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?

Men… stand your ground!

As a writer, I am often called upon to tackle subjects which could be deemed at best controversial and at worst, downright provocative. Similarly, as an observer of the male of the species, I am frequently asked to comment on or even explain things which, whilst obvious to me, might be considered slightly bizarre or even irrational to those on the outside.

It is for the most part, a fabulous and privileged position to be in. After all, my opinions are my opinions and to have them considered worthy enough to have placed in the public domain is a huge honour. More so if they kick start debate or even argument which is, in the main, why I do it anyway. After all, as a confirmed ‘grump’ what greater pleasure can there be than to get other people fired up!

In recent weeks, many of these requests have related to football and in particular, the World Cup. In the main, they have revolved around the now wholly out of date idea that England fans travel to tournaments with the express intention of rebuilding the empire by causing widespread destruction but occasionally, they touch on something more sensible.

Now as anyone who has ever read my book, The Geezers Guide to Football will know, when it comes to the great game, I am old school. Indeed, my opinions are so firmly entrenched that when the day comes for me to depart this turbulent world and head for whatever fate Mr G Reaper has in store for me, the coroner unfortunate enough to carry out my autopsy will find them engraved in the numerous layers of skin currently struggling to keep the blubber together. They are however, my opinions and as such, remain central to my relationship with a sport I have spent most of my life adoring and despising in equal measures.

I mention this not as any defence, but as a warning for what is about to unfold. You see I was recently asked to write something on the issue of women and football and I am of the firm belief that the two don’t mix. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that never the twain should meet.

For me, going to watch football is about escapism. It’s where we men go to forget the day to day drudgery of life, put aside any worries we might have and simply be ourselves for a few hours. More importantly, it’s where we go to spend time in the company of other blokes in an environment which is specifically designed to allow us to let off steam and give free reign to our emotions. Many a man has shed many a tear on the terraces of England and I’m certainly not ashamed to say that I am one of them.

It’s also fair to say that football is where some men occasionally do things they not only shouldn’t but certainly wouldn’t anywhere else! Not that that applies to me of course!

Now whilst this could be construed as childish behaviour, it does have its benefits. After all, women are always telling us to get in touch with our emotions and whilst football might not be the ideal vehicle for that, it has to be better than nothing doesn’t it? Surely it’s better to let rip outside the home rather than in it and whilst it’s true that football has the power to depress (ok, manically depress), it also has the power to elate. All of which can only make us nicer to be around. Indeed, I tend to be more concerned that men who don’t like football have far more issues than those of us who do!

All of which is fine until such time as a women enters the equation. For when a female enters the dynamics of the terrace, everything changes. I for one will never swear in front of a woman if I can avoid it and I certainly wouldn’t utter some of the more colourful words I tend to use at games.

Furthermore, for whatever reason I tend to moderate my behaviour if a female is near by because like most men who attend games, I know I act like an idiot and whilst it’s accepted behaviour amongst my peers, I don’t particularly want or need a woman to see it. In short, the presence of a woman dilutes the match day experience for me and kind of negates the whole point of going. And don’t think for one second I am alone in that thinking. Ask your other half if he would prefer to go to football with you or with his mates. On second thoughts, don’t. We’ll discuss that later.

To be honest, I have never really understood why women have latched onto football anyway. Fair enough, most football grounds are enveloped in a testosterone frenzy every Saturday which must have an attraction of sorts whilst I also have an inkling that since most female football fans are more HAG than WAG, it’s crystal clear that the terraces are almost certainly the only place where they will ever find themselves surrounded by hundreds of men! Let alone find themselves in close proximity to millionaire footballers!

There is even a school of thought that the main reason why this has happened is that it’s a spoiling tactic. The thinking being that in the same way that marriage is clearly an institution invented by women FOR women, football is a game played by men for the enjoyment of other men. And since all men know how much women like to stop us enjoying ourselves, what better way of doing that than by invading our sanctuary.

