Tag Archives: lazy

An interview with author Dougie Brimson (warning: it’s long!)

"not so hard bastard" sexy lover fighting books
A handsome devil.... not.

I’ve posted this as a page on my blog but thought it might be useful to post it as a standard blog as I know some people have connections set up.

So what follows is the text of an as yet unpublished interview I gave to a journalist just yesterday (Jan 9th 2012)! I’ve posted it simply because it provides reasonable answers to many of the questions I receive on a fairly regular basis.

I hope you enjoy it but if you have a question of your own, please don’t hesitate to mail me. Oh, and it’s quite long!

How and why did you become a writer?

I fell into it by accident really and it was certainly not an aspiration or anything like it! I had left the Royal Air Force after 18 years as an engineer and was ‘working’ as an extra on TV and in films. EURO 96 was on the horizon and I was on set filming an episode of Casualty for the BBC when the idea came to write a book about my experiences following football. That book eventually became ‘Everywhere We Go’ and it really was a case of right book, right time.

The rest as they say, is history.

How do you get your ideas?

In the early days, they were driven by the readership as I thought they would be. That’s why I wrote follow-on books about local derbies, England and the London clubs (all of which are now out in eBook format).

After that, I moved into fiction which largely came about as a result of an approach from the TV writer Lynda La Plante who wanted me to write something for one of her series and from that point on, I’ve tended to write about things which either interest me or which I am passionate about. Given the way I write and the fact that much of my work revolves around my own opinions, I think it’s vital to take that approach.

How long does it typically take you to write a book?

How long is a piece of string? I actually write fairly quickly but there are all kinds of things which impact on how long a book will take to complete. However, I usually aim to have a first draft of a full-length book completed in two to three months although I actually wrote the second half of my novel Top Dog in under ten days and some people say that’s amongst my best ever stuff! 

How do you write?

I’d like to tell you that I have a very clearly defined routine which involves writing at least 5000 words a day or a straight 8 hours at the keyboard but the truth is that I am horrifically ill disciplined and it doesn’t take much to distract me if I’m not very careful. Twitter for example, can keep me occupied for hours which is quite pathetic and if I know that there’s an old movie on telly it’s game over!

I actually had to sell my beloved motorbike because if the sun was shining I’d be out on the road, deadline or no deadline!

However, if I’m in the mood I’ll sit down and simply write for as long as I can and that can be anything from 2 to 20 hours in a day. All I need is tea, food and very loud soul or jazz funk music to keep me going but make no mistake, it’s bloody hard work sometimes.

So why do it?

Well it’s actually quite a decent way to earn a living! After all, I don’t even have to get dressed most days and you can’t say that about many jobs!

More seriously, writing can also provide a real buzz especially when I get in the zone and the words just come pouring out without me having to think too about them. Whilst writing ‘The Art of Fart’ for example, I was having so much fun that I actually had to keep stopping because I’d be giggling so much I’d get tears in my eyes.

It’s also fair to say that I derive a huge amount of pleasure from interacting with readers. That’s actually a huge part of it for me because having someone tell you that they like a particular book kind of makes all those hours at a desk worthwhile if only because it proves I’m doing something right!

You seem to have written books in pretty much every format there is which is quite rare amongst authors. Why did you branch out from non-fiction?

Simply because having written four books with my brother, I wanted to do my own thing. The problem was, I didn’t really know what and so I wrote a comedy book called ‘The Geezers Guide to football’ and then a couple of thrillers before going back into non-fiction. Now I’ve written another comedy book and my next project is also more humour so maybe that’s where I’ll settle. Who knows?

Where do your ideas come from?

Two places, my warped imagination and the market. Whenever I talk to writers I always tell them that if they want to write for publication it is absolutely vital that they get to know who their target readership will be, research what they are reading and then write something to suit.

That might sound mercenary but it’s exactly what a publisher will do when they’re deciding if a submission is right for them so why not make the process easier for yourself?

In my case, my target readership is lads and as a lad myself (albeit an older version!) I understand that we’re basically simple creatures who know what we like to read and more importantly, how we like to read.  I try to give them what they want, it really is as simple as that. Thankfully, it seems to be working!

