All posts by Dougie Brimson

The Joy of Farting…

It might not come as too much of a shock to hear that I am not an animal lover. Indeed, I would actually go so far as to say that the only interest I have in anything four-legged relates to the potential of it ending up on a plate in front of me.

Now I realise that this might offend some people, but I simply do not see the point in pets. Dogs seem to do little but eat, shit and make demands on your time whilst cats seem to do little or nothing at all.

As for the ‘companionship’ argument, if I want to spend time with dumb animals, I can switch on the telly and watch Big Brother.

In spite of this, I have over the years, somehow ended up with various beasts living under my roof and currently share living space with two goldfish and two kittens. One of which seems hell bent on inflicting as much pain on me as is possible as the numerous scratches on my hands will testify.

The other however…. well, I have to admit that I am kind of warming to her. Not because she is cute or fluffy, but because of something she did last night. She farted.

Now I have heard plenty of dogs fart over the years and have witnessed on too many occasions to recall that ‘what the hell was that?’ face that all canines seem to be able to do. However, I have never before heard a cat fart. To be honest, the very idea of them doing it at all had never even occurred to me.

What made it all the more impressive was that she did it not once, but three times and with a nice little pause in between each squeak. She actually looked quite pleased with herself when she’d finished. It was a joy to witness.

Reflecting on this later, it struck me as quite significant that of the two kittens, it was the female that had performed. After all, for the majority of human females farting is not something to be celebrated at all. At least not within sight or sound of a male. Instead, it is a bodily function to be carried out as discreetly as possible or even, so some women would have me believe, never at all!

Well, I say discreetly… I recall an occasion in hospital when an elderly nurse was standing in front of me removing a drip needle from my arm and she not only farted but lifted a leg up to do it. Then she just carried on as if nothing had happened whilst every male within ear shot was dying with laughter.

But let’s be honest, for us males farting is a source of much humour. As a youth in a house with a mad father and four brothers, we once kept a microphone set up and a cassette player on permanent pause with the sole function of recording every fart exhausted. The subsequent C90 tape being a source of huge hilarity to us much to the disgust to my mother and poor sister. Latterly, ‘Atomic Fart’ was one of the first apps I downloaded onto my IPhone and remains one of my favoured tactics for reinforcing my child like persona to any women who might doubt it.

Furthermore, the farting scene in the movie ‘Blazing saddles’ remains one of my all time favourite movie moments closely followed by Jim Carey letting one loose in the lift in ‘Liar, Liar’.

Yet aside from cheering us up, there is another function the humble fart performs. It signifies a passage (pun intended).

After all, when a relationship arrives at the point where your partner feels comfortable enough to pass wind in your presence (and I’m not talking about her sticking your head under the covers or anything like that) you know that she’s reached that special point where she’ll be feeling safe enough with you to actually be herself. And that’s an important point in any relationship.

One my little kitten has obviously reached with me.

Safety First!

Whenever I am writing, there will inevitably come a point where an alarm bell rings. More often than not it will be heard once I’ve already written something and will involve a distant voice asking “do you really want to say that?” (OK I know a voice isn’t strictly speaking a bell, but if you want to be pedantic, I don’t actually hear it, it’s merely a thought that springs up from the recesses of what passes for my brain).

Now if life has taught me one thing, it’s to pay heed to warnings. After all, when a PC asks ‘do you really want to delete this file’ or a woman in mid-argument stops, folds her arms and poses the question ‘do you really want to go down that road?’ whatever decision is made is going to have consequences for someone. Usually dire ones. And so that decision, whatever it might be, should only be made after considering what those potential consequences might be and weighing up the pro’s and con’s of each.

Of course the default decision for all men is ‘no’ whilst for women, it’s yes. In my experience female’s tend to worry about consequences ‘post’ action as opposed to ‘pre’ but then again, they are devious enough to either hide whatever damage they have done or blame someone else for making them do it. Failing that, they can usually call on a man to sort things out for them. And before anyone says anything in response to that, I have lost count of the number of computers I have had to sort out for women who have deleted things even after being warned not to.

