Tag Archives: opinion

EURO 2012 and the folly of racism. Oh, and a little moan……

Common perception of the locals!
What we can expect from the locals according to the media.

So, EURO 2012 is upon us and as is routine, it has been preceded as much by talk of potential off-field activities as it has by those we hope for on the pitch.

I don’t even know where to start with any of this because as most of you who will be reading this will know, it has, in the main, been bullshit. Indeed, I’ve had journalists from both Ukraine and Poland contact me almost apoplectic with rage about some of the things being said or inferred about their country these last few weeks.

It’s not like we don’t know that both countries have hooligan and racist elements (as does every country on the planet) or that when tournaments come around, everyone from hotel owners to prostitutes will be seeking to make a pound or two. That’s certainly not unique to Eastern Europe as anyone in Eastern London will know!

Yet the level of scaremongering here has been appalling and worst of all was Sol Campbells assertion that black and Asian fans risk coming home in body bags.

Now we all know Sol is a sensitive soul and that he’s never been adverse to kicking up a public fuss when fans have had the temerity to call him a nasty name or two but this was a step too far for all kinds of reasons (although I suspect it had more to do with his desire for a post-playing career on the anti-racism/media gravy train which continues to chug along quite nicely).

The problem of course, is that when it comes to issues such as racism (and football fans generally) the media and the anti-racist groups can say pretty much what they like sure in the knowledge that they will remain unchallenged.  Fear has always been both the anti-racists biggest ally and their most powerful weapon for the tag of racist is one which is easily applied and difficult if not impossible to remove. Ask Ron Atkinson.

Yes, of course, racism is abhorrent in every way shape or form but having come so far in the battle to defeat the racists, the time has surely come when the population of this multi-cultural country ours of has the right to actually begin to question some of the things being said but we will only ever be able to do that once we can actually speak up free of fear. Because until we can do that, then we run the risk of allowing things to be said which are not only counter-productive but potentially extremely dangerous and that is what we have here.

The reaction to the Panorama documentary in both Poland and Ukraine has been one of extreme irritation but more importantly, those minority groups seeking to make names for themselves will now be well aware that the game and the world will be watching and if they want to make a statement, they already have everyone’s attention.

Thanks for that Sol.

*

The Crew. A thriller by Dougie Brimson
The Crew. hooligan thriller

Since I released my backlist online at the back end of last year, The Crew has spent an unbroken 30 weeks at #1 on the Amazon UK sports (free) chart, the Amazon US soccer chart and the iTunes soccer (free) chart whilst Top Dog has been in the top 3 (mostly at #1) on the Amazon UK (paid) football chart. In addition, all of my other titles are selling well on Amazon and if you look at the iTunes soccer charts, most weeks the top 50 will feature at least 7 (usually 8) of mine.

Now, whatever way you look at it, that is not too shabby a record and to say that I am both delighted and humbled by the fact that it is mine gives new meaning to the word understatement.

Somehow, writing has become my career and that is entirely down to my readers who for some reason seem to like my books so not for the first time I would like to thank everyone who has ever read or downloaded any of them and let you all know that I value every single one of you.

However, there is a specific reason why I mention this here and it is not simply to be boastful. You see the other day I was accused by a very well known sportsman of being a ‘wannabe’ writer.

Now I will admit that I had been winding this bloke up a little and it became fairly obvious from the childish way he began using his ‘award-winning’ autobiography as some kind of weapon that he was unused to hearing anything other than sycophancy. But whilst I laughed it (and him) off, it did get me thinking about the literary establishment in general and more specifically, my position within it.

Many years ago, I wrote that those of us who wrote in the so-called ‘hoolie-lit’ genre were not just regarded by the literary establishment as being at the bottom of the literary ladder, but as the rubber bungs on the feet. Sad to say that nothing has changed.

I, for example, despite the fact that I’ve been pumping out work for 16 odd years and have sold a fair amount of books, have yet to receive a single invite to any literary festival or event. I’ve never even been asked to attend the British Sports Book Awards despite the fact that I would guess I outsell pretty much every author there.