To make matters even worse, we now have legions of women claiming to ‘love’ football. Er… no!

Women can’t love football, at least not in the same way as a man can. The reason being that since she can never have played the game (and no matter whatever anyone says, women can’t play football) she can never understand the anger and frustration that comes from knowing that if we’d have practised more, we could have been out there playing instead of on the terraces watching. So with that element missing, when a woman says she loves football, what she really means is that she likes it. She can’t really do anything more.

Equally, the fact that they have never played the game removes any degree of authority from anything they might have to say on the actual game. How can anyone possibly comment on a player’s inability to deliver a 30 yard pass when it’s unlikely they could ever even kick a ball 30 feet with any accuracy?

But just as importantly, one of the worst things about those women who do see fit to invade the football stadium is that far too many of them seem to feel the need to behave like we do. Given that half the time we’re doing the very things that seem to provide so much irritation to the female of the species, I don’t understand why they do that and I certainly don’t want to watch them doing it.

It is for these very reasons that I actually prefer women NOT to like football. Not simply because there is no real chance of them ever wanting to come to a game with me, but because I don’t feel the need to have to discuss it with them.

That said, I do think that all women should have some inkling of how important football can be to their man. They can’t go on about us being devoid of emotion and then take the mickey or moan at us when we are upset after a bad result. Furthermore, they might understand why we get so upset when they utter that most horrific of sentences ‘it’s only a game!’ I mean, no man in his right mind would ever say that the £750 Mulberry handbag his wife or partner was swooning over was ‘only a bag’ would they! 

This is where television plays such a vital role. I might not be keen on women on the terraces but I have no problem with them watching games in the comfort of their own home. Not because I think they provide a handy waitress service to their chap (perish the thought!) but because given that the duty of television is to inform, if the average female can learn just how dire the England side have performed in South Africa, they can also appreciate just why we have been so depressed in recent weeks.

However, for us men the fact that women are watching the game on television does have inherent dangers. Not only do you run the very grave risk of your partner actually wanting to indulge in football related conversation but more horrifically, they might actually ask to accompany you to a game.

In my experience, the former is most easily dealt with by indulging in patronising responses or simply agreeing with everything they say but the latter has the potential to place the average male firmly in ‘relationship minefield’ territory. This is one area where compromise is not just a dirty word, it’s pure filth and so my advice would always be to pre-empt the situation by pointing your woman in the direction of the sign in the corner shop which reads ‘do not ask as refusal often offends’. Because if you’re a real man who has any respect for his mates, that’s exactly what you will do.

Of course, if you’re not a real man and do not have the power to stand up to your partner, then you there are three ways to step off what will undoubtedly be a very rocky and downward sloping road. One which will inevitably lead to you both wearing matching coats, bobble hats and carrying flasks of tea to drink at half time.

Step 1. When that fateful day comes, never, ever take her to your usual haunt. Not only will her presence detract from the experience (see above) but you must avoid her meeting your mates at all cost. If she meets them, not only will you (quite rightly) incur their wrath for bringing a female into the matchday environment and inevitably spoiling their day (again, see above) but if she’s not much of a looker, you will open yourself up to all kinds of piss taking. The kind of piss taking that goes on forever. Alternatively, if she is a looker…. well you don’t need me to tell you. Furthermore, meeting your mates means that she will suddenly be able to put names to faces and that’s never good.

Since the aim should obviously to ensure that this will be strictly a one-off, it is vital that you take the time to pick a game which you know will feature the poorest quality football imaginable (a look at the Watford FC fixture list is a good starting point) at a time when the weather will be at its worst. An evening game in November is perfect as it’s the stuff of nightmares for any first timer let alone a female and will almost certainly guarantee a swift exit. I know this tactic works because I used a form of it on my own daughters.

Step 2. If she does pose the dreaded ‘can I come?’ question, then the next time she is asked to attend any kind of ‘girlie’ event you must insist on going and do not take no for an answer.

