Normally, at around 4.00 in the afternoon, my writing life will be dominated by one of two things.
If I’m in writing mode, it’ll be the sounds of Bjork in my headphones and if I’m in skiving mode it’ll be some crap TV show like Come Dine With Me or Deal or No Deal as a lounge on the sofa.
Recently however, I have discovered the delights of Simon Mayo on Radio 2 and having been listening to his excellent ‘Confessions’ slot, I have been inspired to confess something of my own. Not because I feel guilty about it and need forgiveness, but because I just feel the time is right to get it off my chest. So here goes…
In 1982, whilst a young, impressionable and innocent Corporal, I was dispatched to Ascension Island as a part of the Royal Air Force detachment involved with the South Atlantic Task Force. For those who do not know, Ascension Island is a volcanic rock in the middle of the South Atlantic. It’s hot, windy and dusty which can make things extremely uncomfortable when you’re living in tents and what with that and the huge amount of aircraft movements taking place, sleep was at a premium during the day.
More importantly, the island is home to a beautiful and very long runway which meant that it provided the perfect operational hub for the men and equipment being put together to repel the Argentinian invasion of the Falkland Islands. As a consequence, by the time I arrived, at around the same time as the first British ships heading for war, it was somewhat busy.
Now, my job will remain secret for reasons which would be obvious if you knew what they were but suffice to say, my shift pattern was 24 on, 24 off. Unfortunately, the ‘on’ portion involved my sergeant and I remaining both awake and alert which whilst fine at first, was not fine after about a week. Zombies comes close.
As a consequence, we began a rota where one would snatch sleep whilst the other remained awake rushing awake doing the work of two men. This worked well for a few days until it all went horribly wrong. Or to be more specific, I cocked it up.
It’s fair to say that being on an active and very busy airfield during time of war is extremely exciting but as you can imagine given our location, the facilities left something to be desired. And by facilities, I mean specifically, toilets.
This was fine for ‘number one’s’ but when the body placed additional demands on you (if you get my drift) you needed an actual toilet. And let’s face it, I wasn’t in the Army, I was in the RAF so our much higher standards meant that we couldn’t just ‘go’ anywhere!
Unfortunately, the toilets for us lowly airmen were about half a mile away and consisted of what are known universally as ‘long drops’. These being basically long planks of wood with holes cut in them. I will leave you to work out the rest but to say they leave a lot to be desired is an understatement. Especially at 3.00 in the morning when it is pitch black.
However, within one hundred yards of my building on the side of the aircraft pan were four chemical toilets of the sort you see at music festivals and on building sites. The problem for me was that these were specifically for officers, pilots and aircrew and we oikes had been expressly forbidden to use them under pain of disciplinary action. Indeed, so serious was this threat that they were actually surrounded by barbed wire with a small gap providing the only entrance.
As you can imagine, toilet envy became a huge factor in our lives. Something exacerbated by what I can only describe as the habit of ‘showing off’ by those eligible to use them.
Well, at some ungodly hour of the morning during one particular shift, I was, to be blunt, caught short. With the airfield reasonably quiet and my sergeant fast asleep under his desk, I took the decision that rather than wake him and endure my long walk to the long drops, I would risk it. My thinking being that not only would I be away from my desk for a shorter period but I would obtain a small victory for junior ranks everywhere by taking a dump in the officers bogs. Such victories are, after all, what the British Forces are based on.
So within minutes, I’d crept out of the building and in full SAS mode, has slunk through the darkness across the extremely crunchy volcanic ash and was sitting comfortably doing what came naturally.
Inevitably, after two or three minutes I heard footsteps approaching and it suddenly struck me that I could soon find myself in serious trouble. I was after all, disobeying a direct order. But just as importantly, so could my sergeant who was at the very moment blissfully unaware that I wasn’t actually there holding what should have been a very secure fort whilst he was fast asleep on active duty. Being one of the most serious offences in the military, had he been caught he would almost certainly have faced a court martial which could well have resulted in a prison sentence and demotion if not even dismissal from the service. We were after all, at war.
