that the hypocrisy we’re seeing from certain quarters is beyond shameful.
However, to return to the more important issue of remembrance, speaking as both a veteran, a patriot and as someone who firmly believes that the poppy is and should always be firmly beyond politics, I would urge those on the left who have an issue with the poppy to think about what it actually represents as opposed to what they think it does.
Because the truth is that the poppy is a symbol of remembrance and that’s all it is. And left or right, we all owe the men and women who’s names are engraved on stones and monuments around the globe the courtesy of affording them a little respect by honouring their sacrifice.
In a little over a week, just as I do ever year, I will be taking part in the Remembrance Day parade in the centre of London.
Usually, as a veteran of the South Atlantic campaign, I would be marching with the Falklands Veterans but this year, I’ll be with a new group made up of people who served with the Harrier Force. I can’t wait.
Inevitably, the build up to the day has seen my Facebook and Twitter feeds fill up with posts about the poppy and how it has become politicised to the extent that some people will not wear it for fear of what they think it represents.
Good for them I say. This is a free country (kind of) and whilst I don’t agree with their thinking, I am happy that they have the choice to wear one or not.
However, what I am not happy about is the fact that so many of these people seem so willing to attack those who hold contrary views and often using the most appalling of claims. In the last hour I’ve seen accusations that the poppy is everything from racist and fascist to a pro-war symbol.
Such talk is beyond disrespectful.
I don’t care if you want to wear a poppy or not, but what I do care about is the fact that by attacking it, you dishonour the memory of the brave men and women whose names are engraved on headstones around the globe.
For the simple truth of the matter is that the ONLY reason you have the choice to wear one or not is because they made the ultimate sacrifice on your behalf.
The very least you could do is to show their memory some respect by not attacking those who wish to honour them by wearing a red flower.
You may or may not have noticed given the lack of coverage in the mainstream media, but on Saturday 7th October, well in excess of 30,000 people from all corners of these Islands marched peacefully and relatively silently, through the centre of London.
The Football Lads Alliance was on the move, and I am proud to say that I was one of them.
Inevitably, the movement has come under all sorts of attacks from all kinds of places but I’m not going to respond to them here because I don’t have to. Not because it isn’t my place, which it isn’t, but because I’ve always believed that once you step onto the back foot, you’ve already lost the battle. Especially when it comes to people who have been suckered into the ‘left is right and right is always wrong’ mantra.
I would however, like to talk about one aspect of this which rarely seems to be given any real attention and that is this: Using nothing more than social media, how did John Meighan, a relatively average Tottenham supporter manage to galvanise the world of football fandom to such an extent that supporters from every club in the UK and beyond were prepared to set aside rivalries and even outright hatred and walk together in almost perfect harmony?
The answer is actually astonishingly simple. He merely took the first step and offered a voice to the politically disenfranchised. As soon as he’d done that, success was inevitable.
For the truth is that what makes the Football Lads Alliance work is that it isn’t about right or left, it’s about right or wrong. That’s what appeals to the legions of people across this country who have just had enough. Not just of being ignored or even demonised by the established political parties, but of being taken for a ride. Indeed, it’s best summed up by this quote:
‘The alarm has been going off for a while but the ordinary working man kept pressing the snooze button until finally, he decided that he had to get up and go do his job.’
What underpins that, and the thing which in many ways describes the USP of the FLA, is the fact that it isn’t being helmed by a Corbyn or Farage type figure with a self-serving agenda but is instead, headed up by one of us. A working class man who shares our experience, our discontent and our belief that as a strong and growing collective, we are finally starting to develop not just a voice, but something else that has been suppressed for far too long; pride.
Indeed, the one word I heard over and over again on Saturday was proud. Proud of being there, proud of being a part of something and proud of being British.
What happens next is down to the main man but whatever, whenever and wherever it is, the message to the British government will be the same. Whatever the source, whatever the warped idealism or motivation, whoever the target and whatever the cost, the time has come for the authorities to stop pandering to the snowflakes and take the fight to the enemy in our midst. Stop them, whatever it takes.
