Tag Archives: Life

The joy of football – local rivals.

hooligan kidI know this might seem odd to some, but believe it or not, there are people who don’t actually follow football. To them, it’s simply a game awash with obscene amounts of money which is played by morons and watched by fools.

To be fair, that’s a pretty close summary of things at certain clubs but it misses the point. Being a football fan isn’t just about watching great football, in some instances it isn’t even about watching crap football. It’s about everything else that goes along with it. Be it the emotional turmoil, the time spent with mates, the laughs, the tears, the moans and a million things between.

Trying to explain all that to someone who doesn’t share your passion, especially when there are parts of it you question yourself, is incredibly difficult if not impossible. But there is one subject which is beyond explanation because in many ways, it is totally nonsensical. It is the subject of local rivalry. Or to be more specific, how that rivalry manifests itself in every day life.

Now if you know about this, you know. It’s as simple as that. But if you don’t understand why the sight of a local rivals shirt in the local Tesco can be so irritating or grasp the concept of refusing to employ someone purely because they support the club up the road, nothing I say can ever enlighten you. We know it’s irrational, stupid and even childish, but it’s what we do.

And that brings me to the point of this blog. You see as I was trawling through my folders this morning looking for something I still haven’t found, I stumbled across a piece I wrote for one of my very early books, Derby Days. It refers to an experience I had whilst serving with the Royal Air Force and if anything I’ve ever written highlights the stupidity of following football, it’s this.

But if the same thing happened today, I wouldn’t hesitate to do exactly the same thing. Enjoy!

In 1993, I suffered the unimaginable horror of being posted to serve a four-month tour of duty on the Falkland Islands. Normally, such things are great fun but 16 weeks on Mount Pleasant airfield means a time of unspeakable boredom punctuated only by work, homesickness, excessive bouts of drinking and, depending on which Army regiment is there at the time, fighting.

As someone who stopped drinking some years ago (not because of any alcohol-related problem, but because I am crap at it), who avoids any kind of work with a passion and who would now rather have a decent cup of tea than become involved in any kind of violence, the four months stretching before me as I walked off the plane seemed like an eternity.

But holed-up in a single room, living with loads of blokes in a permanent state of either drunkenness or hangover, I soon took a decision the like of which I never thought would be forced upon me. I decided to use the time to get fit.

Now one thing I do have to say about the Forces is that they like their people to be fit and able, and as I fitted neither of those descriptions, the superb facilities available in the Falklands were soon being put to good use by yours truly. Within a few weeks, I had lost weight and was ‘pumping iron’ and circuit training with the best of them. Something else happened as well, which was a bit scary: I even started to enjoy it.

It was at this point that I met a bloke called Paul. He was, like me, a reluctant regular in the gym and, like me, looked as out of place as a copy of Playboy in a dentist’s waiting-room. But he was a decent bloke, like me in the RAF and married and lived in a town about 40 miles from where I was brought up.

Eventually, we decided to work on our fitness together and soon got to the point where we would partner each other in the weekly competitions which could be anything from badminton to basketball.

We were both doing well, weight was falling off and I was feeling healthier than I had for years but because we were different ranks (I was a SNCO, he was an oik), Paul and I never saw each other outside of the gym. This was to change one weekend, when I managed to get hold of a daily paper (like gold dust back then) and decided to go to the Christian reading rooms for a coffee while digesting the news from back home.

As it happened, Paul was there and we started chatting about families and back home, as you always do in those situations. Now, for some reason, we had never got round to talking about football. I have absolutely no idea why not, but when we did, the truth came out. For some reason, I had expected Paul to be a Spurs fan, but no, he calmly announced to me, as if it were normal, that not only was he a L*t*n Town fan, he was in fact a season-ticket holder so attended every home game.

I looked at him in abject horror as the realisation that I had been fraternising for weeks with one of the enemy hit home like a Mohammed Ali right-hander. When I asked him if he was joking, the look on my face clearly had a similar effect and after an exchange frequently peppered with the word ‘scummer’ I did the only thing I could do. Holding onto what dignity I had left, I got up, grabbed my paper and walked off.

We never spoke again.

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watford

 

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Actor, acting, author, screenwriting, writing, football, hooligan, hooliganism, chicklit, sex, sexism, humour, humor, comedy, violence, gang, Martin Kemp, Spandau Ballet, ebooks, self publishing,  amazon, racism, racist, police, hollywood, British film, London, England, gay, lesbian, homosexual, politics,  

How to create characters (according to me!)

writing, screenwriting, author, writer

I was asked this morning how I come up with names for my characters and since I haven’t blogged for a while I thought it might be an idea to kill two birds with one stone by writing something about the process and how I go about it.

