Something Fishy….

As I have previously stated, I am not an animal lover. Aside from being a source of food, they are as far as I’m concerned, fairly pointless.

Truth to tell I actually find those who do like animals slightly odd. Let’s face it, if you have to rely on a dog (or worse, a cat) for affection then life must be very drab indeed. I mention this now because the other day, I heard a discussion on the radio which referred to the price of tinned tuna and the fact that the price has recently gone through the roof. One of the reasons cited was that fishing for said fish had become more problematic for the poor fisherman because of the need to protect dolphins.

Now as a lover of the odd tuna sandwich (with salad cream and cucumber obviously), I immediately questioned the reasoning behind this but before I could say anything, the interviewer responded with the point that dolphins have to be protected because they are very intelligent and have an IQ in of over a hundred. I’m sorry, but unless turning up and making a few clicking noises, giving the examiner a smile and a nudge with your nose is on the test system at MENSA, this is clearly bollocks.

If dolphins are that clever you would have thought that by now they’d have realised that if they see a couple of boats moving along on the surface being followed by a wall of fish swimming in a ball, it’s a good indication that there’s a net involved so it might be a good idea to give it a swerve. The fact that they haven’t speaks volumes to me.

Inevitably, this led onto another question and that’s that since dolphins look quite meaty and there are obviously loads of them around, why don’t we eat them?

Leaving aside the vegetarian issue (and trust me, you really don’t want to get me started on veggies) the answer of course, has nothing to do with their so-called intelligence and everything to do with the fact that they are cute. Which is exactly the same reason people use for not eating dogs, cats or even monkeys (although if you type ‘monkey rapes frog’ into Google you will soon question the validity of that statement!)

Now I might not have the IQ of a dolphin (sic) but there is certainly a lesson to be learnt here. Not by me, but by the pig, cow, sheep and poultry community. Because if humans only eat cute animals then it might be a good idea to get working on a bit of evolution in the beauty department. In the short term a trip down to MENSA might not be such a bad idea either.

Just make sure you practice those clicking noises first! After all, if it works for flipper, it’s certain to work for you guys.

Grovelling time!

Apologies for the lack of any blogs recently but I’ve been engrossed in writing a new screenplay as well as re-writing an existing one ahead of production.

When you are as lazy as I am and have zero time management skills, deadlines are terrible things. However, even I realise that it is far better to have them than not. Indeed, if the latter were the case I would never get anything done!

Normal service will be resumed shortly. Unless something else crops up!

The 80’s Bloke.

I need to make something clear from the outset; I am a male….a proper heterosexual one. I love football, anything with an engine, eat meat, drink alcohol (albeit occasionally) and in the past few weeks have been called amongst other things, a flirt and a letch. Both of which I took as compliments.

But if you were expecting some kind of spirited defence of the male species or even some kind of anti-female rant, you are going to be disappointed. You see in spite of the fact that I am a ‘bloke’ in pretty much every sense of the word, I would go so far as to say that I far prefer the company of women to men.

Most of my best friends are women, the bulk of my working colleagues including my editor and my agent are women and not so long ago I was best man at the same-sex wedding of two of my bestest (female) chums which was, I have to say, a truly delightful experience. Rammed as it was, with women (albeit some of whom had little or no interest in men but each to their own).

The reason for this is that in my experience, women are a lot of fun whilst men are fairly hopeless, especially where women are concerned. And yes, I do lump myself in there with, as most of my female friends and colleagues will agree, good reason. For like most men, I have no idea how women think or work, am prone to saying the wrong thing at the very worst time and cannot for the life of me understand the fascination with either shoes, handbags or celebrity magazines.

Furthermore, as I have previously mentioned I have no concept of how much fun shopping is (for the most part, it really isn’t), have no desire to even think about why a bed needs to be covered with cushions simply because they look nice nor can I even comprehend why anyone would need to curl their eyelashes.

Oh, and since I have no uterus, I cannot possibly have any idea what it’s like to have PMT and have no real explanation as to why something so obvious is so frequently thrown at me as if it were an accusation. Don’t even get me started on the menopause or the pain of childbirth.