However, don’t get the impression that I take my readership be they real or potential for granted because I don’t. As a professional author my readership is my livelihood and if I don’t keep them entertained, I’ll starve!

How much time do you spend on research?

That depends on the project. When I was writing non-fiction football stuff it was a 24/7 operation because football culture was and remains a constantly moving beast. Thankfully, I had loads of good contacts who kept me supplied with information and to be fair, I couldn’t have written half as much as I have done without their help.

For the fictional and comedy stuff, research hasn’t ever really been an issue because I’ve been able to draw on personal experiences. If you’ve read ‘Billy’s Log’ I’ll come clean and say that it’s very much an amalgamation of my own life and that of my mate who will remain nameless!

So are all of your fictional characters based on real life?

sexy lads romance love
Billy's Log - autobiography?

God yes! Everyone in every novel I’ve written has been based on someone real be they family, mates or even celebrities. I ever based one character on my local newsagent!

Character creation is actually a really important part of my writing process because once I have the outline nailed down, the next stage for me is to fully construct the people I will be writing about and that starts with three things; their name, their face and their voice. After all, to all intensive purposes that character is a real person with a real history and real problems of their own and so you have to know what they will look and sound like! But equally, if you’re going to put them through something you have to understand exactly how they will react and what they will be thinking at that moment and all of that has to be built up.

That’s so much easier to do if you use a real life base-line to work from not least because if you’re struggling, you can actually ring them up and chat to them or even stick something on YouTube to give you a feel of them. It’s amazing how simply hearing someone’s voice can help you work through something. It certainly does it for me!

So what other writing tricks do you use?

Music is fundamental to my writing because I can’t write without it. But it can’t be any music, it has to be the right music. As a result, before I start work on a new project I’ll spend ages picking the right album or tracks which I put together as a playlist on iTunes. That becomes the soundtrack and it’ll be on repeat throughout the writing process.

It fairly quickly becomes almost hypnotic and I soon find that I’m able to switch in and out of a project simply by pausing the music which is an awesome thing to be able to do. The downside is that once I finish the project, I can’t listen to any of those tracks again without instinctively starting to type!

Your novels The Crew and Top Dog are two fast paced and very tightly plotted thrillers. How much work did you do in advance?

Ah….. well I actually spent a huge amount of time on these two books but the funny thing about them is that in both cases I wrote the endings first. You see I knew I wanted specific twists within the last few pages and once I had those straight in my mind I had to commit them to paper. The rest of the book was about how I took the reader to that point.

Judging by the fact that The Crew is frequently ranked at #1 in the kindle download charts for football books and is still receiving good reviews over ten years since it was first published, it clearly worked!

So why the move into comedy?

My dad was an entertainer and comedian so I think comedy is in the genes! Truth to tell, I love writing humour more than anything else although in real life, I’m desperately unfunny bordering on grumpy!

You spent a long time in the Royal Air Force. Will life in uniform ever feature in your future work? Or would you ever consider writing your autobiography?

I have a couple of ideas but at the moment, that’s all they are. I have a list of 3 or 4 books ahead of those.

As for my autobiography, it’s an idea that has cropped up a few times in recent years but the honest answer is that if I did write it, I doubt anyone would actually believe it because it would be like a bizarre version of Forest Gump! As anyone who knows me is aware, I’m one of those people ‘things’ happen to!

For example, I was quite possibly the first person in the west to know about the Chernobyl disaster! But if I tell you how, I’ll possibly have to kill you!

As a professional author, do you enjoy the part of your job which doesn’t involve writing?

I love the promotional aspect of writing and do everything I can to sell my books and spread the word about what an ex-editor once called ‘Brand Brimson’.

I also like to talk to writing groups whenever I’m asked but that’s about it really. I don’t get invited to literary functions and have never been anywhere near a literary festival of any kind.

I’m not really sure why that is but hey, that’s the literary world for you. It’s never made much sense to me.

How so?

I’ve been writing for 15 years now and one thing I’ve learned is that there are a huge number of people involved in publishing who fail to grasp the idea that the most important person in the whole process is the reader.