Anyway, to return to the case in point…as far as writing is concerned, I usually hear this voice when I commit something to paper that I know is either going to kick up a storm, cause controversy, offend someone or even attract personal criticism (or worse).

In the past this has included such things as my various attacks on the police (the self-serving Army of occupation), the government (cowards), the game (inept), the anti-racist movements (whoo whoo! Keep that gravy train running at all costs lads), the extreme political groups (please wake up to reality chaps), Helen Chamberlain (geezer bird) and gay footballers (for fucks sake, it’s 2010 not 1910!) and in the majority of cases, I’ve gone ahead because I have felt so strongly about something that not to say it would have detracted from the argument I’d been making and I’ll have been confident enough to back up what I’ll have written in the flesh if need be.

I say the majority of cases but in truth, I can only think of one instance where I wrote something and then deleted it. Ironically, it wasn’t in a non-fiction book at all, but in my novel, Billy’s Log. 

I won’t go into details about it here but suffice to say, it was very relevant at the time of writing and to be honest, is just as relevant today (as is the rest of the book I think). However, for some reason it didn’t sit well with me and so I pulled it but I’ve regretted that decision ever since because I should have had the courage to say what I wanted to say.

I mention all this now because I sat down at my computer this morning and began writing a blog when all of a sudden I heard ‘do you really want to say that?’ And as I read back over what I’d written, I realised that there was only one answer…..NO!

You see when it comes to the battle of the sexes, even I know that there are some skirmishes which are best avoided! Especially when one runs the very real risk of shooting oneself in the foot!!

Safety First!

Whenever I am writing, there will inevitably come a point where an alarm bell rings. More often than not it will be heard once I’ve already written something and will involve a distant voice asking “do you really want to say that?” (OK I know a voice isn’t strictly speaking a bell, but if you want to be pedantic, I don’t actually hear it, it’s merely a thought that springs up from the recesses of what passes for my brain).

Now if life has taught me one thing, it’s to pay heed to warnings. After all, when a PC asks ‘do you really want to delete this file’ or a woman in mid-argument stops, folds her arms and poses the question ‘do you really want to go down that road?’ whatever decision is made is going to have consequences for someone. Usually dire ones. And so that decision, whatever it might be, should only be made after considering what those potential consequences might be and weighing up the pro’s and con’s of each.

Of course the default decision for all men is ‘no’ whilst for women, it’s yes. In my experience female’s tend to worry about consequences ‘post’ action as opposed to ‘pre’ but then again, they are devious enough to either hide whatever damage they have done or blame someone else for making them do it. Failing that, they can usually call on a man to sort things out for them. And before anyone says anything in response to that, I have lost count of the number of computers I have had to sort out for women who have deleted things even after being warned not to.

Anyway, to return to the case in point…as far as writing is concerned, I usually hear this voice when I commit something to paper that I know is either going to kick up a storm, cause controversy, offend someone or even attract personal criticism (or worse).

In the past this has included such things as my various attacks on the police (the self-serving Army of occupation), the government (cowards), the game (inept), the anti-racist movements (whoo whoo! Keep that gravy train running at all costs lads), the extreme political groups (please wake up to reality chaps), Helen Chamberlain (geezer bird) and gay footballers (for fucks sake, it’s 2010 not 1910!) and in the majority of cases, I’ve gone ahead because I have felt so strongly about something that not to say it would have detracted from the argument I’d been making and I’ll have been confident enough to back up what I’ll have written in the flesh if need be.

I say the majority of cases but in truth, I can only think of one instance where I wrote something and then deleted it. Ironically, it wasn’t in a non-fiction book at all, but in my novel, Billy’s Log. 

I won’t go into details about it here but suffice to say, it was very relevant at the time of writing and to be honest, is just as relevant today (as is the rest of the book I think). However, for some reason it didn’t sit well with me and so I pulled it but I’ve regretted that decision ever since because I should have had the courage to say what I wanted to say.

I mention all this now because I sat down at my computer this morning and began writing a blog when all of a sudden I heard ‘do you really want to say that?’ And as I read back over what I’d written, I realised that there was only one answer…..NO!

You see when it comes to the battle of the sexes, even I know that there are some skirmishes which are best avoided! Especially when one runs the very real risk of shooting oneself in the foot!!