Now, it would be foolish to say this doesn’t irritate me at times because it does. However, what I find more irritating is that with increasing numbers of the ‘hoolie-lit’ books being put online and making their way into the charts, by refusing to acknowledge those of us who write about football culture it infers that those people who buy our books don’t really matter. That is incredibly disrespectful.

The only reason publishing exists at all is because people like to read be it in book or electronic form and it doesn’t matter if they’re reading Dan Brown or Chris Brown, every single person who spends money on a book is as important as the last. Lose sight of that and the whole thing will come crashing down.

Personally, I have always kept my focus on my readers but then again, I’ve always tried to understand my market and aimed to give it what it wants. Therefore chart positions have always been more important than invitations because it means books are selling and readers are  happy.

Sadly, not everyone seems to think like that preferring instead to court only the opinions of those who can get their names into the papers. On which note, the ‘award-winning’ autobiography by the household name I mentioned previously isn’t even in the top 100 sports books and can currently be found in a remaindered store somewhere near you.

Which kind of says it all.

Chelsea FC – The Samantha Brick of football.

chelsea cheating
Same old Chelsea, cheating again.

Not for the first time, the great game finds itself dragged into the news for all the wrong reasons.

Thanks to Ashley Young and his shameful theatrics for Manchester United we have calls for retrospective punishments for cheating –something I have always championed and fresh cries for goal line technology in the wake of yet another goal that never was. This time for Chelsea at Wembley.

Now both of these cases have two specific things in common. The first is that they resulted in goals and the second is that they involved cheating. In the Young case, it was disgustingly obvious but at Wembley it was less overt but equally shameful.

Post game and to their credit, both Frank Lampard and John Terry did the decent thing and admitted that the ball hadn’t crossed the line for the second goal. A fact that was proven by the numerous angles provided by the media. Yet if they knew that, why did they not point it out to the referee at the time? Indeed if Terry knew it wasn’t a goal, why was he actually seen claiming it?

Yes, I know there is an element of ‘win at all costs’ and like many football fans, I’d happily take a dodgy goal be it for Watford or England. But these were two former England captains remember and so is it that unreasonable to expect that they would have some concept of the idea of fair play? Especially since like all footballers they would have been instrumental in the establishment of the FA’s laughable ‘Respect’ initiative.

Of course having given voice to this ideal on Twitter I have now been accused of having an anti-Chelsea agenda which is exactly what happened

shove it up your arse
Enough said.

when I wrote about John Terry and the charges of racism levelled against him. Indeed, whilst I admire their spirited defence of their club and their captain I am always bemused by the reaction of Chelsea fans to anything said against them.

In many ways, the West London giants are the Samantha Brick of the football world. They have long considered themselves to be a cut-above the rest and always believed that not only are we all jealous of them because of their former status as the ‘glamour’ club but that these days we should all love them because of their achievements. However, what they have never understood is that it’s their very arrogance which is the reason so many people dislike them.

Liverpool are another club in danger of following the same path. Their refusal to play on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster is understandable in many ways but the petulant way in which both the club and the fans have acted in recent weeks has been uncomfortable to observe. Not least because if they insist on marking the anniversary of the death of 96 lost souls in this manner, why not the death of the 39 at Heysel? Were they any less worthy?

Equally, does this infer that the deaths as a result of the Munich air crash or the Bradford fire were any less important because those clubs do not refuse to play on the anniversary of those tragedies?

Let’s be honest here, football is in desperate need of a bit of positive PR at the moment and to have a top flight player actually playing fair during a show-piece game at Wembley could well have been it.

It certainly wouldn’t have done either Chelsea or John Terry any harm either. Who knows, maybe those of us who follow other clubs might actually have begun to start liking them again.

My next book Wings of a Sparrow is coming along nicely with a planned ebook release early in June 2012. Full details can be found on the official Dougie Brimson website. Just click on the link.

The Crew. A thriller by Dougie Brimson
The Crew.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read it yet, why not download The Crew. It’s been at #1 in the Amazon soccer charts for over 6 months now and is totally free so what do you have to lose?

And finally, could I respectfully ask everyone who has read a book and enjoyed it to take a few moments and post a review on either Amazon or iTunes? They really are important and are a great way to let us authors know that we’re doing an OK job! Or as someone else put it recently, a fabulous way to say thanks!