So does that explain why you were once quoted as saying that you’re not at the bottom of the literary ladder, you’re one of the rubber bungs underneath? What did you mean by that?

I made that comment during an interview in which I was asked about the genre of ‘hoolie-lit’ which in case you don’t know was the label tagged on to those of us who wrote books about the subject of football hooliganism.

Anyway, the point I was making that in spite of the fact that as a genre it spawned something like 60 books the bulk of which were by first time authors, drew loads of people back into reading and made a small fortune for various publishers and bookshops, no one involved has ever received any recognition let alone credit from within the literary world for what happened. Quite the opposite in fact, we just get looked down upon.

It still pisses me off to be honest. But that’s literary snobbery for you.

It’s well documented that your involvement in the Elijah Wood movie Green Street Hooligans did not go too smoothly. There have been various versions of the story but you have never really given your side of things. Would you like to take this chance to explain what really went on?

The brief version is that the director and I had a difference of opinion. She thought she knew everything and I knew she didn’t. Sadly, in the end I was forced to give up on it and walk away but the finished item kind of proves I was right because whilst it’s ok, it could have been so, so much better. That’s women for you.

Will you do more movies?

I certainly hope so!

I actually have a few screenplays on the production treadmill at the moment and would hope to do more in the future but I learnt an awful lot working on Green Street so won’t make any of the same mistakes I made there. I hope not anyway!

How did you secure your first publishing deal?

My brother and I had been writing some draft material and in the end, I walked into WH Smiths, took a book and wrote to the publishers asking if they would be interested.

That publisher was Headline and within a week or so they wrote back asking for some material and so I sent them some. They quickly came back asking for more and after two or three times I told them that if this carried on they’d have the whole book anyway so they best tell me if they wanted it or not. They wrote back and said they did and that was it.

It was only some years later that I realised how lucky we were and that it doesn’t generally happen like that!

How did you find your agent?

I don’t have an agent! Oddly, in spite of having 14 books published I’ve never been able to find one who wants to take me on so I’ve basically given up looking now. However, if anyone wants the job, I’d be happy to talk to them!

What tips would you give to aspiring writers?

The single most important piece of advice I would give them is this; if you can’t take criticism, don’t do it. Reviews can be brutal but so can reading or hearing simple feedback and if you think that you will struggle with someone slagging off your work, don’t put yourself in the firing line.

After that, it’s the basics. Write what you know, know your market, join writing groups, etc, etc. But above all, enjoy it! If you don’t, how can you expect your readers to?

What was your worst ever review?

Time out in London reviewed my first book ‘Everywhere We go’ thus: Everywhere We Go…. yeah right. Fuck off.

And your best?

I can’t remember the actual book but one of the English broadsheets (The Times I think) once called me ‘the hooligan’s pornographer-in-chief’ which I thought was quite cool. It’s certainly going on my gravestone!

Actually, the best reviews and in truth the only ones that really count are those from readers. I’m very lucky there and appreciate them all (but please, keep posting them!!)

If someone wanted to get a feel for your writing, which of your books would you recommend?

That would depend on who they were and especially what sex!

I do have a soft spot for my novels and to be honest, of all the books I’ve written ‘Billy’s Log’ is a personal favourite because it still makes me laugh. Indeed, I’m going to bow to pressure and write the sequel later this year.

What books do you read?

Autobiographies are a favourite of mine together although I steer clear of footballers and anyone under 40! I recently re-read Joan Simms book which is brilliant and very funny.

I also read military non-fiction and there is a book about the bombing raids on Port Stanley during the Falklands war called ‘Vulcan 607’ which is a particular favourite as I was there!

You have recently made the switch over to epublishing. How did that come about and how is it working?

I was approached by a company called the ebookpartnership.com who wanted to know if I would be interested in putting selected books from my backlist online.

I didn’t really know much about the process at that point but had a couple of titles which I knew I had the electronic rights to and so handed them over, more as a test than anything else. The reaction was amazing and now I have 12 of my backlist available to download. Two of those, ‘The Crew’ and ‘Everywhere We Go’  are actually free and although I was reluctant to do this at first, it has worked out astonishingly well as the ratio of sell-through purchases has been brilliant.