On the road…

I am, by my own admission, a petrol head. I don’t care what it is, car, bike or boat, if it has an engine, I’m there.

Two stroke, four stroke, diesel, rotary, even gas turbine… I don’t care. I love them all equally and thanks to the delights of my engineering background, am more than capable of pissing about with any of them for hours.

Now being a petrol head, it stands to reason that I have a love of motorsport and since I was a nipper, there has been one particular discipline that has captured my heart. I’ve watched it, raced it, I even put it on TV and to this day, I cannot get enough of it. I speak of the sport of Formula One Stock Car racing.

Known as ‘the working mans motorsport’ on account of its inner-city roots, it is finally, after years of prodding by hundreds if not thousands of people, about to come to the BBC. I won’t say anything more, just check this out.  Must watch TV

I cannot wait. Really, I can’t. And in case you were wondering, yes, that really is my old stock car in the picture. Happy days.

Of course being a petrol head and a bloke, some people assume that I must have certain opinions relating to women drivers but this is not the case. Indeed, I can honestly say that most of the women I know are excellent behind the wheel. I certainly feel safer in their passenger seats than I do with most of men I’ve had the misfortune to be driven by recently

That said, I do have quite firmly entrenched opinions about cars. Or to be more specific, what cars men should or should not drive. And these are based not on what’s under the bonnet or even how fast they go, but on what they look like.

As far as I’m concerned, men should drive cars that are big and butch. Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, big Mercedes, BMW’s or Audi saloons fit the bill perfectly. Personally, I consider anyone who drives a Chrysler 300 to have both testicles firmly in place because they look like they actually run on testosterone.

Conversely, whilst it would be reasonable to assume that given their performance, I would be ok with men who drive sports cars, this is not the case. If I see a male driving a Porsche for example, one of two things springs to mind; mid-life crisis or gay. Similarly, I consider convertibles to be the preserve of women. Period. The only exception being if they are old and American.

On the subject of ‘non-blokey’ cars, any male who drives anything with either ‘hybrid’ or ‘people carrier’ in the description clearly falls under the tag of ‘new man’ (for which read ‘sad man’) and should be ashamed of themselves. Anyone without ovaries who drives a Smart car clearly has problems.

4×4’s are another vehicle I have issues with. Both BMW and Mercedes versions have always had something ‘girlie’ about them whilst the same thing has also begun to infect the Range Rover. Once the ultimate man’s vehicle, I seem to see so many of them being driven by blondes these days that there’s no way they can be considered masculine any more. As for the large pickups that have begun to infest our roads, whilst they undoubtedly have their merits and are obviously de rigour in the US of A, here in the UK they do have certain connotations associated with them. And who wants that?

The irony is of course, that I drive none of the above. For whilst my two previous cars were old Jaguar XJ’s (possibly the all time classic English lads motor) these days I drive a VW Golf. Not exactly blokey I’ll admit but I do love it to bits.

Then again, I’m confident enough in my sexuality to drive what I like. And besides, as far as I’m concerned, the ultimate male vehicle doesn’t have four wheels at all. Just the two.

 

 

The Queens English….

As someone who uses words as a way of earning a living, it would be fairly reasonable to assume that I have an extensive vocabulary. Trust me, this is not the case.

On more occasions than I care to remember, I have tied myself in knots trying to be clever by using words I don’t even know the full meaning of and trust me, that is never a good thing on live television. Especially when I’ll have been there to speak as an ‘expert’ on a specific subject and will have had precise points I wanted to make. The consequence being that instead of coming across as any kind of authority, I’ll have appeared as nothing more than a thick yob.

Quite why I fell into this trap escapes me because as I’ve always told anyone who wants to write, you must know your market because if you do that, you will always give it what it wants. Given that my market is ‘me’ (and blokes like me) it doesn’t take a genius to understand that simple is best. Be it simple to read or simple to listen to.

I was reminded of this basic truth whilst putting together my new website (www.dougiebrimson.com) because whilst it is primarily a promotional tool for my work, its secondary function is to promote…. well, me! Be it as a potential colleague or as a potential speaker.