It is important to stress however, that this is how I do it. As I’ve written before, I have never studied the craft of writing and so have no idea if there is a standard ‘way’ or not. This works for me and that’s all I need to worry about.

Character development is actually one of the most fun parts of the writing process for me because it allows me the opportunity to play god. And given that it’s fairly certain that he and I will not be meeting in the afterlife as I’ll almost certainly be heading south, it’s an opportunity I tend to relish for all kinds of reasons. Revenge being just one.

Now, I know that in both Billy Evans and Billy Ellis I have created characters which have and will make return appearances but that’s a different blog altogether. This is about the first time they make an appearance in my psyche but be it a novel or a screenplay, initially it always starts with the same thing, the story. Be it tightly or loosely plotted, it is vital that you, as the writer, have some idea of the journey you’re going to take your creations on before you start putting them together. Once you have that, then you can start putting flesh on bones. It is however, important to understand that to all intents and purposes, your characters are, and must be, real people with real histories, personalities, flaws and fears. They have to be for reasons which should be obvious. And key to that is making them ‘real’ in every sense of the word.

For me, the first stage of that process is to give them a name, a face and a voice. The name is the easier of the three because all it has to do it fit the individual and the world you want them to inhabit. Can you imagine Billy Evans being called Tarquin Selby-Green? Of course not, it would never work. Billy is short, sharp, blokey and slightly cheeky so it was perfect for the main man in both The Crew and Billy’s Log.

I also wanted the christian names to be short and punchy. Evans was my former agents name and Billy Ellis rolls off the tongue. Simple as that. But in the past I’ve found names for my characters simply by scrolling through Facebook and finding something which I think fits. However, a name can be changed fairly easily, usually with a few clicks of a button, the face and the voice are far more important because as you spend more and more time with these imaginary people, they will fairly quickly come to haunt your consciousness.

When a character first appears in your head, he or she will inevitably have a certain look and Billy Ellis was no exception. From day one he was medium height, stocky, dark haired and had a cheeky face. In essence, like any one of a hundred lads I know. I also knew immediately what I wanted him to sound like and so once I had the plot tied down, I went looking for him.

Oh yes, every character in everything I’ve ever written is based on a real person. In the case of Billy Evans, it was a mate. Now I won’t say who he is (he knows, but he is very different from Leo Gregory which is why I had so many initial problems when I began adapting the book for the screen) but I follow this same model for every character in everything I write. The reason being that if I ever find myself struggling, I can either ring up that person or YouTube them. Trust me, it’s amazing how quickly and easily a quick chat or a short video clip can free up the mind and spark something off.

Of course as work progresses the characters begin to take on lives of their own which is exactly as it should be but as a starting point, basing them on real people certainly works for me and in all honesty, that’s all I care about!

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readers, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boysWork on Top Dog is all but complete now and having seen an initial edit, I have to say it’s looking brilliant. I’m not going to get all gushy about how amazing everyone looks and what a fabulous job Martin has done suffice to say, I could not have asked for better from anyone involved. I certainly can’t wait to see it on a big screen and whilst I have a rough idea of release dates I’m not going to pass them on as that isn’t down to me. However, as soon as I’m allowed to pass them on you’ll be amongst the first to know.

The new novel is also progressing well and should be released in a few months in both eBook and paperback formats. I can’t say anything about it as the moment but I think and indeed, hope, it’s going to cause something of a stir. Indeed, we believe that in some respects, it’s something of a first!

Exciting times!

Goodbye 2013… You were the year that was!

fate, writing, author, screenwriterSo that’s it, almost done. Another year, another 12 months of highs and lows which when bundled together, forge the latest instalment of the soap opera that is my life.

I’m not normally one to look backwards and indeed, recently tweeted ‘just because the past taps you on the shoulder, it doesn’t mean you have to look back’ which kind of sums up my outlook on life these days. However, 2013 is worthy of a bit of retrospect if only because in terms of my career, it was a game changer.

Key to this was inevitably Top Dog. Indeed, 12 months ago the very idea of my ten year old novel hitting the big screen was little more than a very distant pipe dream yet here we are, teetering on the edge of a first screening and all the furore which will (hopefully) come with a release. Thanks for that must go largely to Jonathan Sothcott, Martin Kemp and of course, Leo Gregory who have driven it through from concept to reality and along the way taught me more about the creative process than any college or university could ever have.