Is it working? Well I suddenly have full control over what I write and when I write it and it all happens at the speed I want it to happen as opposed to having to fit in with a publisher’s schedule. So hell yes! I’m a convert. So much so that I actually wrote ‘The Art of Fart’ specifically to release to the online market.

fart sex love anal "bodily functions"
The Art of Fart - Bargain!

Tell us about ‘The Art of Fart’.

As anyone who has read the opening chapter on Amazon will know, it’s yet another book which has its roots in my own life! After all, when you grow up in a house of 8, 6 of whom are male, farting is going to feature quite heavily!

But in all seriousness, it’s just a bit of fun. It was certainly hilarious to write!

So what’s next?

I’m currently working on another novel, this time a comedy about football and then I may well write the sequel to ‘Billy’s Log’ which I already have mapped out.

However, if life has taught me one thing it’s that it never runs smoothly so who knows? I just hope I’m around to find out!

The joy of an eBook author!

a kindle reader laughing at an orgasmic fart.
A Kindle reader in hysterics whilst reading The Art of Fart!

As anyone who knows me will be well aware, I have an intense dislike of the festive period and in actual fact, am something of a Grinch. There are all kinds of reasons for this ranging from my distrust of religion to the fact that my birthday is the 7th January (which meant crap presents when I was little) although to be fair, none of this has never stopped me planting myself in front of the telly for the duration and consuming both food and drink as if they were about to be made illegal.

However, as the ongoing farce that is my life meanders (or should that be bludgeons?) its way into yet another year, it might come as something of a shock to discover that I have spent much of this last festive period working feverishly.

The reason for this bizarre and totally unexpected turn of events was the launch of my latest book, The Art of Fart, which was released in December and is the first I have ever written solely for publication as an eBook.

Normally, when a new book hits the shelves, I leave the bulk of the promotional work to the publishers who will deal with all the pre-release publicity and arrange various interviews and appearances as well as sending out review copies to interested media outlets. The result being that they tell me what to do, I do it and all being well, books are purchased by the fabulous people that are the general public.

This time however, there is no PR department meaning that it’s all been down to me! Not only that but being an eBook it was fairly pointless doing any pre-launch work because there was nowhere for potential readers to even pre-order let alone download the finished article. The upshot being that I had to sit twiddling my thumbs until the day The Art of Fart hit amazon at which point, I went into a frenzy of self-promotion!

However, I quickly learnt that what little knowledge I did have with regard to the promotion of books was all but useless and so other than follow the bog-standard Facebook and Twitter route, I was faced with a fairly rapid learning curve. One which grew ever steeper the more I tried to climb it!

For having entered what was in effect a whole new world of publishing, not only did I have to totally rethink my approach to book PR but I had to take an entirely new perspective on the online writing and publishing world much of which I am ashamed to say, I had previously ignored. As a consequence, I have now become involved in various writing communities such as KIndleboards.com and writers-online.co.uk (which are actually good fun and involve all kinds of lovely, talented people!) and thanks to them, have been able to learn a huge amount about the delights of such mysteries as amazon tagging, twitter hashtags, etc.

Thankfully, it seems to be working really well and is actually having a knock-on benefit with my other ebooks as the number of downloads have all increased markedly. On which note, I am delighted to inform you that thanks to the good folk at www.ebookpartnership.com who I cannot commend highly enough, if you search my name on any ebook outlet you will see that my novel The Crew is a free download as is my very first book, Everywhere We Go. Indeed, I now have a total of 12 ebooks available online and not just for the Kindle but all other electronic readers as well as your PC.

Of course now that everyone is drifting back to work the next stage of promotion can begin as I will begin targeting the established print and broadcast media. Hopefully, that will secure some press exposure although it’s fair to say that the title of the book let alone the subject matter may well limit the opportunities available!

farts are sexy
farts are sexy

I also have a few other ideas on the backburner including one which I hope will be quite spectacular! That may well have to wait until it’s a bit warmer though!

Now whilst all of this is good fun and is hopefully spreading the word and selling lots of downloads, the problem is that doing all of this takes time which stops me doing anything else. And one of the most important questions I have to address is what to do next!