I could go on…. and on…. and on.

What I hear you asking, has any of this to do with the 80’s? Well on the face of it, nothing. But in truth, it has everything.

You see, to state the obvious, men and women are different. Very different. At the beginning of the 80’s, everyone knew that, accepted it and even embraced it. It was a time when real men (or ‘blokes’ as they shall henceforth be known) did manual work, smoked, drank beer and looked after their families whilst the vast majority of women once married, kept home and acted as mothers.

Yet by the end of the decade fuelled by Thatcherism, consumerism, liberalism and feminism, we were seeing the first seeds of the god-awful ‘Ladette’ culture and were just a couple of years away from the first mention of the most loathsome cult ever to infest the male race, ‘the Metrosexual.’ The final nail in the concept of masculinity which by the turn of the decade had all but ebbed away along with good manners, common courtesy, respect and most importantly of all, romance. All to be replaced with… well, nothing.

And as the 80’s ended, women everywhere suddenly found themselves wondering where all the real men had gone whilst the real men were living in fear of having their seemingly old-fashioned advances rejected. Rejection being of course, the greatest contraceptive known to man.

So it has continued, with the traditional roles of male/hunter, woman/nurturer now almost an alien concept and as a bloke, I find that very sad. I mean, what’s wrong with holding the door open for a woman or perish the thought, offering one your seat on the tube? It’s what a gentleman does yet these days, you do it at your peril. Equality, whilst an admirable idea, has a lot to answer for because in many respects, no one wins.

Thankfully, all is not lost. For there is a saviour at hand. A real man in the old fashioned sense who blokes look up to and women have come to regard as something of a sex symbol.

No not me…. Step forward the legend that is DCI Gene Hunt. The politically incorrect, foul mouthed and most definitely sexist copper who stars in the BBC TV series ‘Ashes to Ashes.’ He is as good a representation of the early 80’s male as you will possibly ever see on screen but more importantly, he is often mentioned as the ‘bit of rough women would like a tumble with.’

If true, this is a welcome sign. For whilst much of modern day society has its merits, the relationship between men and women remains slightly blurred. Middle aged men especially are still struggling to come terms with things and the fact that a fictional television character has come to be regarded with such affection by both sexes proves that deep down, those old school values have not been totally extinguished. Or to put it another way, sometimes the good old days were actually good.

The question of course, is does that kind of Alpha male have a place in modern day society. Well speaking as one myself, I would obviously hope so but I know plenty of females who would certainly go for a bit of old fashioned looking after.

But then again, back then we never thought things that deeply did we. And maybe, like proper sized Curly Wurly’s, Tiswas and Brit–Funk, that was something else that was better back in the 80’s.

Happy days indeed.

Things That Baffle Me (Shopping)

I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to understand what makes women tick and as I have stated on numerous occasions (and as anyone who knows me will happily testify) I have generally failed miserably. So much so in fact, that in recent years I have all but given up and instead, take whatever flak my ignorance earns with all the humble pie I can consume.

For the most part, adopting this life of bewilderment has turned out to be a good thing. Not least because the older and more childlike I become, the more the mystery seems to deepen and the more interesting women become. However, there are still aspects of female life that bemuse me to such an extent that I have to give them serious thought. One such thing is shopping. And I don’t mean a trip to Tesco’s or even Ikea, I mean a full-on full day clothes shop with the coven.

For years I have struggled to understand why women derive such pleasure from what to most blokes, myself included, is a loathsome activity. I’ve never been able to grasp the idea of spending hours wandering clothes shops or worked out what it is about shoes and handbags that females find so orgasmically fascinating. However, after a recent and extremely illuminating discussion with a female who best remain nameless in the way that ‘whistleblowers’ do, I now think I get it.

You see I suspect we males have been missing a fundamental truth. It’s not that we can’t understand womens fascination with shopping, it’s that they don’t want us to understand it! And the reasons for that are best summed up in three particular words.