To say it’s been an experience would be an understatement but unlike working on Green Street which was nothing less than a bloody nightmare, this time round it’s been a blast and I can only say thanks to everyone who made it so. The entire cast and crew were magnificent to work with and fingers crossed, we’ll do it all again very soon.

On the publishing front, it’s been a brilliant year and I’m very proud of the fact that I now have books going back into print with more lined up to follow. That would not have happened without the combined efforts of Matt at the eBook partnership and Darren of Caffeine Nights Publishing and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to you both.

But equally, I have to say a massive thank you to everyone who has continued to support me by buying my books because in many ways, you are the most important people of all in my creative life. I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here writing this without your support and rest assured, you are and always will sit firmly at the top of my ‘keep happy’ list because without you, god only know’s where I’d be!

And so it’s onto 2014. A year which will see Top Dog hit the screens, the filming and release of We Still Kill the Old Way as well as the publication of at least two books. And that’s just what I have confirmed at the moment because the truth is, there could be more. Much more.

Indeed, whilst I’ll long remember this last year for all kinds of reasons, the one thing that will stick with me forever is that fate has method in its madness.

So goodbye 2013, you really were something special. But 2014 is going to blow you out of the water.

Happy new year everyone. Bring it on.

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The Crew. Top Dog, Green Street, Leo Gregory, British film, thrillerDespite having been around for what seems like forever, The Crew continues to sell well in both paper and eBook format which I suspect has much to do with the revised cover featuring a certain Mr Gregory. To answer a number of questions on the subject, no, the picture is not a still from Top Dog (you can see lots of those by clicking here) but was actually taken before filming commenced. When Top Dog is reissued it will feature a similar style cover as will the third book in the series which will hopefully be ready for publication late next year.

Wings of a Sparrow is also selling well in both formats and yes, I totally agree with everyone who has told me it would make a great movie! Sadly, whilst I have a script written it is not I who has to put up the money to make it but trust me, finding that finance is high on my ‘to do’ list for 2014!

Twitter isn’t the enemy, you are.

twitter, troll, trolling, writer, green street, top dog, You can’t possibly have failed to notice that this last week has seen something of a furore around the subject of twitter trolls and the issue of what is and is not acceptable online behaviour. As a consequence, there are increasing calls for twitter to be regulated and even policed to clamp down on those who transgress the rules of common decency.

They are wrong. Very wrong.

Now as anyone who follows me on twitter will know I am a huge fan. To me it’s a great source of both news and amusement as well as being a fantastic way to promote my books and well, what I do. Most importantly for me at least, it’s a great way to interact with readers and it’s fair to say that I’ve made some great mates though twitter with I hope, many more to come.

However, I’ve also encountered some proper dicks over the years and received more than my share of abuse from all kinds of trolls. This last week for example, besides the usual ‘shit writer’ fair, I’ve been accused of condoning child abuse, being a child abuser, being sexist, homophobic and racist. None of which is particularly nice I’m sure you’ll agree but, and this is the crux of this whole matter, I know how to deal with it. And by that I mean me. Not twitter, not my ISP and not the police, me.

And at the heart of that is one simple statement, ‘it’s not personal, it’s twitter’.

The day you start screaming blue murder about something mean said about you by some anonymous idiot on a social networking site is the day your life begins to spiral out of control. No, it’s not nice to be accused of being a rapist and I’m fairly certain that it’s not nice to read that someone is going to rape you but by reacting, you do exactly what the person who wrote it wants you to do, take them seriously and give them power. And power is all they’re after.

This is where people are getting it wrong when they claim twitter should be clamping down on trolls. Twitter doesn’t have to. You do, as the individual.

Yes, of course there are exceptions just as there are to every rule and yes, there will be instances where the police should and must get involved. But in the main, it is your choice to react, ignore or hit the block button which twitter already provides for you to use in just such cases.

If you don’t understand that and don’t accept that in many ways, twitter is the greatest manifestation of free speech we have, then rather than scream blue murder about the need for censorship (yes, censorship) why not take control yourself and employ the ultimate sanction, delete your account.

Because you do actually have that option at your disposal and speaking as a twitter fan, if you do indeed think that twitter is there to serve you and not the other way round, then I’d urge you to do just that.

I for one won’t miss you one bit.