As all this ran through my brain, all I could do was sit and hope to goodness that the fast approaching officer would not even try the locked door to my cubicle (something which might well have led to him asking who was in there) but would simply enter one of the three empty cubicles thus allowing me time to escape.
It was at this point that I noticed that I had neglected to lock said door and even as I reached for it, it swung open to reveal a very senior officer silhouetted against the South Atlantic sky.
As he took a step forward, I suddenly realised that it was so dark inside that he hadn’t actually seen me sitting there and so all I could to was shout ‘BOO!’ at which point he let out a high pitched scream, turned and ran back at high speed toward the collection of portacabins which formed the operations centre.
Within seconds I was sprinting after him and made it through the gap in the barbed wire just as an alarm went off and all hell broke loose.
By the time I made it back to the safety of my building, the first of the armed patrols had arrived as rumours spread that the very real fears of an Argentine Special Forces attack on the airfield had been realised.
It was some hours before things calmed down and an investigation began into what had caused such a flap. Of course, being the closest building to said toilets, suspicions that the culprit was close to home soon centred on yours truly but my vehement denials as well as my sergeants assertions that I had not left our office at any time meant that I escaped unpunished.
A few days later, the first shots were fired down South and the incident was forgotten but it has stuck with me ever since and the time has now come to put my hands up.
Not because I almost gave a senior officer a coronary I almost gave to a senior officer (after all, he screamed like a little girl and ran away) or because numerous police and soldiers ended up sending hours scouring the locality looking for non existent invaders, but because of my sergeant.
For not only did I almost cost him a twenty year career, his pension and a spell in military prison, but he spent the next five weeks terrified of shutting his eyes whilst we were on duty in case I actually did drop him in it. Mind you, that did mean I got all the sleeping time.
So sorry Tim. I hope you’ll be pleased to know I feel much better for getting that off my chest.
My latest novel, Wings of a Sparrow is available in ebook and paperback format from either Amazon or iTunes.
And speaking of movies’, my latest We Still Kill The Old Way will be released over this coming Christmas and you can find more details of that by clicking on the link.
RAF, army, military, forces, hooligan, british film, top dog, green street, self publishing, manchester united, liverpool, sex, maggie thatcher, veteran, UKIP, tory
It’s not often I’ll blog on the subject of politics because generally speaking, I’ve no real interest in debating my personal beliefs with other people.
However, as a Falklands veteran I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I’m a fan of Lady Thatcher nor that I hate the left with a passion. Nor have I hidden the fact that whilst I always voted Tory, that changed the day they took the shameful and ill thought out decision to scrap the Harrier and replace it with… well, nothing yet.
To many of course, my love of Mrs T marks me out as some kind of raving Nazi/homophobe/racist/rapist/child molester/tax evader/bigot* (*delete as appropriate) which is fine. This is after all a democracy despite what many seem to think and so we are all entitled to opinions. However, recently something has happened which has piqued my interest. It involves, not surprisingly, the rise of UKIP as a political force.
Now I’m sure you’ve read the papers and watched the news recently so you won’t need me to tell you what’s been going on and you will also have no doubt seen that the reaction from both left and right has been predictably rabid.
Yet to me, something fundamental is going on here. For when I watch the news and see members of the public being interviewed about why they have (or intend to) tick the UKIP box on the ballot sheet, they all seem to have one thing in common and it’s a thing no one seems to be noticing; they’re almost universally either middle aged or elderly.
Of course, the lunatic left make the argument that another thing these people have in common is that they’re almost all white and therefore, must be racist. An accusation which is not only laughable, but offensive for fairly obvious reasons. Indeed, some of the things I’ve seen written about the average UKIP voter borders on hysteria. One tweeter even told me in all seriousness that she believed that UKIP was underpinned by members of the EDL, the BNP and Combat 18. Madness.
However, by being so quick to wield the racism card (always their favoured weapon of suppression) against the very people who were building this country in the days when multiculturalism was barely even a word let alone a concept, what the loons fail to realise is that they are actually reinforcing the very reason why so many British citizens are embracing what Farage & Co are saying. And every time they attack those same people for being little Englanders, out of touch, old fashioned, homophobic, Islamophobic or anything else they care to throw out, they simply hammer another nail in to their argument because the simple truth is that the silent majority are sick and tired of being on put on the defensive whilst being forced to watch their lifelong efforts being dismissed and their taxes squandered. Just as importantly, they are tired of sitting and watching whilst this once great nations history and traditions are being eroded and our inbred sense of tolerance and fair play abused.