The first is occasion. For females of all ages, a trip to the shopping mall with the girls is an event. One where giggling ensues, gossip undertaken and worlds put to rights. More importantly, it is one where men are unwelcome for the sole reason that they inhibit their discussions, behaviour or perish the thought, spending!

The second is escapism. Shopping allows women to step outside the humdrum world of everyday life and become whoever or whatever they want to be for a while. It is, in essence, the same as dressing up when they were a little girl and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The third word is perhaps the most controversial and perhaps most worrying because it is deception. And I’m not talking the kind of self deception women practice when they convince themselves that they really do need, will wear and can afford those Christian Louboutin shoes when they hand over their Mastercard, I’m talking about the subversive thrill derived from deceiving the old man. Be it by hiding receipts, cutting off labels or even throwing in words such as ‘bargain’ ‘cheap’ or ‘sale.’ 

Thinking about all this has been an interesting experience. Not least because it’s made me understand that shopping is for women what sporting events are for men. And now that I’ve finally woken up to the fact that the old adage ‘what happens on X stays on X’ (insert football, stock car track, stag night, rugby tour as required) which we’ve employed for decades is also being employed by the fairer sex, I am able to look things in an entirely different light. Not least because when I step out of the door and head out with the lads, I won’t ever have to feel guilty again.

A version of this blog previously appeared on www.moanaboutmen.com

Things That Annoy Me (Part Six – Selfish bastards)

A couple of weeks ago, whilst returning home from an unexpectedly successful meeting in London, something happened that scared the shit out of me.

However, before I relate this particular tale, I need to go back 24 hours prior to that because what I am about to tell you is important in relation to the story that will unfold. You see the previous day I had been haunted by a Crow. And I say haunted advisably because as those who follow my ramblings on twitter will know (well, I had to tell someone!) this bloody thing seemed to be everywhere I went. Not only did it keep staring at me through the window, but it was even sitting on my car when I went out to run an errand!

Now being pursued by a bird which, if you believe in such things, is supposedly a foreteller of doom or even death does not do much good for the nerves. However, I somehow managed to survive the day intact (as did everyone I know I think) and even more amazingly, the night.

So, delighted to be still in this mortal realm and with a meeting to get to, I headed off to London and another encounter with the Underground which, for a variety of reasons, I despise.

OK, with the scene now set I can jump forward to my journey homeward.

There I am, heading for Euston and escape from the big city with the euphoria of what I had just been told still fresh in my mind when I glanced across the carriage and saw something that made me freeze in my tracks.

Sitting there, dressed head to foot in his traditional clothing was an Asian chap. Not an altogether unusual sight in London I’m sure you will agree but what made him stand out was the fact that he was rocking backwards and forward in his seat, eyes closed and twirling some beads between his fingers.

Having served in the Military for as long as I did and having seen at first hand the evidence of what human beings are capable of, to say I became somewhat worried is an understatement. More so because of my recent encounter with the aforementioned Crow.

Thankfully, I was getting off at the next stop and the second the doors opened I was out of there. A glance back revealing him still rocking backwards and forwards with his eyes clamped firmly shut.

Now I’m sure he had his reasons for doing what he was doing and it was obviously totally innocent but even as the train vanished into the tunnel, I actually began to become annoyed. Not just at myself for being more concerned about getting off the train than about actually saying or doing anything, but at the offending individual.

After all, if he wasn’t in London at the time of the 7/7 bombings he would certainly have heard about them and would, like every other traveller on the tube, be wary of anything suspicious. So why did he feel that he had the right to act in what to me at least, was a suspicious if not actually frightening manner? The answer of course, is that it almost certainly didn’t even occur to him and that, to me, is the definition of selfishness.

Indeed, trains and selfishness seem to go hand in hand these days. Quite when it became acceptable for males to remain seating whilst elderly, middle aged, pregnant or even disabled women are forced to stand is beyond me but it really is the height of bad manners. And why do increasing numbers of people seem to feel obliged to wear rucksacks on packed trains? Do they not realise what a bloody pain they are? Of course they do, because they are exactly the kind of people who moan about people wearing rucksacks on trains!