Samantha Brick – A male perspective on a very public bitchfest

I love me. End of.
I love me. And quite right too!

Like many chaps, I have looked on bemused as the drama (or should that be saga) of the Samantha Brick story has unfolded across the media.

Now for those who do not know, Samantha Brick is an average looking woman who wrote a piece in The Mail telling the world that she thought she was beautiful and that she received all kinds of compliments and attention from men who clearly agreed. As a consequence, other women not only felt threatened by her beauty but they were often less than friendly. If you haven’t read it, the initial Samantha Brick article can be found here and speaking as a bloke it’s worth a perusal for one particular reason. I’ll get to that later.

Whatever the truth of her claims regarding blokes walking up and paying for cabs or buying coffees etc, (and I don’t know, nor really care) what is fascinating about this story is the reaction from the sisterhood of women because to say she attracted a negative response is an understatement. In fact vitriol doesn’t come close whilst even hate could be judged ‘abuse-light’. Both in the media and on social networking sites women went for her with a ferocity the like of which I haven’t seen since my days living amongst the legendary hunting females of South Wales! The notorious Valley Commando’s.

Amongst other things she was accused of being self-centred, having a mirror made of beer goggles and being seriously deluded. It was to be fair, quite funny primarily because it did kind of prove her point! However, looking at it objectively as I am want to do, there was one simple reason for this bitch-fest and that is that she had broken the golden rule of womanhood; she had admitted that she is happy with her looks. Or to look at it another way, the female way, she’d become arrogant.

Oh yes, women spend their lives trying to feel great about themselves and read countless magazines and books packed to the gunnels with information on how to try and achieve it. Indeed, it’s the fundamental ideal which underpins the entire chick-lit genre! But for a woman to actually come out and say that she feels fabulous and that men adore her….. well, that’s not on. Especially when she’s only average looking.

And that is the fundamental reason for this jealousy –and that’s what it boils down to- because it’s not her looks but her confidence, her self-belief even. If she’s that secure in her appearance, why aren’t I? If random men pay her attention, why don’t I get it?

A female brick.
A female brick.

I, of course, made this point frequently and was shot down for my trouble. I wasn’t the only one either. When she was interviewed by Ruth and Eamonn Holmes on ITV’s This Morning, Ruthie was almost struggling to control her fury whilst poor Eamonn was clearly fearful of saying anything which might result in retribution from his angry wife later on. Fair play to Ms Brick though, she gave as good as she got in pretty much every interview she gave.

In the following days, Samantha Brick wrote more articles about her life and provided more explanation for her self-confidence. She lives in France where men are more attentive and has a loving husband who adores her. But most importantly she also has a father who told her from a very early age that she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

Now other than providing me with a great deal of amusement as I’ve watched (and heard!) the wrath of women unfold and leaving aside the fact that as a career maker, Samantha Brick’s original article was as fantastic a pitch as I’ve ever seen, for me as a male this last sentence is the one which struck a chord. Because speaking as a proud dad, my two daughters are the most beautiful girls/women I’ve ever seen and every father I know thinks the same thing. And quite right too.

And the more we tell them, the more we hope that they believe it because I never wanted my girls to grow up feeling anything other than fantastic about themselves and I’m proud to say that they don’t.

Writing in her autobiography Dawn French makes great play of the fact that her father told her every day that she was beautiful and Gwyneth Paltrow says the same thing. Both took it as gospel because it came from their dads and it shaped their lives which is exactly what it should do. Yet neither of those attracted any condemnation when they put those words into the public domain because they are famous. Yet Samantha Brick isn’t or wasn’t and so she is an easy target.

Yet rather than have a pop at Samantha Brick, shouldn’t we all be giving a hearty pat on the back to her father because whilst his daughter might be lacking in the humility department, in terms of instilling confidence he did a fantastic job with her.

And sadly, there are an awful lot of dads and indeed mothers who could learn a huge lesson from him.