I have managed to whittle this down to three ideas now and all being well, will make the final decision over the next day or so. One thing I do know is that it will almost certainly be another eBook. Primarily because it’s such good fun!

On which note, if you haven’t read it yet, The Art of Fart is available for just £1.53 at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-Fart-Joy-Flatulence-ebook/dp/B006MISNFI/ or $2.68 at http://www.amazon.com/Art-Fart-Joy-Flatulence-ebook/dp/B006MISNFI/

If you do read it, please let me know what you think or better still, leave a review on amazon. They really do help!

No More Mr Nice Guy.

As requested ...

The other day someone levelled an accusation at me. I have, apparently, mellowed.

Initially, I dismissed this outrageous slur out of hand but as they pointed out, my blog, which was set up for the sole purpose of providing somewhere for me to get things off my chest, has recently become little more than a cross between a glorified diary and a series of plugs. And to be fair, as I pondered this later on, I realised that my accuser was right. The question of course, is why?

After all, I pride myself on my love of moaning and as plenty of people can testify, it’s not like I moan any less these days nor is it for want of suitable subject matter! Leaving aside my personal and working life (if only you knew the half of it!) I only have to pick up any national newspaper or turn on TalkSport and I guarantee that within 30 seconds I’ll be off about something.

Equally, I have always loved sitting down and tearing into something or someone but it is nevertheless a fact that my enthusiasm for letting rip has indeed waned in recent months. Which brought me back to the question of why?

However, before I could even begin the search for an answer to this most simple of questions, it landed in my inbox courtesy of The Purple Diva. An amazing woman and a fabulous writer who does things with words the like of which I can only dream about. And it came courtesy of a simple URL. A URL which led me to what I can only term a proper full bore championship winning rant.

It was sent in January 2001 by the famous author Hunter S. Thompson to Holly Sorensen, then a Production Executive at an independent film studio, The Shooting Gallery and related to the adaptation of his novel, The Rum Diary, to which Sorensen’s studio held the rights. Things had not gone well and eventually, Thompson reached boiling point.

Read on…..

Transcript

To HOLLY SORENSON / Shooting Gallery / Hollywood / Jan 22 ’01

Dear Holly,

Okay, you lazy bitch, I’m getting tired of this waterhead fuckaround that you’re doing with The Rum Diary.

We are not even spinning our wheels aggressively. It’s like the whole Project got turned over to Zombies who live in cardboard boxes under the Hollywood Freeway… I seem to be the only person who’s doing anything about getting this movie Made. I have rounded up Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Brad Pitt, Nick Nolte & a fine screenwriter from England , named Michael Thomas, who is a very smart boy & has so far been a pleasure to talk to & conspire with…

So there’s yr. fucking Script & all you have to do now is act like a Professional & Pay him. What the hell do you think Making a Movie is all about? Nobody needs to hear any more of that Gibberish about yr. New Mercedes & yr. Ski Trips & how Hopelessly Broke the Shooting Gallery is…. If you’re that fucking Poor you should get out of the Movie Business. It is no place for Amateurs & Dilletants who don’t want to do anything but “take lunch” & Waste serious people’s Time.

Fuck this. We have a good writer, we have the main parts casted & we have a very marketable movie that will not even be hard to make….

And all you are is a goddamn Bystander, making stupid suggestions & jabbering now & then like some half-bright Kid with No Money & No Energy & no focus except on yr. own tits…. I’m sick of hearing about Cuba & Japs & yr. Yo-yo partners who want to change the story because the violence makes them Queasy.

Shit on them. I’d much rather deal with a Live asshole than a Dead worm with No Light in his Eyes…. If you people don’t want to Do Anything with this movie, just cough up the Option & I’ll talk to someone else. The only thing You’re going to get by quitting and curling up in a Foetal position is relentless Grief and Embarrassment. And the one thing you won’t have is Fun…

Okay, That’s my Outburst for today. Let’s hope that it gets Somebody off the dime. And if you don’t Do Something QUICK you’re going to Destroy a very good idea. I’m in the mood to chop yr. fucking hands off.

