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It’s me!

As you may or may not have noticed, the level of work I’ve been putting into my blog in recent weeks has slowed to what can only be described as pathetic.

In my defence, to say life has been manic of late would be an understatement as I’ve had various producers champing at my creative backside in an effort to secure either revisions or my services.

Not that I am ungrateful of course, but sometimes, I do wish I had half-decent time management skills or better still, the ability to say NO to people who are being, for want of a better word, twats.

Indeed, it’s fair to say that one of the worst things about being a writer is that you are usually the first link in the creative chain of a project and the last one to get either paid or recognised. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made the point to people that without writers, there would be no…… well, anything. Yet as a breed, we are quite possibly the most frequently shafted group within any creative field.

I’m not sure quite how we have allowed ourselves to end up like this but it is certainly something I’m keen to change even if it is only for my own sanity.

However, in the meantime I will do my utmost to update my blog on a more regular basis not least because I have a few things I really do need to get off my chest.

Oh yes……..

It’s me!

As you may or may not have noticed, the level of work I’ve been putting into my blog in recent weeks has slowed to what can only be described as pathetic.

In my defence, to say life has been manic of late would be an understatement as I’ve had various producers champing at my creative backside in an effort to secure either revisions or my services.

Not that I am ungrateful of course, but sometimes, I do wish I had half-decent time management skills or better still, the ability to say NO to people who are being, for want of a better word, twats.

Indeed, it’s fair to say that one of the worst things about being a writer is that you are usually the first link in the creative chain of a project and the last one to get either paid or recognised. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made the point to people that without writers, there would be no…… well, anything. Yet as a breed, we are quite possibly the most frequently shafted group within any creative field.

I’m not sure quite how we have allowed ourselves to end up like this but it is certainly something I’m keen to change even if it is only for my own sanity.

However, in the meantime I will do my utmost to update my blog on a more regular basis not least because I have a few things I really do need to get off my chest.

Oh yes……..

2011!

Apologies for the lack of any fresh blogs recently but life has been a bit hectic in Brimson Towers of late and time to sit down and work on anything creative which doesn’t involve soldiers, nurses, war, football or hooligans has been in short supply.

Anyway, I would like to wish all and sundry a belated happy new year and the very best for 2011. If all goes to plan it should be a very good one for me but then again, I say that every year!

I am certainly confident that some of the hard work I put in over the last 12 months will start to pay off and have high hopes that by this time next year I’ll have at least two if not three movies completed. I’m also extremely keen to do at least one more novel this year but again, as with all things it comes down to time.

More news as and when…..  Onwards and upwards! 🙂

Cooking the books (and the telly)

For some time now, I have watched bemused as the cult of the celebrity cook has taken an increasingly tight grasp hold on the consciousness of this country.

Almost every evening these days our television channels are swamped with programmes made by smug twats showing us how to cook pretentious food which no one other a wannabe smug twat would ever even attempt to try and cook. As if that isn’t bad enough, a visit to any bookstore or supermarket (sic) will see shelves positively sagging under legions of weighty tomes written by the same smug twats for the delectation of the same wannabe smug twats.

Quite how this cult ever came to pass escapes me and normally I would say a hearty fair play to all of those currently making fortunes off the back of the great British public. After all, I’ve done much the same thing albeit on a (much) smaller scale.

However, the fact that both television and publishing have become obsessed with celebrity chefs is becoming an increasing irritation to me. Not least because some of those at the ‘sharp’ end are seemingly so far up themselves that I’m amazed they can actually see daylight. Saint Jamie Oliver clearly believes that he alone (well, with a bit of help from Sainsbury’s obviously) can save the nation whilst Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall definitely lives in a different world from me. River Cottage my arse.

Antony Worrall Thompson has a face you would never tire of hitting, Gordon Ramsey, clever though he obviously is, brings new meaning to the word annoying (really Gordon, saying ‘fuck’ over and over again might have worked once, now it’s just tedious. Ask Roger Melly) and as for Heston Blumenthal (a man so ‘talented’ he doesn’t have a kitchen on his show, has a lab!) he’s quite possibly the most annoying git on TV.

Aside from being irritating, the one thing all the above have in common is that they are male and hereby lies my biggest problem. It’s not that these ‘cooking’ shows are inevitably slanted toward women (which if nothing else, reinforces the idea that the average bloke can’t or won’t cook) nor is it the fact that by virtue of the fact that these blokes can cook, they are elevated to god-like status in the eyes of the female population. It’s the fact that when you add together the amount of time cooking shows consume on our airwaves and then combine that with the hours of soap’s and home decorating shows which increasingly dominate our evenings viewing, it is clear that the nations broadcasters have forgotten that 50% of the population are actually male! And aside from Top Gear (and even that’s arguable these days) there are next to no programmes on terrestrial TV which are actually directed solely at men! Daytime TV is even worse! Some of the shite on there is bordering on anti-male! Loose Women… please, do me a favour and piss off!

It’s got to the stage now where if we men want to watch something made for ‘us’ then we have  to go to satellite TV and channels such as Discovery, Dave and the History Channel. That’s just not right.

So the next time some woman moans about the amount of sport on TV, feel free to show her the TV schedules and give her a bit of a reality check. Better still, inform her that having wasted countless hours listening and watching as some smug twat instructs her in the art of stuffing a hedgehog with stewed venison tongue coated in elderberry jelly or some other such bollocks, she might actually put some of her new found knowledge to good use by heading for the kitchen and rustling you up a meal. 

After all, you might as well get something out of it. Even if it is inedible.

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.

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 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 .

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 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!