The Crew. A thriller by Dougie Brimson
Still #1

Could I once again say a very humble thank you to everyone who has kept my books so high up in the various online charts. The Crew and Top Dog have been at the top of the Amazon football download charts for over 6 months now which is some achievement so thanks to you guys for downloading them.

A new book is on the way and this will almost certainly be followed by the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy!

More news and details on my website which you can visit via this link!

Has football finally reached its financial tipping point?

player greed, the death of football
Geed; not so great after all.

As a lifelong football fan and a passionate supporter of fans rights, I am often asked to become involved in campaigns. These can involve huge protests about clubs being taken to the edge of financial ruin by useless owners through to charity evenings being run by fans to raise money for sick children.

No matter what they are, as long as I have a degree of sympathy with the cause then I will do whatever I can do to help be that by going along to show solidarity or by donating books to raffle off as prizes. And I do that because I am one of those who believe that no matter where they watch their football, fans are one huge community. Yes of course there are exceptions (we all have rivals after all!) but at the end of the day, it’s the game that really matters and if a club are in trouble or something is being done which is fundamentally wrong, we should all pull together to help. I actually wrote a book about this very thing –Rebellion- which examined protests at clubs ranging from Manchester City to former FA Cup winners Wimbledon FC.

The reason I mention this is that this very week we have seen two clubs go into administration here in the UK including one of the legendary names of world football. No, not Pompey, but Glasgow Rangers.

Now I won’t go into my usual rantings about the way football is run but there is a sad inevitability in the fact that as with all such things, the only real hope for ultimate salvation will lie with the fans. Only recently we saw little Darlington put out a call for help when closure seemed just days away and to the credit of all those who follow the game, even though they are a relatively little club that call was heard and a small fortune raised (including one single donation of £25,000) to keep them going for a while in the hope that some way of saving them will be found. And to be fair, if history is anything to go by it probably will be. Sadly too many clubs have been in this position before including such giants as Chelsea, Leeds, Wolves and even the great Manchester United.

To me, things like this actually show football fans at their very best. We get a lot of bad press thanks to the hooligan and racist elements but we should never forget that they form only a tiny minority and the vast majority love the game and everything to do it. Long may that continue.

However, whilst news of a club in crisis being saved by the community of football fans always fills me with pride, it also fills me with a sense of anger. Anger which is directed at one specific group.

It would be reasonable to assume that the target of my fury would be those who administer the game. After all, their consistent failure to impose any kind of strict control over how the individual clubs manage their finances is ultimately responsible for things like this happening. But it is not. No, my anger is directed at players.

I do not for one second begrudge anyone earning a decent living out of the game because if I could, I would. I don’t like the amounts involved when we get into the top flight, that’s true, but I certainly don’t blame them taking it. That’s market forces after all.

What I do have a problem with is players taking that money and never putting any of it back into the game. Yes of course there are exceptions to

The bank of football, for some.
The bank of football, for some.

that but in the main, players take a fortune from out of the pockets of fans and then when trouble hits a club, we are the ones they expect to dip into our pockets to keep that the club alive. That’s not right. Not right at all.

Here in England there are 92 professional and hundreds of part-time clubs and together they form what is in the opinion of many, the greatest league structure in world football. If one of those clubs goes under, especially in the current financial climate, it can only destabilise the rest and as Rangers have shown, no one is immune from the danger of financial collapse especially when the tax man comes calling. Indeed, there are a number of Premiership teams in serious trouble at the moment and one can only imagine the consequences should one of those go out of business.

So with so much at stake is it really too much to expect that the people who take the largest slice out of the game contribute a small percentage of their huge wage to help keep a struggling club alive?

Or is that responsibility always going to fall on that group of people who in far too many cases these days are already struggling to afford the cost of a ticket to walk through a turnstile?

 

The Crew. A thriller by Dougie Brimson
The Crew

Two quick plugs, I’m currently giving away ebooks versions two of my best-selling books (The Crew and Everywhere We Go). Further details can be found by clicking here Free Books 

Could I also thank all those who have downloaded my most recent book, The Art of Fart. If you liked it, please leave a review at the store where you obtained it from. As with all my books, they really do make a difference.

And I recently gave a short interview to the excellent It’s Round & It’s White website. Please click on the link to visit.