Or to put it another way, UKIP have finally provided the platform for a long suppressed but increasingly discontented middle England to stir and cry enough is enough. And about bloody time too.
I don’t agree with everything UKIP stand for but I make no apology for the fact that I think they are a long overdue breath of fresh air to British politics and if, as seems likely, they’re going to give the established parties a kick up the arse if not a bloody nose, then they’ve got my vote.
Because if the political system in this country has been screaming out for one thing, it’s exactly that.
My comedy novel, Wings of a Sparrow seems to be creating a bit of a buzz film wise which, given that it started out as a film script, is quite exciting.
Hopefully, I’ll have some news on that very soon as well as of another project which if anything, is even more exciting as it’s very close to being greenlit.
Speaking of which, my latest movie, We Still Kill The Old Way will be released over this coming Christmas and you can find more details of that by clicking on the link.
ukip, tory, labour, liberal left, politics, conservatives, cameron, millband, farage, EU, europe, football, soccer, hooligan, gang, uk film, britain, england, election
Those who know me will be well aware that I am by nature, lazy. To me, all work is hard work and any effort, an effort.
As a consequence, when I see either my work, effort or time being wasted, I find it irritating. When I know from the outset that they are all going to be discarded and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it, I find it galling. And by galling, I mean f***ing annoying.
Sadly, that’s bog standard when it comes to screenwriting. I write a script and hand it over to someone else dripping with my sweat and blood and they then tear it apart. This is wrong, that’s wrong, more of this, less of that. It’s too long, it’s too short, we need a stronger character, do we really need a stock car racing scene, we’d never get Jennifer Anniston to do that, etc, etc, etc.
I listen to this, absorb it all, sulk for a while, admit they are right (usually) and so begin rewriting. When that’s done, I hand it over and the cycle is repeated until such time as everyone is happy or I tell them to stick it.
Whilst ultimately I accept that this process is a necessary evil if you want to get the very best you can on screen, the fact remains that for the writer it can be painful and often humiliating. Indeed, as I’ve said many times, if you can’t take criticism, don’t write and that’s never more true than when developing a script.
However, it is not the worst part of life as a screenwriter. Oh no, not by a long chalk. The worst part is the waiting.
You see I can hammer out a first draft in anywhere between three and four weeks and rewrite most things in under two. If the notes are minor, I can have the changes done in as little as an hour but certainly within 24. That’s what I do, it’s how I work.
Now I don’t think it unreasonable to expect that same level of commitment from whoever asks me to do that work but more often than not, I am disappointed. Indeed it’s not unknown for me to have to wait a week for a response to something which was apparently so urgent that I’d been asked if not told to drop everything and do it immediately. In one instance, so apparently desperate was the rewrite that I was made to feel guilty for going to watch Watford (on a Saturday!) rather than do the work although oddly, even after working through the night to deliver it, it took three days for them to get back to me.
Annoying… oh yes. Will I ever get used to it? Never. Will I end up killing? Possibly.
Recently however, even the agony of waiting for notes or feedback has lessened. Primarily because it has been replaced by the agony of waiting for something else. Decisions.
Now you would think after 18 years as a writer I’d be used to waiting for a yes or no on a project and having been along Commissioning Street many times, I thought I was. But this time it’s different. This time it’s not only big deal, but big league. And it’s not just one decision, it’s two, possibly even three. And it’s so close I can smell it.
So now, waiting isn’t about wasted time or effort and knowing I’ve got work coming back to me, it’s about potentially life changing phone calls or the abject desolation of rejection.
And if you want to know how that feels, just imagine checking your lottery numbers, realising you’ve got all of them and then not being able to find the ticket… the day before you have your driving test and just after your 16 year old daughter has told you she’s been knocked up by the local scumbag. That’s pretty close to how I’ve been feeling for the last two weeks.