@dougiebrimson

readers, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boys

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This last couple of weeks has seen lots of progress on the movie adaptation of Top Dog and we’ll be releasing news of what’s been going on very soon. I’ll also be able to pass on details of the brand new movie I’m working on as well as a fantastic self-publishing project!

Exciting times!

5 ways football could be made even better.

green street, top dog, football, ebooks, flares, pyro, soccer, NFL, EPL, screenwriting, authorIn a matter of days, English football will wake from it’s enforced slumber and return to it’s rightful position of being the most important topic of conversation in the land. Forget royal babies, Big Brother, the Tour De France, the economy, Syria or any of the numerous trivialities we’ve been forced to think about over the last few months, the worlds greatest game is what it’s really all about.

Now as I do each and every year, I have avoided the constant stream of bullshit which has surrounded the close-season transfer market so that when I walk into Vicarage Road next saturday to watch the first home pre-season friendly -traditionally the start of my season- it will be as if it’s all fresh and new. Although given everything that’s been going on at Watford lately, in this instance it actually will be!

However, I have kept my beady eyes on everything else and not for the first time, have noticed that there has been little news of any change which might impact on the role of possibly the games greatest asset, the fans.

This is far from a shock of course because I’ve been around long enough to know that whilst the game is totally reliant on us for pretty much everything and TV is busy selling the game on the back of the atmosphere that we create, the reality is that it doesn’t really give a shit about us.

But then again it doesn’t have to because we’re obsessed. The game knows full well that we’ll turn up week in, week out and pour money into the tills no matter how good or bad the product. Just as importantly, even when things go horribly wrong we have to put up with them because we are totally impotent in terms of either power or influence. We have no legitimate voice, football doesn’t want us to have a voice! Perish the thought that the game which is wholly reliant on us would actually listen to us let alone care about what we think! Football is after all, the only industry not driven by its consumers.

If it wasn’t, do you think for one second games that would be moved around on the whim of a copper or a TV scheduler with no thought for how fans are going to get home? And that’s just the start.

The list of things we can legally do inside grounds grows ever shorter whilst the restrictions placed upon us in and around grounds get more draconian by the season. As a consequence the passion, humour and even the shear excitement of being at football is diminishing year on year yet no one with the power to change things seems to care because no one with the power to change things has to care.

Can you honestly say that going to watch English football these days is the occasion it once was? Do you not look at fans in Italy, Spain, Russia, Germany, Turkey even countries like Greece and wish that our stadia were like that on match days? I bloody do. Every single week.

The irony is that it wouldn’t take much to get our game up to a par, if not beyond what we see in the rest of Europe. After all, there is nothing like an English football ground when it’s fired up. The question is, how?

Well how about this for starters:

  1. Start treating fans like adults instead of sheep. We don’t want much from football, but we do want to be treated with respect. Hooliganism inside grounds is a thing of the past and much of that is down to the actual fans themselves so how about the game not only recognising it but rewarding it? Stop hiding behind the fear of it.
  2. Bring back standing. It’s proven to work in Germany and there is absolutely no reason why it wouldn’t and shouldn’t work here. But the most important reason is that we want it. Period.
  3. Scrap designated seating. It’s a good idea in principle but in practice it’s the single biggest factor in the destruction of atmosphere inside our grounds. That is a cast iron fact.
  4. Allow flares inside grounds. They look astonishing and contribute to the sense of  occasion. When used correctly they are perfectly safe as we see right across the continent  every single week. Again, you can’t continue to hide behind the past and in truth you don’t need to.
  5. Allow drinking on the terraces. Yes, keep the rules regarding being hammered and enforce them accordingly but we’re adults for fucks sake.

Sadly, none of the above will happen because the game cannot see what is happening in front of its face and more importantly, the police are wary of giving up any degree of control however small.

But it’s nice to dream and maybe one day, when the football party come to power, some of it will actually turn to reality.

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football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritance, premiership, england, watford, zola, football, soccer, brimson, wembley, crystal palace, top dog, green streetCouple of bits of news; As you may or may not have seen,Martin Kemp has been announced as the director of Top Dog which is brilliant news for all concerned not least because he’s a bloody good director!

We’ve been battering the script into shape and I’m happy to say that it’s now pretty much locked and ready for filming in November. I can’t wait!

In addition, my latest novel Wings of a Sparrow continues to attract great reviews and is selling so well that we’ll be bringing it out in paperback later this year. It’s also coming out in Russia in August and I’ll be visiting St. Petersburg and possibly Moscow in September to do some PR.