But most selfish of all are those people who talk on mobile phones. I very, very rarely have conversations on phones in public because to me, they are private and I don’t want anyone knowing my business almost as much as I doubt they want to hear it. So quite why others why people feel the need to regale the world with the most inane conversation escapes me. I don’t need to know you are on the train home, I don’t give a toss what you are having for dinner and I certainly don’t care that such and such is screwing such and such.

To make matters worse, I’m sure that these ignorant gits think that when they are talking on mobiles, no one else can hear them. I once listened to a young woman talking loudly to her bank in the seat opposite to me and by the time she had finished, I had written down her account number, sort code, name, date of birth and home address. When I handed them to her and told her that she really needed to be a bit more discreet, she looked at me like I was some kind of sex fiend.  

The sad thing is, selfishness is merely a reflection of what this once great nation has become. It is bereft of both good manners, courtesy, politeness and most importantly of all, shame. And whilst it is easy to blame Lady Thatcher and the ‘me, me, me’ policies of the 1980’s or even the quest for sexual equality (a just battle fought appallingly) the truth is that it’s because too many people do not understand the notion that respect is only given if it is earned.

And they don’t understand it simply because they were never taught it. Which to me is one of the great failings of both our schools and parents across this increasingly desolate country of ours.

Things That Annoy Me (Part Four – Midgets)

Like many people, I have a number of phobia’s. I don’t like mice (too quick!), am terrified of heights (albeit on account of once being on a 25 foot platform which fell over) and I’m not overly keen on snakes. However, I also have another phobia. I suffer from achondroplasiaphobia.   

Quite why I have ended up with this affliction escapes me although I suspect, like many sufferers, it can be traced back to watching ‘The Wizard of Oz’ when I was a kid. You see achondroplasiaphobia is a fear of midgets and the truth is, they scare the shit out of me.

I dodge them in the street, can’t watch them on TV and the idea of going to panto (where there always seems to be at least one if not more!) has never entered my head. I suspect it also explains my hatred of Christmas. Damn elves.

It is of course, grossly unfair. Not on me, but on them. I’ve met a few wee folk over the years and they have generally been exceptionally nice and far more normal than many…. well, ‘normal’ folk. But there is something about them I find extremely unnerving.

It could be of course, that they always seem to be smiling. Almost as if they know something I don’t. Indeed, I do have a theory that they are actually all aliens from the planet Munchkin and will one day rise up (pun intended) and take over. The reason they are short merely a consequence of someone on some far distant planet reading the design brief wrong. Extreme I know, but there has to be something that explains it!

Or it could be the fact that their legs are so short and seem to move so quickly. Ironic given that I am also somewhat challenged in the length of leg department!

Whatever it is, it is something I have to get over if only out of respect and courtesy for those who are vertically challenged. However, I am struggling to work out how best to effect a cure. I did try calling ‘Midgets Anonymous’ but no one was able to reach the phone.

Given that those with a fear of spiders are advised to simply hold one for a while and they will soon realise that they aren’t actually scary at all, I did consider grabbing a passing dwarf and rubbing myself all over with him or her for a while. But I quickly realised that doing so might cause problems of a different kind and whilst I have never minded my name appearing in print, I don’t really want it mentioned in any ‘midget molester’ context.

I also thought about spending a weekend watching the aforementioned Wizard of Oz back to back with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory until such time as I can do it without squirming in my seat but the idea of that simply fills me with horror. Especially since I’m on a diet and are off the sweets.

So quite what is to be done escapes me for a while. But rest assured I am on the case. Although I could simply wait until they have taken over the planet. Because by then, we’ll all be afraid. And maybe with good reason!!!

But at least then I’ll be able to say I told you so!

Things That Annoy Me (Part Three – Me!)

From ‘The Yob Laureate’ to names that are (or should be) unprintable on any kind of media, it’s fair to say that over the years, I have been tagged with all sorts of labels.

This is however, understandable. After all, I’m known for writing about issues that are often considered unpalatable and in a style which could best be described as abrasive. As a consequence, it hardly comes as a surprise when occasionally, someone takes exception.