R.S.V.P

(Signed)

HUNTER

Upon reading this, I immediately realised what my problem has been. Instead of embracing the concept that my blog allows me the freedom to say pretty much what I want about what I want whenever I want, I had instead begun to follow the ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’ ideal.

More worryingly, that had also begun to spill over into my working life. My god, I have lost count of the number of times in recent months I have encountered either ineptitude, deceit or even condescension and instead of sending off a Thompsonesque style missile aimed directly at the relevant anus, I have sat back and done pretty much sod all. In essence, I had somehow become ‘nice’.

Fuck off

Well fuck that. No more doormat for me. Normal service is about to resume.

Be warned….

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! 🙂

Hillsborough… and other stuff.

Time wasting

The other day, whilst trawling the internet in one of my all too frequent bouts of boredom, I stumbled across a link which took me to a message board. Nothing unusual in that you might think but this particular one was overflowing with vitriol aimed at a journalist. Mind you there’s nothing unusual in that either.

However, what captured my interest in this instance was the reason for that vitriol. It was the fact that the journalist had written a piece about the Hillsborough disaster.

Now as any football fan will know, Hillsborough is an emotive issue, especially to the people of Liverpool. And as someone who has written extensively about it in the past and being one of the few people who question some of the sentiments which have come to cloud opinion surrounding what happened, I know better than anyone that if you write about Hillsborough, unless you want to get slaughtered you had best get your facts right and/or be prepared to back up every letter you commit to paper.

Sadly, this journalist fell foul of both of these golden rules because to say his article was ill-informed and poorly researched would be to give new meaning to the word ‘understatement’. To make matters worse, the inevitable negative response to his article was discussed on one of those dreadful news debate shows the US media love to produce and if anything, that was even worse! Because whilst their defence of their colleague was stout, their references to the disaster were equally flawed! Not surprisingly, the subsequent response was, to say the least, equally colourful.

The problem was however, that the bulk of those responses were based on a particular perception of what happened on that fateful day. One which placed every single ounce of blame on the police. And as anyone who has ever read any of my work will know, in spite of my sentiments toward the thin blue line, I don’t subscribe to this view at all.

Normally, given that Hillsborough is one of the subjects I tend to shy away from these days (extreme right-wing politics, immigration and women drivers being amongst the others) I would have avoided becoming involved in this debate. However, on this occasion a heady mix of irritation, boredom and a desire for amusement sucked me in.

Even more unusually, rather than make tongue-in-cheek comments designed simply to get people fired up, (as I said, I needed a bit of amusement) the fact that it was about such a serious and controversial issue actually resulted in me behaving myself. The consequence being that aside from resulting in a quite reasonable debate with a guy who eventually almost conceded that I had a point (which obviously I do) I suddenly realised that I had wasted an entire day.

And that, in a nutshell, is the point of this blog.

No, it’s got nothing to do with Hillsborough. It’s to do with time management. Because that day is a day I’ll never get back and it really should have been spent doing something more productive.

Yet all too often in recent years, I have fallen into the trap of getting involved in pointless debates with even more pointless people and if I should have learnt one thing by now, it’s that to anyone who is self-employed, Facebook and Twitter are the tools the devil has devised to exploit our inherent weaknesses and steal our valuable time.

So please excuse me if I frequent them less from now on. Indeed, if I am to make a new years resolution it will be to stay away from social media sites. Although saying that, I do have this idea for a fabulous book about Facebook.

No honestly, it’s genius. It just needs a bit more research……

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?

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!

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 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 Wasted Years (I think not!)

Like many people, I am at my happiest when I’m sitting down and doing bugger all. There is, as I’m sure you’ll agree, something incredibly gratifying about doing nothing.

Indeed, it is fair to say that these days, having passed the magic five-zero, the avoidance of work, be it paid or domestic, doesn’t just give me huge amounts of pleasure, it’s actually a source of pride. Something that the half built brick barbecue in my back garden stands as a monument to.

I actually first grasped the concept of idleness whilst serving in the Royal Air Force. For having worked hard for years and got nowhere, I suddenly realised that all of my immediate bosses were lazy so-and-so’s who were getting all the praise –and wages- while mugs like me did all the graft. However, in the forces, it’s not regarded as being idle, it’s celebrated as delegation. And once I embraced that idea, with both hands I might add, I pretty soon found myself flying up that promotion ladder.