I’ll be there, with tens of thousands of others. Front and centre, proud as punch.
As you may or may not have noticed, I have been quiet of late.
To be honest, much of this has been to do with the fact that I’ve become so pissed off with the state of this country and the continuing failure to deliver Brexit that I was worried that if I went on a rant, I’d be unable to restrain myself and would carry on until I wrote something which would end up with me sitting in a cell somewhere.
OK, that’s not strictly true. The truth is that I stopped blogging about the political landscape because I was becoming increasingly frustrated. Let’s face it, things are so screwed up at the moment that the hardest part about ranting about it is knowing where to start let alone stop. I mean, Sadiq Khan…. seriously?
So I have instead been channeling my angst into various projects and dragging them to the point where they’re a rewrite away from launch. These include Billy’s Log 2, the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy and a new script I’ve been working on with a lawyer chum of mine about the power of the universe.
Indeed, this last project has been especially interesting of late especially for someone like me who enjoys a bit of karma. Something which will become even more evident fairly shortly.
However, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that there is always a however, my enthusiasm for the future of my country has been rekindled. For next Saturday (7th) I’ll be one of many tens of thousands marching in London to protest against this governments continuing failure to confront extremist terrorism in our country.
Yes, the Football Lads Alliance are taking to the streets again, and this time, the ranks will be swelled by a large contingent from the veteran community.
I’m not going to go too deeply into the specifics here (if you want them, click here) other than to say that despite what certain factions are attempting to claim, the Football Lads Alliance is neither political nor racist. Indeed, it’s fairly safe to say that from day one the leadership have been at pains to create a totally inclusive movement by weeding out anyone who might have anything other than the core message at heart. I certainly wouldn’t be involved were that not the case but here I am.
So if, like me, you’ve become sick of hearing that the only way to combat terrorism is to be reactive, if you’re angry at photo’s of dead children on the front pages, tired of hashtags, vigils and coloured lights on the Wembley Arch and increasingly frustrated at the governments reluctance to go on the offensive against this cancer which exists amongst us, then come and join me.
It’s time for the silent majority to take a stand. Front and centre.
As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I am a huge fan.
To me it’s a great source of both news and amusement as well as being a fantastic way to promote my books and well, what I do. Most importantly for me at least, it’s a great way to interact with readers and it’s fair to say that I’ve made some great mates though twitter with I hope, many more to come.
However, I’ve also encountered some proper dicks over the years and received more than my share of abuse from all kinds of trolls. In recent months for example, besides the usual ‘shit writer’ fair I’ve been accused of condoning child abuse, being sexist, homophobic and racist. None of which is particularly nice I’m sure you’ll agree but, and this is the crux of this whole matter, I know how to deal with it. And by that I mean me. Not twitter, not my ISP and not the police, but me.
And at the heart of that is one simple statement, ‘it’s not personal, it’s Twitter’.
The day you start screaming blue murder about something mean said about you by some anonymous idiot on a social networking site is the day your life begins to spiral out of control. No, it’s not nice to be accused of being a Nazi and I’m fairly certain that it’s not nice to read that someone wants to burn you alive but by reacting, you do exactly what the person who wrote it wants you to do. You give them power by taking them seriously. And power is all they’re after.
This is where people are getting it wrong when they claim Twitter should be clamping down on trolls because Twitter doesn’t have to. You do, as the individual. It’s called personal responsibility.
Would you walk down a dark alley in a dodgy area in the middle of the night? No. Would you leave you front door wide open if you went on holiday? No. You take appropriate action to protect yourself.
So why don’t you apply that same thinking when it comes to social media?
Ignore, delete, block. Those three words should be beaten into the brains of everyone who uses either Twitter or Facebook because those three actions place you totally in control of what appears on your feeds.
And if it’s not on your feed, why do you care? Seriously, why?