Often, this in itself will be enough to have her backing off (which makes you wonder what they get up to at these things but that’s another blog) but if she doesn’t, then you must stick to your guns. If you’re really lucky, you’ll be Anne Summer’s party or hen night bound. If you’re unlucky, it’ll be Tupperware, candles or jewellery. But whatever it is, you MUST attend and you must make a knob of yourself. It is imperative that you spoil her night if only for revenge purposes.

Step 3. If either steps 1 or step 2 fail and she not only attends a game but asks to go again, then you simply have no choice but to stop going altogether. Not for your own sake, but for the sake of your mates. It’s all about taking one for the team and besides, if you start turning up with a woman week in and week out, chances are they’ll soon disown you anyway.

The one and only silver lining to this particular cloud is that should you find yourself in this most horrific of situations and simply cannot bare the thought of not going to watch football in the flesh, it provides one of the few occasions where a male can legitimately begin following (but not supporting) another club. Obviously it has to be one of a lower standard than the one where your heart will always lie as moving up the football scale not only lays you wide open to accusations of being a ‘glory hunter’ or even worse a ‘new breed’ but it actually goes against the basic unwritten rules of fandom.

So, if you can’t stomach the idea of watching non-league football week in and week out in the company of your significant other, best you don’t let it get that far.

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

The Unsung Joy

Recently, whilst undergoing the trauma of a Virgin trains journey from Watford to Manchester, I met a woman. She was middle aged, expensively dressed, stunningly pretty in a Helen Mirren type of way and remarkably intelligent. All attributes which marked her out as being on a slightly different social and intellectual plane than myself. Indeed, it’s fair to say that in any other circumstance, we would never have met in a million years. However, on this occasion, fate threw us together and as a result, we spent two glorious hours sharing one of those experiences which come along all to rarely but which, when they do, leave you glowing with fulfilment and achievement. Sad to say, we never even exchanged names and when she left the train at Stafford, we both knew that we would never meet again. But we’re adults and we knew what we were doing. So why not?

What did we do? Well, we moaned. Non-stop. Not just about Richard Branson and his trains, but about the Labour Party, today’s youth, the weather and even the state of English football (not a subject I would never normally enter into with a female but hey…). It was fantastic.

Reflecting on our conversation as I went on to eventually complete my journey some hour and a half late, I realized how much I love a good moan. It isn’t just good for the soul it’s good fun. Which is a good job really, because I have a lot to moan about. After all, not only have I been cursed with decidedly average looks, but I’ve always been a bit on the ‘plump’ side. Add this to the fact that I began losing my hair quite early on in life and an arse the size of the Isle of Wight and you can see why I harbour a deep rooted resentment toward my parents. To make matters even worse, in my teens, I developed an affection for Watford football club. And whilst that was great at first, I have since learnt the full implications of such an obsession. Especially the financial ones! I could go on, but you get the drift.

However, since I’ve been writing, I’ve learnt that moaning has other benefits. For not only does it provide a much-needed outlet for frustration and stress, it is also a fabulous defence mechanism. Let’s face it, being a pessimist means you are rarely disappointed.

But more importantly, moaning is actually a valuable and under appreciated research tool. Listening to people moan can be an incredibly useful and informative experience because unlike any other form of communication, moaning is completely disarming. After all, we only really do it when we feel passionate about something and you can’t fake that like you can flattery or self-importance. It’s as real as it gets. And when you get that degree of feeling, that’s when you get truth and genuine opinion. Two things that are vital if you’re a writer searching for information or even some inspirational dialogue.

So please bare that in mind the next time you get on a train and the only empty seat is next to a big bald miserable looking bloke. It might be me and you could be just the person I’m looking for.

The Great Game

I am one of that lucky breed of individuals who has ended up doing a job, if you can call it that, which just happens to revolve around their all-consuming passion. As a result of this good fortune, what I do occasionally rules my life 24/7 to the point that if I’m not working by necessity, I’m doing by choice.