That’s fine by me and to be honest, is one of the reasons why I do it. After all, the primary aim of commenting on anything has to be to provoke some kind of response or better still, kick start a debate. To that end, I don’t really care what anyone thinks about me, just as long as they think something! The old adage ‘it’s better to be talked about than not’ is most certainly true.

There is of course one exception to that because there is one person whose opinion I value above all others and that’s my own. For in recent years, I have come to the conclusion that I am quite annoying. Not least because prior to any major football tournament (or post any outbreak of football related violence) I’d pop up on the news and say, in essence ‘I told you so.’

The fact that I am still asked to do this on a regular basis proves numerous things not least the simple truths that I am usually proved right, no one in authority has ever really taken any notice of what I’ve had to say and that many journalists are basically lazy bastards. However, a couple of years ago, I realised that I was as bored of saying this as the general public almost certainly were of hearing me say it and so I took the decision to simply call a halt to doing anything media related unless it was of particular interest to me.

Taking this decision proved to be a very positive step for all kinds of reasons. The main one being that I have finally begun shedding the ‘you’re that hooligan bloke’ tag which had been dogging me for years and as a result, these days I get involved with a more varied range of work.

The problem with this is that all of a sudden, I have found myself in competition with other writers and that is extremely unnerving. After all, to compete on an equal level means that I have to assume a degree of talent and since I’ve spent most of the last 15 or so years wondering how I am getting away with it, that isn’t easy.

As a result, I tend to prevaricate, often for days on end, which is extremely annoying. Indeed, with a script to finish, I’m starting to wonder why I am writing this instead of doing that.

Which does kind of prove my point!

*Note: I am well aware that I have other habits which some people find extremely annoying. These include biting my nails, falling asleep in front of the TV, being occasionally grumpy, being insensitive, not listening properly, having a terrible memory and not being very romantic. However, as far as I am concerned, those are character traits and what make me, me. J .

Things That Annoy Me (Part Two – Women)

Since my last blog, I’ve received numerous mails supporting my thoughts on those morons who hog the middle lane on motorways as well as suggestions for future topics to write about.

Not surprisingly, the majority of those suggestions relate to the thorny subject of women which is quite handy really as that was always going to be the theme of my second rant because let’s face it, women are a bloody nightmare for the average male.

The only trouble I’ve had is where to start. Since writing my novel ‘Billy’s Log’ I’ve been in the habit of analysing pretty much everything women do which has, in the main, involved trying to work out why we males put up with them. And in most cases, I have come to the conclusion that it’s because we’ve been conditioned to believe that we are either stupid or inferior which is ironic given that they spent so long trying to gain equality with us (and that’s a whole blog right there!).

The tragedy is that it has worked. Women do things on a regular basis which when you look at them objectively, make absolutely no sense. Yet when a male dares question the logic of any of these acts, we are the ones looked at as if we are raving mad.

Cushions are a prime example. Women seem to be obsessed with them these days with six seeming to be the bare minimum required on a bed but that the hell is that all about? The only point they seem to have from a male perspective is that they make making the bed an even more tedious task, getting into bed an event and a trip to the loo in the middle of the night a positive danger!

The argument that they ‘look nice’ would stand up were it not for the fact that generally speaking, bedrooms are places where only one or two people venture which, unless the housewives of Britain are conducting guided tours around their homes when their men are at work, merely reinforces the simple truism that women and logic are two words that rarely sit comfortably together. After all, why moan that you have too much to do around the home when you are seemingly happy to make additional work for yourself for no apparent reason?

And so, as someone who is past caring, I’ve decided that rather than write one single blog about the things 50% of the population do to annoy the other 50% and possibly miss out something important in the process, I will post up occasional thoughts relating to the madness of the female species as and when they occur to me. That is after all, the logical thing to do.

So with that in mind, here’s the first: Why do we put up with women moaning about us leaving the toilet seat up when it’s equally as reasonable for us to moan about them leaving it down?

Things That Annoy Me (Part One – Middle Lane Hogs).

driving, motorways, middle lane, road hogs, £100 fine, police, watford, brimson, top dog, the crew, farting, sex, women, guys, cars, motorcyclesFor some reason, I am often accused of being miserable.