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!

Football’s fascists have finally gone too far.

football fans complaining about money and something else.
Bastard football fans daring to complain.

I will be the first to admit that I am something of a grumpy bastard and that I spend my days moaning about subjects ranging from the failure of HM Tax and revenue to collect money from the travelling community (why don’t they?) to people who illegally use disabled parking spaces (who should have their cars crushed on the spot). However, today I read something which hasn’t just irritated me, it has left me incensed. Yes, that’s right, incensed.

For on this very night, the 22nd of December, at White Hart Lane where Spurs will be playing near neighbours Chelsea, stewards will be wearing cameras in an effort to catch on film anyone in the crowd who uses foul, abusive or racist language.

Stewards….. wearing cameras….. Sorry, but I had to type that twice because I still don’t actually believe it.

To be honest, I don’t even know where to begin with this. The sanitisation of football is something I have written about extensively over the years and yet it continues apace. Usually it has to be said, hidden or at least cloaked under the ‘Kick Racism’ banner. But whilst I will be the first to jump behind anything which deals with either racism or racist abuse as I have done at length both in books and on this very blog,  this is something else entirely.  This is little more than fascism.

Like most people, I go to football to let off steam and part of that involves shouting, singing and occasionally, indulging in that little thing we fans call banter. Now in truth, many of the things we say, sing or chant could, when taken out of context, be considered abusive but inside a football ground,  when directed at opposing fans, players or even officials, they are little more than simple words. Many of these words have basis in either history or fact but they are above all, instrumental in the creation of atmosphere. And atmosphere is, above all, what makes going to football one of the great joys of life.

But now, all of that is in grave danger of being taken away and make no mistake, that’s exactly where this is heading. The question is, why?

The fascists’ case is that no one should be subjected to any kind of abuse which might be deemed unacceptable but this is bollocks. This is about context and in the case of football, the game is the context. Enter a ground and you should know exactly what you are walking into, play it professionally and you must know what you are likely to experience at some point. If you don’t like that, then either don’t go or watch the sanitised version on television or don’t seek to enter the profession in the first place! It really is that simple. Because you have no right to walk into a ground or run out onto a pitch and then cry foul because you don’t like certain aspects of what you find. The individual will never, should never and can never be bigger than the game.

Yes, of course there are things which are said, shouted or sung inside grounds which are unacceptable but shock horror, terraces aren’t politically correct places and nor should they be! Furthermore, history has proven time and time again that in the vast majority of cases, the line of acceptability is drawn firmly by the people sitting within earshot which is exactly how it should be anyway! It is not, nor should ever be, drawn by someone sitting in a control room viewing CCTV footage a few days later.

Equally, what will be deemed unacceptable? The girls in Hertfordshire do have tits and fanny’s but me singing about them doesn’t make me sexist just as the age old songs about Mickey Quinn eating all the pies hardly make me fatist.

But to some politically correct driven jobsworth, that might be exactly what they decide and what then? Bollockings? Bannings? Prosecution? Or will we all have to attend some kind of seminar outlining the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of football fandom.

It’s a joke. But of course, it isn’t. Because it isn’t funny at all. It’s potentially very real and it could well have major consequences for the game in this country.

The irony is that this is happening on the very same week that someone in the UK has finally seen sense and decided that a return safe standing might actually be a good idea. Of course it isn’t in England because that would mean relinquishing some of the control the game exerts over us but fair play to the Scottish game (and that’s something I never thought I’d say! ) for finally having the balls to give it a try.

Yet what is the driving force behind the safe standing campaign? Exactly, the demise of atmosphere inside our grounds! Which is of course exactly what this farce at Tottenham is going to erode even further.

Well I have news for those who ‘run’ the game. Start filming people and prosecuting them for using foul language inside a ground and you will be fucked. Because enough is enough.