Therefore, it seems fairly reasonable to assume that trying to be too clever would be counter-productive.  Not least because when I turn up, whoever has hired me is in for something of a shock!

That’s not to say that the website has been dumbed down at all, but it was put together with the notion of ‘what you see is what you get’ at the forefront of my thinking.  Not easy when you dislike talking about yourself as I do.

I actually think it has come together very well and certainly the response thus far has been extremely positive.  However, I am aware that it is lacking a certain something… it’s not really ‘blokey’ enough. Quiet what I do about that has become something of a quandary. After all, anyone clicking on my blog will rapidly learn all they need to know about me as an individual but those that don’t might well form a very different impression.

One idea was to include a ‘comment for the day’ page but this idea is fraught with danger dependent as it would be on my mood that morning. Similarly, ‘word of the day’ would be fairly misleading given that it would inevitably infer a degree of intellect I do not possess and would fairly rapidly feature words I would never use in a million years. Remember, my favourite word is and always will be ‘bollocks’.

Another idea was ‘joke of the day’ but this was rapidly dismissed on account of my love of www.sickipedia.org and the inherent dangers that lie with that! After all, in recent months I’ve been labelled homophobic, sexist, racist and even ‘heightist’ (long story) and whilst I know that I’m none of those things, anything that adds weight to such outrageous accusations is best avoided.

So quite what I’m going to do about this remains something of a mystery. Of course I could just leave well alone but that in itself isn’t exactly blokey.

After all, tinkering is what we do!

The long and the short of it…

 Someone asked me recently why I have begun blogging given that I write for a living.

The truth, dear reader, is that it is a very good creative exercise. After all, as you may have gathered I am somewhat opinionated and have lots of things to say on lots of different things. And given that blogging provides an instant outlet for those opinions, it has proven to be quite an invaluable stress release of sorts. Something we all need at one point or another!

There is also the fact -as pointed out in a previous blog- that if you are in the mood to write, then you should write. Something, anything! Blogging is a perfect format for this as it allows you to just dive in, have a rant and climb out suitably refreshed. It certainly works for me!

However, as you might have noticed, I do tend to go on a bit and it has been suggested to me that my blogs are a bit too long.

So the question, dear reader, is do I continue with the long diatribes or should I trim them down to a couple of hundred words a time?

Thoughts?

BTW, I have finally launched my new website. The plan was to keep it as simple as possible (a bit like the subject matter!) and although it still requires some work, I’m actually quite impressed with my efforts!

Please take a look and let me know what you think. www.dougiebrimson.com

The mystery of Women.

green street, top dog, sex, vibrator, orgasm, anal, brimson, football, soccer, soldier, army, killer If you know anything about me, have read any of my books or even digested the introduction to this blog, you should be under no illusions that I am a bloke.

I like doing blokey things, acting in blokey ways and speaking in the language of bloke.

And I love blokey stuff.  For me, the Screwfix catalogue is nothing less than ‘man porn’ whilst one of the highlights of each and every month is the sound of ‘Bike’ magazine dropping on my mat.

And the older I get, the more blokey I become. Some would say this manifests itself in a lack of tolerance, impatience and my moaning about anything and everything however I prefer to regard it as increasing awareness of what’s going on around me and commenting accordingly.

But the truth is, I don’t actually see any problem with intolerance and since I’ve passed the big 5-0, I don’t really see why I should be patient about anything or anybody if I don’t want to be. After all, my times running out so it’s an extremely valuable commodity.

Sadly, it seems that I am a dying breed and the only people I blame for that are other men because we, as a sex, have allowed this to happen to us. We’ve sat back and done nothing whilst a relentless anti-man campaign has been waged against us and are now at the stage where the only real man to be seen anywhere is Jeremy Clarkson. That in itself, is horrific.

The troops at the forefront of this campaign against us are of course, women. Now for the record, most of my best friends are women and I far prefer the company of females to males. In the main, they tend to be funnier, far sharper and certainly more intelligent. But they can also be vicious when provoked. I know this, because I have a habit of provoking them. Sometimes on purpose admittedly, but mostly by accident.