Wings, together with The Crew and Top Dog will also be making their way across the Atlantic later this year but more of that closer the time.

On top of that, I’m about to start work on another movie and am currently writing a new book. It’s going to be something very special and as far as I know, has never actually been done before so we’re all very excited about it but that’s all you’re getting for now.

Watch this space!

 

top dog, green street, the crew. hooligans, violence, sex, racism, self-publishing, author, screenwriting, writing, writer

 

How to bring your novel to life.

readers, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boysOK, I own up. The title to this blog is slightly misleading because if you were expecting a writing lesson, you are going to be disappointed. In fact, to be perfectly honest anyone seeking a writing lesson from me is going to be disappointed because as I’ve written many times, I don’t actually know how I’m getting away with it so I am hardly qualified to advise anyone else!

No, the title to this blog refers to them actually taking on a three dimensional form in the actor sense. Because after what seems many years of what feels like post-Green Street herculean effort, it appears that one of my projects is finally making the leap from ‘almost there’ to ‘off and running’ with the announcement that Universal Pictures UK have signed as the distributors of my adaptation of Top Dog. Full details of that can be found here.

So, how did this happen? Well the truth is, like many of the events which form what can laughingly be called ‘my career’ it was down to moaning. And to a lesser extent, Twitter.

I won’t ramble on too much, but the short version is this. One day, as I was trawling Twitter in an effort to avoid actually writing, the name Leo Gregory popped up. Now Leo, as many of you will know, is the actor who played Bovver in Green Street and gave, quite simply, the stand out performance in the movie. He’s also a top bloke and so I dropped him a note and asked if he fancied taking a look at a project I thought he’d be perfect for.

Luckily, he agreed, loved it and so at the back end of last year, we met and chatted. Inevitably, talk turned to Green Street, the many imitators it spawned and the fact that in both our opinions, no movie thus far has actually failed to pull off the whole ‘hooligan’ ‘lads’ thing convincingly. This moaning led into discussions about my novels The Crew and Top Dog which in turn led to a meeting with the legendary producer that is Jonathan Sothcott  (which is a tale in itself). The rest as they say, is history.

Now, the point of all this is that like all writers, when I set out to create something, be it a book or a screenplay, it gets to a point where it takes on a life of its own. Up to now, I had always believed that there was only so much I could do after that point had been reached but this is clearly not the case at all.

Because as I have recently discovered, the key to success is moaning. And thankfully, it’s something that I’m not only exceedingly good at but which I also enjoy with a passion.

Happy days!

 

The one fact all authors should know about eBook marketing.

life, work, money, sex, military, football, marriage, kids, writing, ebooks, author, marketing, blogging, Writing is, by its very nature, an odd profession. After all, if you strip it back to basics it involves spending most of your time on your own making up stories.

That said, it’s also a pretty cool way of earning a living not least because I get to spend most of my time on my own making up stories.

Now obviously I am not the only person to see this as a positive attraction because there are seemingly many people out there who wish to follow in my footsteps and fair play to them I say. Indeed, in these ePublishing times, it’s never been easier to make your work available to an eager public.

The problem of course, is that writing a book is only half the story. Or even, as many would have you believe, barely a fifth of the story. Because once you’ve written your book, movie or play, you have to sell it. Yes, that’s right, as a self-published author, everything falls on your shoulders and that includes the role of salesperson.

Personally, I love this side of the job because it provides me with the perfect excuse to piss about on the internet and whatever I am doing seems to work because I am, apparently, doing OK. I could possibly be doing better but I have no way of knowing that for sure because I’d much rather be writing, watching TV or riding my motorbike than writing ‘guest blogs’ or taking part in blog tours (whatever they are) which are both apparently obligatory for authors who want to sell eBooks. Or at least it is according to the so-called experts.

This leads me nicely onto the point of this blog because yesterday I read an article about writers marketing their work which left me not far short of incensed. It wasn’t simply the subject matter which was actually about screenwriters putting their screenplays for sale on Amazon (although if you need me to tell you why that’s a bad idea you deserve everything that could possibly befall you) it was the bit at the end about the author of said article. This bit in fact: (I have deleted her name because I refuse to give her any publicity)

XXXXXX XXXXXX is an author and screenwriter. She is the author of “Publish Your Screenplay on Kindle.” She plans to publish several of her screenplays on Kindle before year’s end.