This isn’t about the game or the police, this is about the clubs themselves. OUR clubs. They’ve hiked prices to ridiculous levels, make us sit not stand, shift games around without a moment’s thought for the travelling fan and each week seem to find new ways to part us from our increasingly hard earned. And now, as we have seen at Blackburn and numerous other clubs, not only are they starting to cry foul when we actually have the nerve to voice our opinions about what is or is not going on at OUR clubs, thanks to Tottenham there is a very real sign that they are seemingly moving toward the total control of what we can and cannot say inside grounds. OUR grounds. What next? Song sheets? Big screens being used as auto-cues? Fans being asked to sing adverts for sponsors?

You may laugh, but I wouldn’t put anything past anyone involved with the financial side of football because none of them have the remotest idea of what it is (or was) like to stand on a terrace and be spontaneous. That’s why what’s going on at Spurs must be stopped from spreading and if the FSA and those who claim to be supportive of the rights of fans had anything about them, they would already be screaming blue bloody murder.

So where are they?

Note: My new book, The Art of Fart is now available to download from Amazon at £1.53 (or $2.68 in the US). Please visit www.theartoffart.net for further details. Make a stunning Xmas present…… especially post-sprouts!!!
My ebook. A fucking bargain!
The Art of Fart – What a bargain!

Why this Thatcher fan will never vote Tory again.

Thatcher, greatest leader ever! And sexy too!
Come back Maggie. We need you!

It’s not often I write about politics but today, I have to make an exception.

Quite why this compulsion has hit at this particular time is unclear as the decision I’ve made and the reasons for it were made months ago but hey, my subconscious has decided that today is the day and so here we go.

I have never made any secret of the fact I have always voted Tory and am a huge fan of Lady Thatcher. My father led me along this road from an early age but it was reinforced when I joined the RAF (the military are traditionally right-wing) and set in stone when I headed south as part of the South Atlantic Task Force in 1982.

If anything, my anti-left resolve was hardened when Blair and his loathsome cronies came to power and set about their pre-planned destruction of the social (and as we later learned, economic) fabric of our country. A crime which is far more serious than the ongoing obsession with a so-called illegal war in Iraq yet which will similarly and tragically never result in any kind of justice being imposed upon those responsible.

Have no doubt, I was thrilled when Brown was ejected from number 10 and chuffed to bits that my vote contributed to his demise. I had high hopes for Cameron and even though he was forced to bring the Lib-Dems in, I was convinced that anything would be better than what we had been enduring. Yet as the weeks unfolded and the true extent of the damage Labour had inflicted on the country began to be exposed, I began to become concerned. And the more I heard, the more my unease grew.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually support many of the things the coalition are doing and whole heartedly back the cuts the government are making because at the end of the day, that’s my money being wasted by the NHS, the Civil Service and even the MOD (don’t get me started on that!). I also applaud the stance being taken over law and order and the growing calls to repeal elements of the human rights act. However, I certainly don’t support some of the cuts made to defence especially the destruction of the Harrier fleet which will surely rank as one of the most crazed military decisions of all time.

But there have been two particular issues which have enraged me since Dave came to power and combined, they have ensured that I will never vote Tory again.

The first is the issue of Europe. I’m English first, British second and European never. Whilst I understand the concept of a European state and accept that there are certain elements of it which are of huge benefit to the nation, there are other aspects which disgust me, others which terrify me. To me, it’s clear that the EU is a club which needs us far more than we need it and that alone is reason enough to leave. So where is my referendum? The one Dave repeatedly promised.

As each day passes, the clamour from the nation calls for it and whilst we are finally seeing noises that it might actually happen at some point, the stumbling block remains the construction of the actual question. But it shouldn’t, it should be a simple in or out question. If the people say we stay in, then fine. But if they say we want out, then it’s a total out.

Either way, it will be a democratic decision and those who voted contrary to the outcome will have to deal with it just as the country will have to deal with the consequences whatever they might be. But the fact remains, we want our say and we should be given it. The fact that we haven’t is a disgrace.

The second issue is the one which not only leaves me baffled, but furious. Indeed, even as I’m sitting here I can start to feel my blood boiling.

Britain is a wealthy country, of that there is little doubt. Yet at the moment we have, thanks to Blair and co’s mismanagement of our finances, a huge debt. As a consequence, the government have been forced to make massive cuts to public spending the majority of which, as I’ve already said, I support.