There can’t be many men who know the power a steely gaze or stony silence can wield more than I because I experience them with alarming frequency. They can be terrifying. And since the ‘easy life’ element of a males DNA is one of the more influential, we quickly learn that in most cases it’s far better and safer to put up and shut up.

Woe betide any man who for example, points out to his partner that being on her period is no excuse for turning into a world class pain in the arse and since she has one every four weeks, by the age of 30 she should kind of be used to it. Similarly, were a man to point out to his other half the simple truth that whilst child birth might well be painful, it was actually what the female body is designed to do so continually referring back to it as something ‘you don’t have to go through’ is kind of pointless because we can’t possibly go through it as we don’t have a womb.

However, not poking our heads above the menstrual parapet does have its repercussions. Not least because by allowing the female sex to carry on unchallenged with what is often totally unreasonable behaviour, we almost reinforce it.

But of course the dreaded cycle only occurs every four weeks and whilst hugely powerful, it can by its very definition only be used at specific times. And so women have a far more controllable weapon system at their disposal. One which can be brought into action at a seconds notice and employed in all kinds of situations ranging from getting her what she wants to stopping him enjoying what he has.

It’s the well honed stick with which all men will be beaten at some point or another and is of course, the guilt trip. And the engine which drives the guilt trip is oppression. Centuries of it.

wife, woman, sex, slave, dating, love, romance, divorce, gay, lesbian, homosexual Now I’m the first to admit that the control exercised over women by my forebears has bordered on criminal but my generation has done more to facilitate sexual equality than any other so could someone please explain why I’m still paying for what my grandfather’s lot got up to? Yet pay we do. Me seemingly more than most.

Yet in spite of this, I have to say that I actually consider the guilt trip to be a phenomenal thing. Not simply because of its flexibility, but because if we dare accuse a woman of using it, her inevitable denial will, more often than not, actually make us feel guilty for making the accusation in the first place. How on earth can you compete against that? The simple answer is you can’t. Which takes us back nicely to ‘put up and shut up’.

As if that isn’t bad enough, these days women aren’t the only troops we have waging war against us. Oh no, these days they have allies.

The first and most dangerous are gay men. Now I’m in no way shape or form homophobic but come on. Better dressed, usually richer and more often than not happier (mostly I suspect, because they don’t have to deal with women on any kind of sexual level) what chance do we have against that lot? It’s a horrible admission to have to make but it is a fact that I rarely meet a gay guy who doesn’t have some attribute or other I’m not jealous of. A sentiment I doubt is reciprocated!

Yet it is also a fact that their mission to undermine the heterosexual male by making us look and feel bad in front of the female sex has been relentless and phenomenally successful. Not only does it show no sign of slowing down, it actually appears to be gathering pace. A prime example of this assaulted my senses last week when Gok Wan ‘did’ a male for the first time (sic) on his TV show ‘How to look good naked’. Quite where they found the 35 year old sap who featured in the show I do not know but if anyone ever utters the phrase ‘and with the final addition of a man bag…..’ to me, they will be heading for A&E before the final syllable has tailed off. And please don’t get me started on the idea of male make-up. I’m still of the opinion that any man who use hair gel is a bit suspect.

Women of course, think very differently. They throw themselves behind the teachings of Gok and the gay Gestapo so forcefully that it becomes their mission if not their duty to impose this thinking on ‘their’ men.

Sadly, there are plenty of males who do fall for all this gumph and this leads us nicely into the other army determined to make us blokes look bad. They are the middle men, The Metrosexuals. Or as I prefer to call him, the hetrogays.

If you Google metrosexual, you come up with all kinds of definitions. They are, apparently, comfortable with the concept of male grooming and up to speed with the latest fashion trends. Understanding, sympathetic and above all, more considerate of his female brethren, they are at the very least within touching distance of their feminine side and have at the bare minimum, some concept of the impact both the menstrual cycle and the menopause have on the female of the species.

They also seem keen to wear a cloak of ambiguity when it comes to their sexuality. ‘To cause confusion’ is a sentence you will often stumble across when looking for a reasonable definition. I’m not even going to think about that let alone explore it.