Quite why is something of a mystery to me as in spite of the fact that life continually builds brick walls in my path, I consider myself to be generally speaking, a cheerful and optimistic soul.

I suspect this misconception has much to do with the fact that I have a face which was specially constructed to look grumpy. I’ve certainly never gone for all this ‘you use more muscles to scowl than smile’ rubbish as my scowl has always come perfectly naturally and without any effort whatsoever!

That said, there are numerous things which irritate me on an almost daily basis and whilst I generally try to let them wash over me, they do occasionally drive me to distraction. Therefore, it strikes me that now that this blog is up, running and increasingly popular apparently, it might provide a useful vehicle for me to let off steam with a selection of rants. A kind of online counselling if you will.

The hard bit is deciding what to rant about. For the more I have pondered today, the more I’ve realised how irritating life can be. Well, I say life but what I actually mean is people.

Of course, it surely goes without saying that if everyone were like me, life would be a lot easier but they’re not. Instead, generally speaking, they are a pain in the arse. Primarily because of the things they do. And by that I mean things they do that piss me off.

Now it’s fair to say that smugness, ignorance, disrespect and plain rudeness are personal traits I have no time for which is why I tend to avoid trains whenever possible. For it is here that I usually find the very worst excesses of bad manners. Quite why people feel the need to regale an entire train carriage with inane details of their sad lives by talking loudly on their phones escapes me and as for ‘males’ who remain happily seated whilst leaving a female to stand…. Grrr!

However, trains are not the worst places. Roads are far worse and it is on motorways particularly that people do things that sometimes have me boiling with rage. Chief among these, and quite possibly the most irritating thing I ever encounter, are those morons who drive along in the middle lane oblivious to the chaos they cause. I hate them, all of them.

It genuinely escapes me how people can be so stupid. Do they notdriving, motorways, middle lane, road hogs, £100 fine, police, watford, brimson, top dog, the crew, farting, sex, women, guys, cars, motorcycles understand that by driving along in the middle of a three lane motorway, they are effectively blocking off an entire lane to other motorists? How many times have you come up behind slow moving traffic only to find that at the head, driving along in the centre of three lanes, is some idiot in a Nissan Micra or a people carrier? And why do they do it anyway? Are they incapable of driving in the left hand lane? What is the thought process of driving along an empty motorway and deciding to drive in the middle instead of on the left?

The sad thing is, the people with the power to deal with this (the government!) seem loathe to do anything about it preferring instead to focus their attentions on what to my mind, are less pressing matters such as the economy and world peace. Even the police seem incapable of acting in spite of the fact that these people are driving without due care and attention (and let’s face it, by causing an obstruction that’s exactly what they are doing!) and quite why those signs which seem to spend most of the time warning me of impending doom ahead are not being used to tell these dickheads to drive with a little bit of consideration for everyone else escapes me.

What really annoys me is that I am reduced to flashing them to get out of the way when in reality, what I really want to do is utilise the skills honed in my stock car racing days and simply spin them off into oblivion. Yet if I were to do that, I’d be the one hauled in front of the courts! How does that work?!?!

And of course if they do deign to get out of your way (only to move back the second you have passed) they have the temerity to look at me as if I’m either mad or some kind of irritation. Which merely makes me even more rabid.

If there is an answer, I don’t know what it is. But I tell you one thing, if someone ever invents a way of letting me inform a guilty party exactly what I think of them as I drive past, I will be the first in the queue.

Rant over… that’s better. For now anyway.

Full details of all of my books and movie projects can be found at dougiebrimson.com

Follow me on twitter @dougiebrimson

Multi-Tasking!

 Following a recent discussion about multi-tasking and the apparent inability of the average male to carry out more than one function at a time, I had intended to write a blog on this very subject today.

 However, with a screenplay to finish, a new book to start, three TV proposals to work on and a million other things to do and think about today, I simply haven’t got the time.

 But then again, maybe I’m not the ‘average’ male!

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