Social media isn’t like real life. If someone is bad mouthing you to colleagues at work, there are processes in place to deal with it. If you’re having trouble with neighbours, then you tackle it face to face or if it’s beyond that, involve the authorities.
But social media is simple words. And unlike sticks and stones, they don’t break bones.
Yes, of course there are exceptions just as there are to every rule and yes, there will be instances where the law should and must get involved. But in the main, it’s a personal choice to react, ignore, delete or simply hit the block button which Twitter already provides for you to use in just such cases.
If you don’t understand that and don’t accept that in many ways, Twitter is the greatest manifestation of free speech we have, then rather than scream blue murder about the need for censorship (yes, censorship) why not take total control yourself and employ the ultimate sanction, delete your account.
Because you do actually have that option at your disposal and speaking as a Twitter fan, if you do indeed think that social media is there to serve you and not the other way round, then I’d urge you to do just that.
I never get bored of saying this, truly, I don’t. A huge thanks to everyone who is keeping The Crew at #1 on the Amazon and iTunes sports charts. We’re now approaching the end of our 6th year at the top of the tree which however you look at it, is quite something.
Top Dog is also sitting pretty as are most of my other titles which proves what I said years ago, that if you give people what they want as opposed to what you hope they might like, they’ll buy it.
Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.
As some of you may be aware, a movement called The Football Lads Alliance has sprung up from within the supporting world.
Formed in the wake of the London Bridge atrocity on June 7th to protest at the lack of direct action being taken to counter extremism in the UK, it grew rapidly to the point where, on June 24th, almost 10,000 people took part in a march in the centre of London.
So successful was this march, and so rapidly has the group grown, that as a result of pressure from the members a second march will take place in London on October 7th. Current estimates are that well over 40, 000 people will attend, not just football fans from every club in England and beyond, but men and women from all faiths and political backgrounds who have one common desire: to see an end to all forms of extremism.
Full details of FLA including its mission statement and details of the march (which is taking place with the full consent of the Metropolitan Police) can be found below but if you require any further information, please drop me a line and I’ll point you in the right direction.
I shall, from the outset, put my cards on the table and say that I am, at least numerically speaking, old. I don’t feel it mind (and I certainly don’t act it) but it is fair to say that at 58 I’m much closer to my closing scene than I am to the opening act.
The reason I mention this is because for fairly obvious reasons, my age impacts on my writing output. Rule number three in Doug’s Guide To Writing is ‘write what you know’ and since I know more about being a male over 50 in 2017 than I do about being a teenage lad in 2017, my central characters tend to be older and I hope, more realistic. There will after all, be a part of me in all of them.
Thankfully, this is working to my advantage. For example when I worked on We Still Kill The Old Way it received a great deal of press because of the age of the main cast. Great for me, the film and the actors involved, most of whom were actually older than I am which leads me nicely into the central reason for this blog.
You see generally speaking, when I start thinking about a project, be it book or film, one of the first things I consider is who is going to read or watch it. But recently, when it comes to screenplays, I also think about who might be can cast. Something which helps me actually create the role.
Therefore with that in mind, what follows are 5 reasons why these days my mind tends to wander to those actors who have actually been around for a while.
Choice – We have a huge untapped source of talent in this country and it isn’t lurking in acting classes or talent schools, it’s working in small theatres or sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Sad for them but great for writers like me when you’re working on something and putting together a dream cast because you know that there’s a bigger chance of actually getting them.
Gratitude – The main reason why they’re sitting at home is because the phone rarely rings. And it rarely rings because there are so few decent roles being written for people over 50 (let alone 60 or 70). As a consequence, if you create these age specific roles and cast accordingly, not only are the actors grateful, but they give you everything from vast experience to PR gold!
Talent – To me, it’s criminal that all this amazing acting talent is being allowed to go to waste. Aside from the ones I’ve already worked with, I can think of ten amazing actors and actresses I’d crawl over broken glass to hear reading my words yet I doubt one has had a decent film or TV role in ten years. That’s tragic, not least because, as has been proven with We Still Kill, the public genuinely want to see these great actors on screen.