Now speaking as a bloke, we used to have a word for males like that. It is, to quote the great Del Trotter, tart. I’m sorry, but any man who uses moisturiser or actually believes that he needs let alone deserves paternity leave needs taking out and beating. Oh and so we a clear, if you call yourself a house-husband, all you’re really saying is that your wife is cleverer than you.

Yet such is the arrogance of the hetrogays that they do not see this. Instead, backed up by the women and the gay movement, they perceive themselves to be better than we mere men. To them, we are nothing less than inferior because we have not adopted ‘their’ ways.

What a croc of shit.

The problem, as I see it, is that there are just too few role models for the average man these days. Aside from the aforementioned Mr Clarkson, I can count on one hand the number of men who work in either the media or music I would fancy a night out with and even football, for so long a sport which provided society with a steady stream of hard drinking, womanising  gentlemen, now seems to be little more than a conveyer belt of bland, stupid or moronic.

But this demasculinisation of men cannot continue and therefore it’s left to the rest of us to set an example and call a halt to this. We have to start encouraging our fellow males to man-up and be what they are supposed to be; men.

I’m not suggesting for one second that we need a return to pre-suffragette (or even 1950’s)dinner, green street, top dog, sex, vibrator, orgasm, anal, brimson, football, soccer values and I’m certainly not advocating any kind of sexism. But what I would like to see is a degree of fairness and equally, some kind of recognition that it is actually ok to be a heterosexual bloke. Because actually, it really is.

So come on men…. let’s have you. Let battle commence.

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

For more insight into the mystery of the female psyche, please read my novel Billy’s Log. It’s full of them!

 

*This blog was originally posted in 2010 but amongst other projects, I’m currently working on the sequel to Billy’s Log and so it came back to mind. Sadly, it’s as current now as it’s ever been which is a bit sad really.

 

writing, writer, screenwriting, sex, sexism, men, women, love, romance, football

 

men, women, author, screenwriting, top dog, green street, martin kemp, battle of the sexes, sexism, racism, football, lads, soccer, guys

 

 

A far from ordinary life!

Not so long ago, someone contacted me and suggested that I should consider writing my autobiography.

Primarily because I doubt anyone would actually be interested in what passes for my life let alone the fact that hopefully, I’m only half way through my time amongst you mere mortals, I initially dismissed this idea. However, it did get me thinking about some of the things that have happened to me over the years because it’s fair to say that I am one of those people that ‘things’ seem to happen to.

Of course ‘things’ covers a multitude of sins and whilst it is fair to say that many of my experiences over the years are by my own design (and for that read ‘fault’), others seem to be guided by exterior forces. Indeed, I’ve long believed myself to be little more than a Subbutteo man being flicked around by some other entity for their own amusement.

Now whilst this has made my life thus far extremely interesting, there is an inherent problem attached to being someone who experiences ‘things’ and that is that when I look back on them, I do occasionally struggle to believe that some of them actually happened at all. And if I struggle, how on earth could I relate the tale to anyone else and expect them to believe it?

What makes it worse is that often, these ‘things’ involve detailed and quite lengthy explanations. Many of which are themselves of such a bizarre nature that they themselves, fall into the ‘are you sure?’ category.

For example, I know exactly why and how a very famous gravestone was liberated from it’s ‘home’ and ended up crossing the channel but the whole tale is so outlandish (not to mention hilarious) that if I were to relate it in a bar full of lads, I’d be marked down as a simple bullshitter.

Others however, are similarly bizarre yet more easily explainable but the sheer quantity and variety are certainly beyond the scale any normal person would expect to endure in a normal lifetime and would, if committed to print, indicate that I am some kind of Forrest Gump figure and I’m not sure I fancy that tag!

So for now at least, the idea of an autobiography will remain firmly on the back burner. However, in the interests of fair play, what follows are a selection of facts about my life all of which have tales attached to them and which if nothing else, might go some way toward explaining why I have ended up as I have!