Thankfully, my son has also become infected with this passion and no doubt, as the years pass by, the two of us will continue to enjoy our shared obsession not just because we’re father and son, but because…well, because we’re blokes. And as we grow older, we’ll talk about the good old days and how things were much better back … er, now, and moan about how it all went wrong. Which of course, it surely will. Because the thing of which I speak is of course, the glorious, but all too often disappointing game that is football. And if you follow football, as anyone who watch the pathetic efforts of our nations supposedly finest players in South Africa will be acutely aware, the chances are that you’re going to spend a good portion of your supporting life feeling depressed.

To be honest, I guess that’s where the main attraction lies for me. I am after all, a natural pessimist and so it stands to reason that football is my ideal sport. After all, if you go to a game expecting to be disappointed, anything else is a serious bonus!

But the other benefit the great game provides is that the pre-match pub has replaced the traditional campfire as the place where stories and legends are both told and heard. And who can deny the pure unadulterated joy which comes from hearing about someone else’s misfortune or the simple thrill of trying to work out if someone is lying through their teeth or not.

The problem of course, is that every so often, you are expected to contribute. And tragically, I have one of those footballing stories that tread the fine line between bizarre and bull. A story that I still have difficulty believing even though I was the central figure. In short, I once saved a penalty taken by my own team in a game that we lost. Confused? Oh, it gets worse than that. Much worse.

You see during my time in the RAF, I was the manager of our Squadron football team. A team, who I have to admit, were rubbish. The sad thing was, I was also a member of the defence and as we were leaking goals at a frightening rate, I eventually got to the point where I dropped myself.

Anyway, come one particular match, against the side who were top of the table, we all turned up as normal but due to circumstances beyond their control, the opposing side only had ten players arrive. However, as they were superior to us in every aspect of their play, they were quite happy to play us with ten men, which, if nothing else, was pretty demeaning for our lot.

Of course, the inevitable happened and just before half time, in the only attack we had managed to mount during the previous forty minutes, their keeper got seriously hurt and was carried off. They were now down to nine men and it looked like the game would have to be abandoned, at which point, sensing at least a point for my lads, I offered to go in goal for them promising faithfully that I would, of course, be totally impartial!

Following various warnings from their captain and bearing in mind that we had only threatened their goal once in the first half, they reluctantly accepted my offer and I took my place in goal against my own team! But such was the lack of skill exhibited from my own players (this gets confusing) I had nothing to do for the rest of the half and at the break, gave my own team a rousing pep-talk designed to get them playing well enough to score a goal against me.

However, as the second-half progressed, my own team remained pegged back in their (our) own half but the team I was in goal for still could not score. It had just began to look as though we (my real side) may well get that elusive point when suddenly, a hopeful punt from our defence  (and that’s our as in my own team) released our centre forward who came charging toward me followed by their defence (the team I was playing for) who clearly who had little faith in my saving their skin. As our striker entered the box with me firmly rooted to the line, they hacked him to the ground and the ref awarded a penalty.

This now meant that I was standing on the goal line, facing a penalty about to be taken by a player from my own side who could well end up securing their (our) first win of the season, and against the top of the table side. Their (their) whole side were now giving me dire warnings of what would happen if I didn’t at least make an effort to save it while my lot were shouting at me to let it in. Meantime, I was trying to let our centre forward know that I would go to my left by using exaggerated eye movements etc, and it seemed that judging by the wry smile on his face, he had got the message. As he ran up, I dived to my left and he, thinking that I had been telling him to put it to that side, put his shot exactly where I ended up with the result that the ball hit me and bounced back into open play.

 Such was the shock of my actually saving a penalty taken by my own side, that their (their) defenders won the ball, screamed up field and scored whilst my own team remained rooted firmly to the spot in total disbelief. Inevitably, as soon as the whistle blew, the repercussions began. And eventually, after a blazing row, I resigned my position as manager and never played for the team again.

 You see, I told you. Unbelievable.

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