Fun – If you don’t think working with legends of the entertainment world is fun, you really shouldn’t be writing screenplays.
Inspiration – When an actor you’ve watched for years and who you have nothing but respect for comes up and not only praises your script but thanks you for the opportunity you’ve given them, it’s both humbling and gratifying. But equally, such praise drives you on to create more of the same which is exactly why I currently have two projects in development that will feature ensemble casts of actors over 60. And d’you know what? I can’t wait to get them moving primarily because above all, they’re going to be fun. And isn’t that why we got into this business in the first place?
The problem of course, is that the production process isn’t down to the writers or the actors, it’s down to those mythical beasts called producers. So what’s really needed are a few of those to step up and take a chance or two.
The talent is there, the ideas are there and as movies such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (1&2) and Philomena have proved, the audience is certainly there. So how about it?
I recently made the comment that the difference between being an author and being a screenwriter is the same as the difference between an immaculate conception and an egg donation.
This seemed to cause some confusion in certain circles although as someone who writes both novels and scripts, it seems to me to be a totally accurate statement. Therefore, what follows is a slightly tongue-in-cheek guide to the essential difference between the creative processes involved in what are after all, two very different writing disciplines.
As an author, when you write a novel, it is your baby. You sit, plot, write, edit, rewrite, edit again and then when you’re happy, you send it off to one or two trusted mates for their comments.
Dependent on what they say, you will either rewrite or polish your manuscript and then take the plunge into the real world and send it off to either your agent or your publisher. This is the terrifying time for all authors as these will be the first people within the industry to see, and judge, your latest efforts.
In response to their comments, you’ll either do more polishing or more rewriting after which it’ll go off to a proper editor who will fix your appalling grammar. Only then will it head off in the direction of the actual production process and eventually, print (or internet).
Yet from concept to shelf or kindle, the writer retains pretty much total creative control and as such, the finished article remains in essence, all your own work. Indeed, once it’s published the whole thing becomes about you and you alone. Have you ever seen a book publicised as ‘edited by….’? Of course not.
This is what I mean by immaculate conception. You’ve created something from nothing and now face the consequences. Be it praise or grief.
A screenplay is a totally different animal because in terms of the creative process, you as the writer have very little power over what finally ends up on-screen. Yes, you might well come up with the initial concept and you will certainly put the initial layer of flesh on the bones but generally speaking, your place is and always will be on the bottom rung of a very long development ladder. Indeed, a script will go through so many rewrites it might as well be written in pencil and it’s certainly safe to say that by the time it gets to the point when a director calls ‘action’, the shooting script will be very different from your initial draft
There are of course, very specific reasons for this be they creative improvements the director has made or something as mundane as location, cast or budget. Yet however much it might irritate you as the writer, everything is underpinned by one very simple fact and that is that everyone involved in the process wants to get the best thing that they possibly can onto the screen.
And that is the key difference. For unlike a novel, a script is a true collaboration and your pages are usually the starting point. Or to use my original statement, the egg.
You see, simple.
There are of course, occasions when the two elements meet and an author ends up adapting their own novel for the screen as I did with Top Dog. Whilst an interesting experience, it was quite possibly the single most challenging thing I’ve done as a writer and whilst I learned a lot, it’s not something I would advise an author to do unless they have either a very thick skin, a good therapist or access to a shotgun.
I have recently been in Belarus. Am amazing country full of amazing people.
This is not however, an attempt to boost the tourism trade of a former Eastern Bloc nation. It is rather, a wake up call. For whilst in the wonderful city of Brest, I had just that.
You see shortly before I left the UK, the issue of gender neutrality had hit the headlines. And as I sat in a bar with my hosts one night, I attempted to explain what it was all about and why it had suddenly become a big thing. But I couldn’t. Because I was too busy laughing, with them, at how utterly ridiculous the whole thing is.