Tragically, outside the confines of HM Forces, things weren’t so easy. I soon learnt that being expected to actually work for a living wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. And I could never escape the idea that someone was driving around in a Aston Martin which I had paid for. I wasn’t happy with that at all, hence, the move into writing. It was the only occupation I could think of which allowed me to work from home, for myself and remain sitting down all day.

Of course, I quickly discovered that being a writer does have other advantages. The most obvious of which was that I was able to justify my love of lounging around as either ‘thinking time’ or ‘clearing my head’ time. Both things for which, somewhat ironically, daytime TV is perfectly suited. After all, I have to get inspiration from somewhere. And if you watch This Morning long enough, sooner or later, every known form of life is going to pass by in front of your eyes. Watch MTV and you’re mind goes blank in minutes.

Sadly, my wife has always been wise to this. And as time passes, and her life as a full-time mother, housewife and carer to her husband shows no sign of easing up, she is becoming increasingly irritated at my pathetic attempts to justify watching Sky Sports or reading Zoo at times when I should be working.

And, it is fair to say that for a while, I started to feel a degree of sympathy for her case. Because the truth is, I have never really been inspired by either The Real Deal or Loose Women. And although the gloriously wonderful Holly Willoughby merits a fantasy-laden mention in my next movie, I hardly need to watch This Morning every day.

However, recently I have had not one, but two odd experiences. Both of which made me realize that not only might my pangs of guilt be misplaced, but that maybe my commitment to time wasting has not been in vain.

The first of them happened in Manchester. I had ventured North for some reason or another and was returning to the sanctuary of the South when, upon my arrival at Piccadilly Station, I was greeted by the stench and noise that can only be created by that relic of the so-called good old days, a steam engine. Of course, realizing that such a machine was in residence, my heart sank. For I knew exactly what was coming and sure enough, as I walked around the corner, I couldn’t see the beast for the hoards of middle-aged saddo’s pointing and muttering excitedly about piston sizes and boiler pressures. These weren’t your ordinary feeble part-time trainspotters you see standing on the platform at Euston with a notepad in one hand and a flask of tea in the other. These were the real deal hard-core spotters of the type who wear sleeveless anoraks covered in small metal badges and smell of meths. But as I watched what was going on, in a kind of detached bewilderment, it struck me as decidedly odd that in this day and age, not only could grown men be whipped up into an almost orgasmic frenzy by the sight of a simple machine, but that they would want to be.

Then, two weeks later, for reasons to banal to relate, I had to endure a day at an old RAF airfield in Gloucestershire. As we were having a coffee in a café in the control tower, I happened to notice a group of elderly chaps in stained overalls, sitting in the corner and arguing over an old book. Being naturally nosey (it goes with the job) I soon learnt that they were aircraft enthusiasts in the middle of restoring an old De Haviland Comet. And they were having a heated discussion about the markings on a particular fuse box. Believe it or not, the book they were using contained the actual manufacturers drawings. It was a picture of tragedy.  

Reflecting on this and the Manchester experience as I headed homeward, the thought suddenly struck me that not only were all the people involved in the fuse box debate men, but that you never see any female trainspotters. And then I began to consider the possibility that maybe something else was going on. Maybe the people who indulge in these most unfathomable of practices do so not because they’re sad loners, but because it’s something to do with their spare time. And why on earth would anyone need to fill time? Isn’t it obvious? 

These poor men aren’t sad, they’re victims. Driven out of their own homes by bitter women who refuse to sit back and allow them the luxury of enjoying their hard earned time-off in the comfort of their own homes. Think about it. It makes perfect sense. I mean, why else would blokes have sheds? They’re the only space in the house that they can call their own!

So, having deliberated over this at length, I have decided that rather than feel guilty about being idle, the fact that I am able to spend most of my time here in my own home at all should be regarded as a moral victory. And while it might not appear that I’m doing much, at least I’m happy which is the most important thing.

 My wife may not like that, but maybe if I explain it to her just one more time………