However, given the fact that we are in such a mess, why the bloody hell are we spending £8.1 billion a year on overseas aid (and that will increase to £11.4 billion in 2014. That’s a 34 per cent rise!)?

Cameron argues that it is essential to spend this money to maintain our status on the world stage and more importantly, that we have a moral duty to help those living what must be awful lives. But whilst I think the former is bollocks and do have some sympathy with the latter, surely as an elected government you also have an even greater moral duty to ensure that you don’t have kids in your own country who live in abject poverty or elderly men and women who, having spent the bulk of their lives paying into the system, are being forced to choose between eating and heating because their pensions are so low.

I wouldn’t mind so much if it made any sense. Call me old fashioned, but does a nation which spends £20 billion a year on defence and £1.25 billion

Tory party giving away our money. Not sexy politics David!
Overseas aid.... the sad reality?

space programme really need £280 million from the British taxpayer? Would it not be better all round if someone were to give them a quick call and tell them to get their priorities right?

And did it not strike anyone at the Department for International Development as odd that many senior officials in Sierra Leone went on a huge spending spree shortly after they handed them a cheque for £1.2 million to aid ‘peacekeeping’ efforts?

I know I’m being flippant but sadly, those are two examples from a very long list of bizarre decisions and whilst the sums involved might not make much difference to the old age pension or child benefit, they would make a huge difference to organisations such as Childline, Cancer Research, Macmillan, the RNLI and even the RSPCA who as it stands, are essential charities almost wholly dependent on public donation. And I for one, would far rather my taxes went in that direction rather than risk them ending up in some African despots Swiss bank account or to countries who wish us nothing but harm in return.

Quite why Cameron and company cannot see that escapes me and that, in essence, is why I will never vote Tory again. Not because they are crap politicians or even dodgy characters, but because after years of Labour destruction and miss-management, they have failed to adhere to the fundamental rule of political life. That as a politician you are elected by the people to serve the people.

To do that, you have to listen to and act upon the will of the majority and the sad fact is that at the moment, at least when it comes to these two issues, they’re certainly not listening to me and plenty like me.

So why on earth should they get my support.

Why Arsenal have snatched a major victory from the jaws of the drubbing monster!

Gutted Gooners (possibly gay).

Like many people, I was somewhat stunned by the hammering Manchester United dealt out to Arsenal at the weekend. It was the stuff of legends and will no doubt haunt the Gunners and their fans for decades. Certainly every time they travel to Old Trafford!

However, whilst I was impressed by the antics of Rooney and Young on the day, the response from Arsenal FC has left me positively reeling with admiration.

I refer of course, to the apology offered to the North London faithful who travelled to Manchester only to endure the most torrid of afternoons and the accompanying promise to cover their expenses for a forthcoming away game.

For years now I have ranted on about the way the game has systematically taken the piss out of the very people who fund it and here, finally, we see an example of a major Premiership club recognising that they owe a debt to the fans who follow them. It doesn’t matter that in financial terms it’ll cost Arsenal less than a weeks wages for a second string player, it’s the thought that counts. Or more specifically, it’s the fact that someone high up in the club had the sense, if not decency, to have that thought at all!

There’s a word for that, and it’s one almost every other club in the land would do well to learn; class. And I tell you what, I doubt many Gooners will forget it in a hurry.

I Blame Telly. Really, I do!

It fucking doesn't!

In all the soul searching and hand wringing that has gone on since the riots that engulfed London, Birmingham and Manchester barely two weeks ago, little has been mentioned about what I regard as one of the major factors to have impacted on the fabric of British society over the last 50 or so years.

For whilst much has been made of the role computer games have played in the desensitisation of violence and the fact that music videos are increasingly portraying women as little more than sexual objects (and where are the feminists in that debate? Gyrating to Rihanna along with their 8 year old daughters perhaps?) little has been made of the most powerful medium of all, television.

Now I love TV. It is an amazing thing and the people who work within it produce some incredible programming. Yet as a weapon, it is unrivalled. For it has the potential to shape public opinion in a way no other medium can and only a fool would deny that it has certainly been wielded plenty of times over the years and for all kinds of reasons.  Some good, most bad.