To compound things, the pressure of waiting means I can’t concentrate on anything else so days which should be productive are instead wasted trawling the internet searching for obscure motorcycles, watching video’s of morons who are seemingly intent on killing themselves or pissing about on Twitter. Things which more often than not, result in my getting told off for prevaricating or feeling guilty for not actually filling any pages with text.
It’s as vicious a circle as you’d ever want to endure.
Waiting. Yes, it’s an absolute bloody delight.
I’m delighted to tell you that the audio version of Top Dog is now available to download by clicking on the picture to the left.
In other news, my next movie, We Still Kill The Old Way was shown to a selected group last week and was apparently well received. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any of it yet so I can’t really comment but I’m sure, given the quality of the cast involved, that it’ll be awesome.
More information on that can be found by clicking right here.
top dog, green street, gangs, gangsters, UK film, indie film, hooligans, danny dyer, eastenders, sothcott, martin kemp, spandau ballet, ebooks, amazon, kindle, ibooks
Ever since I have been writing, two things have been regularly thrown in my direction.
The first is that at some point all writers get writers block, the second is that a blank page is a scary thing.
I’ve written about writers block numerous times before so I won’t go over that again (however, to paraphrase it for any newbies, in essence I believe it’s a myth designed to excuse one of any number of basic failings) but the issue of the blank page is something I’ve rarely discussed. As I sit here facing a new one today, now seems as good a time as any.
Now, however unlikely it might be, all writers have to believe that somewhere deep inside us is the ability to pen a booker prize winning novel, a ‘Harry Potter’ style literary phenomenon or an Oscar winning screenplay.
The blank page signifies what is possibly the beginning of the journey toward the creation of that very book or script and like the start of any journey, there are two ways of looking at it. You can either be pessimistic or optimistic. Which one you choose, or rather which one chooses you, is wholly dependent on the type of person you are.
The pessimist of course, will suspect that it is highly likely that within a first few pages, they will realise that this new project won’t be the big break they are dreaming of and instead, even as they sit there hammering away, they are going to be accompanied by that awful sense of hope evaporating.
And as hope rolls away, it will be replaced by the standard writers fears of exposure, of failure, of making yourself look stupid and possibly worst of all, of being boring. Who on earth would want to risk any of that let alone willingly put themselves through it?
Yes, all of that and more lurks on that single A4 page or a blank screen filled with nothing but white. Having written 15 books and numerous screenplays, I can state that with authority.
Thankfully, these days I tend to be a bit more confident and far from fearing the blank page, I love it! And for one very specific reason: it signifies power. Power to create anything I want to create be it non-fiction, fiction, thriller, comedy, male, female, sex, crime, football… anything.
A blank page gives me freedom to develop characters from my own imagination and make them do whatever I want them to do be it good, bad or even evil. I can make them love, hate or even kill them off, horribly if I want. And all of that comes from nothing other than my imagination. That’s what I call power! Real power!
That, in essence, is exactly what I’m facing at the moment. For today I start work on a new novel based on a recently completed screenplay.
It’s very different from my previous novels in that it’s about the military but in many ways, that makes it even more exciting as I can call on my own experiences in uniform. However, if the novel proves half as enjoyable to write as the movie version was, it’s going to be brilliant fun and since I write primarily for me, that’s all that matters.
Blank page… don’t be frightened of it, love it. It’s everything any writer could ever want.
Wings of a Sparrow also continues to do well in both paperback and eBook formats and I’m hoping that like the movie version of Top Dog, this will also make the leap to the screen at some point very soon.
All being well, I’ll also be able to pass on news of another movie project in the very near future.
screenwriter, screenwriting, author, self-publishing, green street, top dog, british film, gangsters, the krays, hooligans, collymore, troll, trolling
When I first started out on what is laughingly called my writing career, I imagined that at some point, I would end up sitting somewhere warm doing pretty much sod all whilst my bank account was being drip fed a steady stream of royalty payments. This money would then be spent fuelling my passions for motorcycles, stock car racing and Adidas Gazelles with the remainder being wasted on expensive holidays and flash restaurants. Sadly, it has not turned out like that.