So, she’s written a book and an article telling us to do something which she hasn’t actually done herself… yet. Do you really need me to tell you what I think of that?

The sad thing is that there are thousands of people like this who are making money off the back of the writing community by selling experience that they do not actually have and indeed, there are plenty of so-called ‘professional authors’ who actually derive most of their income from talking about the subject of being an er… professional author as opposed to earning money from actually selling books. Or to put it another way, frauds.

This is especially true of the subject of eBook marketing because take it from someone who actually knows, the truth is that whilst the web is awash with articles telling you how to do it, there is actually no magic formula. More often than not, what decides if an eBook is going to sell or not is good old fashioned luck.

Yes, of course there are things you can do to help get the stars if not aligned at least visible and these range from exploiting social networking to writing ranting blogs but the bottom line is that the fundamentals of eBook marketing are exactly the same as they are for traditional publishing. For an aBook by a relatively unknown author to be a success it comes down to the same old thing; right book, right time, right reader, etc, etc.

And that my friend is the secret. You can have it for free.

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football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritanceDougie Brimson is an author and screenwriter. Thirteen of his fifteen books are available in electronic format including The Crew (which was the most downloaded football title of 2012 and has held the #1 slot on its Amazon and iTunes chart for almost 18 straight months) and his latest comedy, Wings of a Sparrow.

His screen writing credits include the multi-award winning feature Green Street and the forthcoming adaptation of his own novel, Top Dog.

Why we will never see an end to racism in the UK.

racism, john terry, bigot, football, soccer, serbia, sex, scum, Kick racism out of footballThe other evening, whilst taking part in a late-night radio debate on the disgraceful scenes in Serbia, I was asked if I thought we would ever see an end to racism in the UK. My answer was an instant and resounding no. I then added that my thinking was based on the simple fact that we had never had a free and open debate on the issues of racism, immigration and multiculturalism in our country and more importantly, would never be allowed to have one.

When asked why not, I made the point that in my opinion it was because the powers that be were afraid of the answers the vast majority of the population would provide. I was cut off almost instantly. As proof of my point, that’s as conclusive as it gets.

Now let me quote something to you. It’s lengthy, but bare with it.

Racism and multiculturalism have become two of the key issues affecting the way we live but by allowing the anti-racist and politically driven lobby groups to occupy the moral high ground, we [as a society] have become terrified of openly questioning anything relating to race for fear that we will be labelled as racist. A fear that is especially prevalent amongst the white Anglo-Saxon and Christian communities who lest we forget, actually form the majority of the population.

As a consequence, they [the liberal-left and the anti-racist groups] have been allowed to get away with things that they really should not be allowed to get away with. We may laugh at the stupidity of banning piggy banks or replacing the seven dwarves with the seven gnomes but in their own way, each act of petty political correctness drives the wedge between the various ethnic groups ever deeper.

More importantly, by suppressing a much needed and long overdue debate about the impact these issues have on us all, we as a nation are clearly storing up huge problems. If only because ignorance breeds fear and fear breeds resentment which could, potentially, play right into the hands of extreme political groups. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that the implications of that would stretch far wider than the turnstile or the playing field.

However, racism is an issue which not only should be talked about it is one which we must talk about. Dialogue is after all, the only way we, as a society will ever understand things and we have to do that if we are ever to be rid of this most shameful of scourges. That will only happen when we are brave enough to allow everyone to have their say and more importantly, listen to what is being said. Tragically, even though we live in a supposedly free society, I cannot ever see that happening. Indeed, there is something to be said for the idea that if Enoch Powell achieved one thing with his infamous ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, it was to suppress forever any chance of anyone having a free and open debate about either immigration or race in Britain.

Ironically, the area of society that has done more than any other to combat racism in Britain is football. In recent weeks I have witnessed racist abuse being hurled by blacks, whites and Asians in shops, pubs and even at a motorway service station yet I can count on three fingers the number of racist incidents I have encountered inside a stadium in this country since I began writing in 1996 and two of those have been at non-league games. And I’m not alone. Even Thierry Henry has been quoted as saying that he has not heard any racist abuse inside a stadium since he came to play in this country yet still we routinely hear football being slaughtered. Why? Surely the fact that on the rare occasions an incident of football related racial abuse takes place here in England it is roundly and swiftly condemned by all parties is proof of how serious this issue has been taken. Similarly, the fury with which we react to abuse targeted at English players abroad must indicate how far we have come as well as how far others lag behind.

