Tag Archives: life

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 .

The Joy of Farting…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One my little kitten has obviously reached with me.

The Joy of Farting…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One my little kitten has obviously reached with me.

Safety First!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safety First!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 ‘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?

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………