Instead, like most writers battling against the combined curses of mid-list anonymity and the explosion of electronic publishing, I find myself working long hours developing new projects whilst waiting for decisions from people who are either barely qualified to make them or are simply too terrified to. These days, saying ‘no’ is both easier and safer than saying ‘yes’ or even ‘maybe’.
Given that I am keen to eat once in a while (well, this belly doesn’t maintain itself!) what this means in real terms is that since time is one of only two tools I have for the generation of income (the other being what could jokingly be called ‘talent’) it has become an extremely valuable commodity. One which once consumed, is irreplaceable.
I mention this not in an effort to elicit any kind of sympathy but for a very specific reason. For I recently read an amazing article by a best-selling American writer called Leslie Banks in which she talked about the demands placed on a writer’s time and in particular, the value placed on that time by other people. And what she says is correct. Abso-fucking-lutely correct.
You see like most writers, I receive a steady stream of unsolicited mails from people asking for either help or advice. In the main I’ve always welcomed these and been happy to help if I can. Recently however, these mails have turned from simple questions about specific aspects of either writing or publishing into requests to critique whole manuscripts, help them find an agent and/or publisher or even come on board to help develop a project from scratch. This would be fine were there ever the offer of any money to carry out this work but this is rarely, if ever the case. Remember that, because I will return to it in a moment.
I’d also ask you to consider another point raised by the fabulous Ms Banks. For like her I rarely read anything else whilst I’m writing because I have learned from experience that if I do, I tend to adopt that authors style in my own work. But equally, whatever I’m reading sinks into my brain and on one occasion, something actually fell out of my subconscious and made it onto a page I’d written. Thankfully, I caught it whilst editing but supposing I hadn’t noticed it and it had made it into print only to be picked up by some eagle eyed reader who went on to point it out to the offended author. Can you imagine?
Indeed, with more and more people paranoid about the theft of ideas, it’s only a matter of time before a writer who only tried to help someone out is dragged into court and accused of ripping off a plot line.
Now, put all this together and you might start to understand why more and more writers are not simply reluctant to respond to requests for help but are becoming increasingly angry about them. Because when that mail drops in my inbox what it’s actually asking is “Dear Mr Brimson, can I take advantage of your 17 years worth of experience and a shed load of your time and at the same time, would you be happy to run the risk of getting sued to shit and back? Oh, and can you do it all for free?”
Not exactly the most attractive proposition and in all honesty, it’s actually quite insulting. After all, would you go to any other experienced professional and ask for their time free of charge? What do you think a lawyer would say to that? Or a therapist? What would you say if I came to you at your place of work? I rest my case.
So the bottom line is this; if you want to be a writer, then write. And if you want to be a published author or a credited screenwriter, then as you write, learn. Learn about the delights of plotting, the fineries of character arcs, the stress of editing, the nightmare of pitching, the complexities of contracts, the (occasional) thrill of PR, the gut-wrenching pain of rejection and the never-ending irritation of waiting.
But if you want to circumnavigate any of that then be prepared to put your hand in your pocket. It might cost you in the short term but it will almost certainly save you an awful lot of time.
And as Leslie Banks says only too well, time is money. My money.
My latest novel, Wings of a Sparrow is now available in both eBook and paperback format.
My next film production, We Still Kill The Old Way, will be released in December 2014.
screenwriting, author, publishing, british film, football, soccer, sport, politics, work, green street, gang, hooligan,
I am one of that lucky breed of individuals who has ended up doing a job, if you can call it that, which just happens to revolve around one of their passions. As a result of this good fortune, what I do occasionally rules my life 24/7 to the point that if I’m not working by necessity, I’m doing by choice.
Thankfully, my son has also become infected with this passion and no doubt, as the years pass by, the two of us will continue to enjoy our shared obsession not just because we’re father and son, but because…well, because we’re blokes. And as we grow older, we’ll talk about the good old days and how things were much better back … er, now, and moan about how it all went wrong. Which of course, it surely will. Because the thing of which I speak is of course, the glorious, but all too often disappointing game that is football. And if you follow football, as anyone who watched the pathetic efforts of our nations supposedly finest players in Brazil will be acutely aware, the chances are that you’re going to spend a good portion of your supporting life feeling depressed.