I’m not saying that we should sit on our laurels, but we shouldn’t be so self critical either. As fans, we should be proud that for the most part, the only colour we care about is the colour of the shirt and we should celebrate the fact that people come from all over the world to play the game here free of the abuse and intimidation seen all too often in Spain, Italy, Germany and most of Eastern Europe. We should also be thrilled that so many black players represent us at international level but equally, we should enjoy a smug smile of satisfaction that these days we don’t even really notice. All we actually see is eleven proud Englishmen and that in itself says everything to me.

That’s an extract from Kicking Off which I wrote in 2004 and to me, it’s sadly still as relevant now as it was back then. However, if there is a silver lining to the horrific events in Serbia this week it has been to highlight just how far we as a nation have come in the drive to defeat racism and as I wrote in the piece, no section of society has fought more valiantly than football. Although let’s be honest, as the John Terry affair has proven, whilst the fans continue to do their bit there is much to be said for the idea that football’s administration needs to up its game not least with an ounce to two of consistency.

But there is still much work to be done and the great game can’t do everything, nor should it even try. For sure as we saw only too clearly this summer, sport can be a fantastic unifying force but if we are ever to see a resolution to the cancer of racism in our nation and legitimately sit upon the moral high ground where we so richly deserve to be, it can only happen if we, as individuals, can freely and honestly discuss all of the issues associated with it.

The last I heard, this is a free country. So why can’t we?

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The Art of Fart – still a bargain!

Just a quick note to let you know that Amazon have now price matched most of my titles with iTunes so that the bulk, including The Art of Fart, are now just 99p. The only exceptions are The Crew which is free and Top Dog and Billy’s Log which will set you back £1.99.

So if you’re missing a book, now is as good a time as any!

Why now more than ever, we must all show pride in the Poppy.

poppy appeal 2012This blog was written two years ago. Sadly, in light of recent events involving allegations made that some of our major supermarkets and motorway service station operators have banned veterans from selling poppy’s on their premises, it is more relevant now than it was when I wrote it. The fact that I have to even think that let alone write it is a shameful reflection of what is being allowed to go on in this once great country. 

I am, it is fair to say, something of a patriot. Indeed, I am as proud an Englishman as it is possible to be and certainly follow that old mantra, English first, British second and European never.

To some of course, this will immediately label me as some kind of racist xenophobe but to be blunt, I don’t care. I’m too old, too set in my ways and have been through far too many mills to give a shit about what anyone else might think of me and as such, have neither the inclination, desire nor as far as I’m concerned, need to justify myself to anyone else. Take me as I am, or don’t take me at all. Simple as that.

I write the above for one very simple reason. You see as I wrote in my last blog, I have passed the point where I’m going to pull my punches and if something gets me fired up, then I’m going after it with all guns blazing and write what I actually think. This is one of those times.

In little under a month, it will be Remembrance Sunday and like the vast majority of the nation, I’ll be taking the time to pay my respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. In actual fact, as a veteran of the Falklands War I will once again be taking part in the parade past the Cenotaph in London as part of the South Atlantic medal contingent and am proud as punch to be doing so.

Now the build up to November 11th is always a poignant time for the British as there can barely be a family in the country who have not been touched either directly or indirectly by war either past or present. However it is especially so for those of us who have been lucky enough to serve in the military because to everyone who has done time in uniform the fallen and the injured were, are and always will be our comrades. There but for the grace of god and all that.

That’s also why the poppy has such a special significance for us. For the mere sight of a person wearing one indicates their support not only those who have served and given, but for those who continue to serve. Just as importantly of course, buying a poppy puts money into the amazing charities that support those suffering as a result of injury. Be it physical or mental.

Equally, it is the reason why we get so angry when we see stories about poppy sellers being harassed in the street or of groups planning to burn poppies as some kind of protest. For the poppy isn’t a flag or any kind of political or religious symbol and it most certainly is not any kind of celebration of war, it is a symbol of gratitude. Indeed, if you are anti-war (as most right-thinking people are) then the white poppy is an excellent way of signifying that.

But whilst I readily accept that anyone has the right not to wear a poppy if they so wish -the notion of free speech being at the very heart of our democracy which so many fought and gave to defend- what I do not and will not accept is the defacing or abuse of something which signifies so much. Because to do so is at best disrespectful, at worst incitement. It’s certainly provocative.