Never is this more graphically illustrated than in the soaps. Soaps are different to all other forms of entertainment in that they are infinite. Characters come, evolve and go, storylines unfold and die but the essence remains constant. This is of course, one of the great attractions and for many viewers that essence becomes so familiar that it takes on a sense of reality. A place it stops being the product of some writers imagination and is instead somewhere where the characters change from jobbing actors into into real people who actually experience real things. It’s Truman in all but name.

The arguement often put forward in defence of this type of programming is that it’s art mirroring life which would be fine if they showed lives, communities and problems which were actually ‘normal’ in the sense that yours and my lives are normal but they do not. Instead they paint a warped and necessarily condensed picture of a drama. One where hatred, shouting, violence, criminality and dysfunctional families are everyday normality.

And if you’re 7 and your evenings involve sitting in front of some screaming banshee supposedly living in a Manchester suburb and your only datum point is a home life which isn’t that far removed from what you’re seeing on screen, it simply becomes an extension of reality. When that is so destructive (and so repetitive) it can only have a negative impact because if anti-social behaviour is something you witness on a daily basis and it is rarely if ever condemned, how can you hope to learn that it is unacceptable in the real ‘real’ world? 

TV... do your job!

Therefore, those who develop these storylines must be made aware that they too have a responsibility to society to portray life is it actually is as opposed to the twisted vision they trot out for us. Because whilst I’m sure everyone involved with Eastenders is happy to work there, I doubt any of them would actually want to live there in real life.

And that has to be the defining question all producers and commissioners need to ask themselves before they put their signature on that line to sign off that script. Because if it’s not good enough for them, why on earth should it be good enough for us?

National Service – I Think Not!

Sargeant Major bastard
Predictably, the screams for a return to national service have begun to appear on the front pages as journalists up and down the land seek desperately to fill their pages with a new angle on the riots story. Quite why they do this escapes me because as a tax-payer, I’m more then happy to see page after page of mug-shots of the guilty finally getting their just deserts. That can carry on for weeks thanks.
 
However, the fact of the matter is that editors do not see it as I do and so that old chestnut ‘a spell in the Army would sort them out’ has been dragged out and placed in the public consciousness as if it’s a good idea. Well as someone who served 18 years in the Military and is a veteran of theFalklandsconflict and Gulf War one, I speak with some authority when I say that it isn’t. A return to conscription would be a disaster for all kinds of reasons, the main one being that the military do not want it. And given that they are currently fighting two wars and keeping the peace in various places across the globe whilst all the time facing scathing cuts of their own, I think that not only should we listen to what they have to say but in fact to even suggest it is to take the piss.

That said, I do think that there is a very strong case to be made for some kind of compulsory service for anyone between 18 and 20 who is not in full time education. And by education I mean learning something useful such as medicine, teaching, engineering or science as opposed to the impact of 15th Century Peruvian art or the history of Hollyoaks.

My own view is that a scheme based on the military model but dedicated not to the use of weapons or even defence (teaching the use of weapons to individuals who you are trying to stop using weapons is slightly barking even for the British!) but to service in and to the country as a whole would be perfect.

Through such a scheme, not only would this so-called ’lost’ generation be provided with paid employment and be taught a trade, it would also learn the core values of British life generally, many of which are failing to be taught in schools or by parents (or parent) too many of whom seem to regard Jeremy Kyle with more reverence than their local coppers. Most importantly of all, they would discover that everything we do as individuals has a consequence for someone else. Or as it is better known, a conscience.

But equally, working with others would instil a sense of self-worth and that is something which does seem to be lacking in many of those dragged before the courts so admirably by the police this week.

The problem of course is that the adoption of such a system would involve a major sea-change in pretty much every aspect of British life and it would certainly not be popular with everyone under 18 which is why it will never happen. Because that age group also happens to be the next generation of voters and the party who proposes it would be committing political suicide.

And no matter how much hand-wringing and political gesturing we hear from10 Downing Streetor the House of Commons, the simple truth is that most politicians are too afraid of being kicked out of power to risk doing anything which might cost them a vote or two.

Which is exactly how we’ve ended up in this situation anyway.