Now I am well aware that there are people who struggle with their sexuality and yes, I have every sympathy with those who have issues relating to their gender. But the fact remains that they are a tiny minority of the population and whilst sensitive to their plight and totally supportive of the provision of whatever help and support this nation can provide for them, it is madness for our entire way of life to be turned upside down simply to accommodate their feelings. Indeed, one could, and indeed should, argue that it would be selfish of them to want us to.
Not that we would need to. For the truth is that more often than not, it isn’t them who are offended at all. Instead, in the vast majority of cases involving the mass manipulation of British society (which is exactly what this is), it will be some power crazed left-wing (and usually white skinned) fascist sitting in an ivory tax-payer funded tower somewhere. Desperate to find some fresh way of proving that the British people are scum, they will latch onto any cause, however crazed, and manufacture a sense of fake moral outrage which they will use to fuel their ongoing war against us. And we, the silent majority, rendered powerless against them after decades of political correctness, roll over for fear of causing offence.
The irony is that by our very nature, we are a tolerant lot and in the main, as history has proven many times, will do whatever we can to help and support anyone in need. A simple fact proven by the millions, billions donated to charity each year. But this isn’t enough for the libturds who are fuelled by the need for the ultimate decimation of our traditional way of life. One only has to look at the continuing onslaught against Brexit voters to see that.
Well I have news for these self-important power-driven twats, your time is coming to an end. Because you have finally pushed the patience and tolerance of the British people to the point where we have had enough of this utter madness.
The fact is that offence isn’t given, it can only be taken. More importantly, despite what you so obviously believe, it can’t be taken on someone else’s behalf. So if hearing ‘ladies and gentlemen’ being announced on the tube or watching someone’s daughter pretend to be a ballerina in an advert on TV causes you angst, then might I suggest that the problem lies with you. Not with the great British public.
So please, do us all a favour. Stop trying to impose your crazed, warped doctrine on us and let us get on with being decent, hard-working British people. Because despite what you want to think, the vast majority of us don’t actually have a problem with any minority group at all.
I first posted the following blog in the spring of 2012, the year that footballer Andre Gray posted a series of homophobic tweets which saw him spread across the sports pages of the British press.
You would hope that things would have changed in recent years but last night, as I watched the Gareth Thomas documentary on homophobia it became horrifically clear that nothing much has changed at all. And to me, the reason is because the finger of blame is far too easily being pointed in entirely the wrong direction.
To be fair to Gareth Thomas, at least he had a go at taking the game to task and the appalling car crash interviews given by Gordon Taylor and Simone Pound of the PFA coupled with the refusal of the FA to respond to him underlined everything I say below. But where were the interviews with current Premier League players or coaching staff? Why no contribution from the likes of Lineker or Shearer?
Instead, he fell into the now traditional trap of attacking the supporters using social media to try and underline his case. Consequently, by suggesting that the reason why no players have come out as gay was due to potential abuse from the terraces, all he really did was further demonise the very people who will ultimately win the war against homophobia in football. The supporters.
As I said, the blog below was written five years ago and it angers me that I’m being forced to repost it. Because the fact that we’re still without an openly gay footballer in England isn’t simply tragic, it’s shameful.
As you may or may not know, Downing Street will today play host to a summit which will discuss, amongst other things, the issues of racism and homophobia.
Leaving aside the simple truth that I actually think our PM has more important things to be doing at the moment, the reason this summit is taking place is apparently to take a fresh look at both ‘problems’ in the face of recent events and, in the case of homophobia, in the wake of the BBC documentary which looked at the lack of any openly gay players in the professional game.
Now my views on racism at football are in black and white for all to see, be that on this very blog or in my book Kicking Off. Homophobia however, is something I have never really discussed before and there is a reason for that.