The irony is of course, that the scum who do such things can only do so thanks to the freedom those who made the ultimate sacrifice have provided for them. Yet of course they are too stupid to understand that. Instead, they simply take the piss and hide behind the law and the freedom which they seemingly so despise  And worst of all, we allow them to do it. In some cases, they are even protected by the police whilst committing this most cowardly of acts because in this free country of ours, they have the ‘right’ to protest.

Well fuck that. What about the rights of the old boys who want to sell poppies as a way of paying homage to their former colleagues but who are spat at or abused when they try to do so? Why are they not being afforded the same kind of protection as they seek to go about their lawful business as the bastards who support those who seek to harm us are seemingly handed on a daily basis?

More importantly, what about the rights of the lads whose bodies still lie strewn and unburied across the Somme or Ypres? Or the poor souls who never made it off the beaches of Normandy? What about those who lie at the bottom of the South Atlantic or who lost their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan? They aren’t just names on a memorial, they are heroes. And this country owes them a damn sight more than simply standing by and watching as the vermin who we have somehow allowed to infest our society disrespect their memory.

For that is what they are doing, disrespecting. Yet at the same time they have the gall to demand that ‘we’ respect their opinions, their beliefs, their way of life whilst showing none toward ours in return. The hypocrisy is staggering and if it wasn’t so tragic, it would laughable. But not only must it stop, it must be stopped fast.

Now I absolutely acknowledge that what we are talking about is a tiny minority of a minority but I seem to remember another minority stepping out of line not so long ago and the law of the land going all out to stop them and exercise control over pretty much everything they did. Something it succeeded with great efficiency and stunningly quickly. Yes, I know it might be trite to bring football into this but as a precedent, the war waged against hooliganism isn’t actually a bad one. So in the same way as laws were rushed through to seize passports from suspected offenders and impose banning orders on those convicted of football related offences, given that this problem seems to be increasing each year why haven’t laws been rushed through to afford the poppy -and for that matter, our flag- the status of a national sacred symbol with the result that if you desecrate it, you can expect the full force of the law to come down hard upon you?

I for one would wholeheartedly support such a law and with the poppy such a source of pride and importance to so many and the flag now more a symbol of unity than hate thanks to it’s long overdue rescue from the right-wing, I can’t imagine many people would be against it. So why not?

After all, we can’t make people wear the poppy and nor should we even try. We can’t even make people respect it. But we should certainly not sit back and let anyone disrespect what it means. For to do so dishonours the memory of those who made this great nation what it is.

However, until such time as those who are supposed to reflect the opinions of the majority see sense, let me put on record one simple fact. Burn a poppy or abuse a veteran trying to sell them in my presence, you’re fucked.

That’s a fact.

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The Crew continues it’s quite astonishing run at #1 on the free sports book download charts and is now well into it’s second year at the top! It’s also been receiving some great reviews which is always heartening (and if you haven’t left one, why not?).

If you use iTunes to download books, you might be interested to know that with the release of Wings of a Sparrow approaching, we’ve slashed the prices of all my books with most, including The Art of Fart now just 99p! The Crew and Everywhere We Go are still free so just click on the following link to download all or any! iTunes

Hopefully Amazon will follow suit fairly quickly as they operate a price matching policy however, you can let them know about the lower price by clicking on the relevant link on the page of the relevant book.

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Finally… my next movie project goes public! Soldier, Soldier.

I am delighted and not a little relieved to finally release brief details of my next movie project.

Provisionally entitled ‘Solider, Soldier’ it centres on the rehabilitation of a British Muslim soldier who loses both legs as well as his best mate in an IED incident in Afghanistan and touches on all kinds of issues ranging from family loyalties to the problems faced by Muslims fighting in the British Army.

The script has been written by myself with additional writing by my old friend Clare Perry and is being produced by Rakha Singh who made ‘The Killing of John Lennon’. The awesome David Blair who made the brilliant ‘Accused’ series for the BBC will direct.

We are currently looking at casting but former Eastenders star Ace Bhatti will play the lead role and since the plan is to film in Bradford, we have been lucky enough to secure an agreement from local MP George Galloway to play a cameo role.

Financing is well under way and I will of course release more details as and when I can.

Exciting times!

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The Crew. Still #1

BTW, continued thanks to all of you who are keeping The Crew at number 1 in both the Amazon and iTunes football charts. It’s held the top slot for pretty much 8 solid months now and that’s entirely thanks to you lot.

Work on the third book in the trilogy will commence as soon as Wings of a Sparrow is complete and that won’t be long now. Honest guv.