  • I’ve only ever been arrested once and that was for theft of my own property from my own motor vehicle (!). I have however, been arrested twice on ‘The Bill’
  •  I was almost certainly the first person in the west to know about the Chernobyl disaster (it’s an RAF thing)
  • I once ended up in court as a defence witness in a case against someone who was accused of assaulting me (think about it for a second)
  • I’ve seen not one, but three planes crash.
  • I have stood inside the remains of a building which is possibly the most evil place on earth.
  • I was booked on the ‘Spirit of Free Enterprise when it sank outside Zeebrugge but cancelled the trip at the last minute.
  • I’ve had numerous experiences of the ghostly kind over the years!
  • I once had a German policeman point a gun at my forehead and switch the safety catch to ‘off’
  • I’ve had two mates die in front of me. Both as a result of motorbikes.
  • I’m afraid of heights. And by afraid, I mean terrified.
  • I once stole a parrot.
  • I inserted 14 things into Green Street which are either ‘in-jokes’ or refer to something very personal and they all made it onto the screen. Some will forever remain a secret. I also put some into Top Dog and We Still Kill The Old Way.
  • I used to sell condoms for a living.
  • I was once trapped in my car for 24 hours during a snow storm.
  • I’ve been a guest at Buckingham Palace three times.
  • I’ve flown a Harrier jump jet. A real one, not a simulator!
  • I have never taken, sniffed or smoked any kind of illegal substance!
  • I appear in the James Bond movie, Goldeneye and once had a screen test as a potential presenter of ‘Top Gear’
  • I have only been a best man once and that was at a same sex wedding (and it was brilliant!)

Phew……! And that’s only a few of the ones I can tell you about!!!

*As you might have noticed, I have updated this from the original which was first published in 2010!*

Do It Yourself…. go on, you know you can.

As a writer of a certain age and someone who is well known for telling things as I see them, it should not come as an surprise to learn that I am often in trouble of some kind of another.

I have for example, been banned for life from the TV show ‘Soccer AM’ for remarks I made in my book ‘The Geezers Guide to Football’ about host Helen Chamberlain and even once had a contract for a proposed book torn up for the sole reason that my very female editor took great exception to something I had written about the impact of the menstrual cycle on we poor males.

To be honest, I am quite happy with this position. In fact, truth be told I actually revel in the infamy some of my remarks attract because having a reputation as someone who is willing to speak their mind and tackle issues others dare not has proven to be quite lucrative. Yes, I am indeed one of those loons who crop up on the news every so often talking about anything from football hooligans to my distrust of anyone involved with the Labour party.   

Yet when I’m speaking or writing, every single word I utter is considered and whilst it might occasionally attract criticism, I never say anything I do not genuinely believe and cannot or will not back up. Which is ironic given the fact that as anyone who knows me personally will confirm, when I’m not talking in the media or writing for publication, I do have a habit of unwittingly engaging mouth before brain and saying exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. This is never more true than when I am talking to women when with alarming frequency, I drop myself in the mire.

I once for example, crushed one of my best mates by informing her that whilst she looked frighteningly healthy, her face looked somewhat rounder than normal (only to be informed, somewhat tearfully, that she’d spent the previous month dieting and exercising like a fanatic) and on another occasion, mentioned to another of my closest friends that having just signed her first book deal, it might be a good idea to lay off the Cadbury’s because she was going to have to have her photo taken at some point and the camera adds ten pounds.

In both instances, like always, I started out with the best intentions but knew even as the words were coming out of my mouth that they were going to be taken in the wrong way. By then of course, it was too late and the consequences for me were severe and well deserved ranging from a lengthy stony silence to my own gut wrenching guilt. Either way, they added up to trouble.

I could of course, put up some kind of defence for my insensitivity by arguing that it is typically male and to a certain extent, it is. However, I would also argue that where women are concerned, the fact that we males tend to be insensitive, unromantic or even simply stupid is mostly the fault of the female of the species. We are relatively simple beings you see whereas the other lot are phenomenally confusing.

On an almost daily basis they do things which bemuse and bewilder us then ridicule us because we don’t understand them! Equally, they spend large portions of their lives demanding honesty from us but continually ask us questions which are specifically designed to make us lie!

I mean for goodness sake, all women must know that ‘how do I look?’ is only going to attract one answer so why do you feel the need to dump him in that minefield by asking such an obviously provocative question in the first place?