You see speaking as a football fan, it is my assertion that there isn’t actually a problem to address at the moment and nor will there be until such time as we have a player with the bottle to actually come out and admit to his sexuality. At that point things will change immediately because then the anti-homophobia campaign will have an actual focal point or to be blunt, a potential victim. As a result, then, and only then, will we know if we actually have a major problem at all. Because at the moment, it is all supposition.
That is I know, a very simplistic way of looking at things but let’s face it, once inside the confines of a ground, football fans become fairly simplistic beings. All too often the concept of right and wrong is neutralised by raw emotion and whilst any form of abusive chanting is unacceptable, the real key to stopping it isn’t legislation, it’s by changing the mindset of the minority who do it.
The precedent of course, is racist chanting. For as black players made more inroads into the game, supporters eventually began to realise how futile and pathetic abusing them was and that soon became so ingrained in their psyche that to even utter a racist term stopped occurring to all but the most rabid of morons. Indeed, far from knocking football for being racist we should be applauding it for driving the anti-racism message deep into the heart of British society.
I believe that exactly the same thing will happen with homophobia and I would argue that it would happen in a fairly short space of time if not immediately. After all, one only has to look at the TV to see how much has changed with regard to British societies acceptance of homosexuality in recent years.
Yet as the noises being made ahead of this summit clearly seem to prove, both the game and the authorities would like the great British public to believe that the second an openly gay player steps onto a field, the terraces will resound with cries of ‘they don’t like it up ‘em’ or ‘I’m free’ and the sight of fans mincing up and down behind the goals. Indeed the reason I sat down and wrote this very blog is because I have been so offended by some of the things I have been hearing this morning. Football fans may not be perfect, but the suggestion that more than a tiny minority are genuinely homophobic is beyond offensive,
The question of course, is why such things are being inferred and the answer, like most things to do with the great game, is fairly obvious. It’s a basic diversion tactic. Because if you point the finger of blame toward the fans, you don’t actually have to apportion any blame to yourselves.
Like it or not, if you are a pro-footballer be it at Old Trafford or Roots Hall, the nature of the beast is such that getting abuse from the terrace is going to be part and parcel of your career. Brutal though this might be, it is a nailed on fact and if you don’t like it or don’t think you will be able to take it, then don’t do it. It really is as simple as that.
The key to dealing with that abuse is to understand why it happens and what it actually means. Because for the most part, vitriol will only be coming at you from opposing fans if you’re pissing them off by doing a good job. And as long as you’re doing a good job, as recent history has proven only too well, your own supporters will not only forgive you anything but they will continue to heap adulation on you. Since they are the ones who ultimately pay your wages, they’re the only ones you really have to worry about.
However, if that grief comes not from the terraces but from your peers, especially your own team mates, it is something else entirely because it goes beyond banter from the crowd, it becomes personal.
Anyone who has ever been in a changing room knows that many of them are like a scene from Animal Farm (the George Orwell book, not the porn movie!) and any individual who shows even the remotest sign of being in any way different becomes fair game. Remember the stick Graham Le Saux used to get simply because he has a brain in his head? Much of that focussed on his supposed sexuality and let’s face it, if you were gay and saw that as a potential warning of things to come, why on earth would you want to put yourself in the firing line?
Of course not all players are like that and I’m sure that there are certain changing rooms which are delightful places to be post-training. But there are plenty which aren’t, especially if you’re not one of the towel-snapping, prank playing, tart shagging brigade and it is that ‘closed shop’ lad mentality which David Cameron and the various cronies and cling-ons should be discussing not the old chestnut of fears of abuse from the terraces.
But that will only happen when the game actually admits it has a problem in-house and we all know how reluctant it is to do that. Especially when you have a mute and already demonised scapegoat ready to hand.
Thanks to all those people who continue to keep both The Crew and Top Dog at the top of the various download charts. It really is humbling. Could I please ask that if you have read either book you leave a review of some kind as they are a great help both to me and to potential readers. And don’t forget, my latest comedy ebook Wings of a Sparrow is also available both in print and to download.