Be clear, crystal clear, other than love, the greatest emotion any male in a relationship will experience is self preservation. It’s the reason why we take our partners shopping when we almost all hate it with a passion, why we stay in when we would rather go out and why you rarely hear any man say anything along the lines of ‘why aren’t you as good looking as your friend/sister/mother?’ or ‘that dress makes you look like a seal wrapped up in gaffer tape.’

It’s also why no male with a brain in his head will ever speak those seven little words that are guaranteed to earn him a period in a Siberian wasteland; ‘I’m not doing that, that’s woman’s work’.

Which is, in many ways, something of a liberty given that there is one area of domesticity where many women remain more than happy to play the ‘I’m not doing that, it’s man’s work’ card. However, when this particular boot is on the other foot, it is applied sure on the knowledge that there will be little or no complaint because it is still both accepted and expected that as men, this is actually our domain. I speak of course, of DIY.

Quite why it has remained thus is a mystery to me. This is after all, 2010, not 1910 and the majority of women are more than capable of doing anything a male can do. For the most part DIY isn’t exactly rocket science and ‘check penis is in place’ isn’t stage one of wallpapering the living room or assembling an Ikea bookshelf.

Yet the idea of a woman doing DIY by choice as opposed to actually having to do it as a result of the lack of a capable/willing man remains not only unusual, but something of a source of humour and if nothing else, that’s incredibly patronising.

Personally, I not only relish the idea of any woman taking up the rollers and power tools, I am happy to celebrate it. Not because the ability to wield a paint brush is some kind of sexual turn-on (well, not to me it isn’t) or because the capacity to use a Black & Decker is some kind of confirmation of female empowerment. It’s simply because if my partner is capable of doing it, it means that I don’t have to. Indeed, as I have often informed my own son, in terms of opposite-sex attractiveness it is vital to remember when sizing up a prospective long-term partner that anything which potentially lightens the load on him as a male should certainly be up there with ‘own car’ and ‘decent sized breasts.’

You see, like most males, I am inherently lazy and in my spare time, I enjoy doing one of two things: enjoying myself or nothing. DIY fits into neither of those categories because it is a loathsome chore.

Don’t get me wrong, 18 years as an engineer in the RAF and a couple of decades racing cars and motorbikes have certainly equipped me with the ability to carry out pretty much anything and I’m still at my happiest rolling around under a car or tweaking an engine. But these activities fall into the ‘enjoying myself’ category whereas DIY is more often than not ‘necessary.’ And don’t give me the ‘satisfaction of a job well done’ argument. I prefer ‘thank god that’s finished.’

That isn’t to say I’m not happy to change a bulb, fit the odd plug or even help out around the house. Nor does it mean that if my beloved wanted something doing which I know would make her happy, I wouldn’t do it for her. But what irritates me is the continuing inference that as a man, DIY is my job. It isn’t, not any more. Those days are long gone in exactly the same way as washing up or ironing is solely the responsibility of the female. In these enlightened times it’s a brave man or a fool who remarks that the vacuum could do with a trip out or, perish the perish the thought, that there’s a nappy that needs changing!

So why is it still acceptable for women to use that same argument when a shelf needs putting up?

That’s right… it isn’t. It’s actually quite sexist. 🙂

A version of this blog was previously posted on www.moanaboutmen.com

The ‘art’ of writing.

Of the numerous emails that land in my inbox, a good number involve the issue of advice.

Recently, well since I’ve been blogging anyway, these mails have actually been for me suggesting various things to do to myself that are anatomically impossible which merely proves that women do indeed have a quite nasty side to them. However, prior to this, many have actually asked for my advice on writing or making that leap from the laptop to the shelves of Waterstones. 

Given that I never set out to be an author nor have I really even studied the craft -as many people have pointed out!- I have often wondered why that is. After all, I am not and probably never will be a Booker Prize winning novelist 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 is 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 where possible, stolen. Indeed, I could tell you some stories about certain………. no, 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 TV, 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. 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 I’ve been lucky enough to have some awesome ones in my time (‘The best book ever written on football hooliganism’ Daily Mail) but 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, but 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.

Most will also have regular guest speakers and a good one will be both inspirational and a source of very useful information about the writing and the publishing process. 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.

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?