To be honest, I guess that’s where the main attraction lies for me. I am after all, a natural pessimist and so it stands to reason that football is my ideal sport. After all, if you go to a game expecting to be disappointed, anything else is a serious bonus!
But the other benefit the great game provides is that the pre-match pub has replaced the traditional campfire as the place where stories and legends are both told and heard. And who can deny the pure unadulterated joy which comes from hearing about someone else’s misfortune or the simple thrill of trying to work out if someone is lying through their teeth or not.
The problem of course, is that every so often, you are expected to contribute. And tragically, I have one of those footballing stories that tread the fine line between bizarre and bullshit. A story that I still have difficulty believing even though I was the central figure. In short, I once saved a penalty taken by my own team in a game that we lost. Confused? Oh, it gets worse than that. Much worse.
You see during my time in the RAF, I was the manager of our Squadron football team. A team who I have to admit, were rubbish. The sad thing was, I was also a member of the defence and as we were leaking goals at a frightening rate, I eventually got to the point where I dropped myself.
Come one particular match, against the side who were top of the table, we all turned up as normal but due to circumstances beyond their control, the opposing side turned up with only ten players. However, as they were superior to us in every aspect of their play, they were quite happy to play us with ten men, which, if nothing else, was pretty demeaning for our lot.
Of course, the inevitable happened and just before half time, in the only attack we had managed to mount during the previous forty minutes, their keeper got seriously hurt and was carried off. As a result, they were now down to nine men and it looked like the game would have to be abandoned. However, sensing at least a point for my lads, I offered to go in goal for them with the promise that I would, of course, be totally impartial!
Following various warnings from their captain and bearing in mind that we had only threatened their goal once in the first half, they reluctantly accepted my offer and I thus took my place in goal against my own team. But such was the lack of skill exhibited from my own players (this gets confusing) I had nothing to do for the rest of the half and at the break, gave my own team a rousing pep-talk designed to get them playing well enough to score a goal against me.
However, as the second-half progressed, despite their numerical superiority my own team remained pegged back in their (our) own half but the team I was keeping goal for still could not score. As the final minutes ticked away and that elusive point became ever closer to reality, a hopeful punt from our defence (and that’s our as in my own team) released our centre forward who came charging toward me followed by their defence (the team I was playing for) who clearly who had little faith in my saving their skin. As our striker entered the box with me firmly rooted to the line, they hacked him to the ground and the ref awarded a penalty.
So, to clarify: I was now standing on the goal line, facing a penalty about to be taken by a player from my own side who, were they to score, could well end up securing their (our) first win of the season, and against the top of the table side.
Their (their) whole side were now giving me dire warnings of what would happen to me if I didn’t at least make an effort to save it whilst my (my) lot were shouting at me to let it in. Meantime, I was trying to let our centre forward know that I would go to my left by using exaggerated eye movements etc, and it seemed that judging by the wry smile on his face, he had got the message. As he ran up, I dived to my left and he, thinking that I had actually been telling him to put it to that side, put his shot exactly where I ended up with the result that the ball hit me and bounced back into open play.
Such was the shock of my actually saving a penalty taken by my own side, that their (their) defenders won the ball, screamed up field and scored whilst my own team remained rooted firmly to the spot in total disbelief. The result being that I ended up on both the winning and losing sides.
Inevitably, as soon as the whistle blew, the repercussions began and eventually, after a blazing row, I resigned my position as manager and never played for the team again.
You see, I told you. Unbelievable.
My latest novel, Wings of a Sparrow, is now available in both paperback and ebook formats. Just click on the relevant link to purchase via Amazon. It’s also available via all online retailers and in good bookshops.
For details of all current, future and previous books and movie projects, please visit www.dougiebrimson.com
football, writing, sex, oral, sport, soccer, film, screenwring, anal, animals, top dog, green street, elijah wood, charlie hunnam, brimson, premier league,
So that’s that then. Another world cup done and dusted.
Thankfully, as it should be, the best team won. Talented, efficient and deadly when the chips were down, Germany were a joy to watch. Everything in fact, that England were not. Nor I fear, ever will be.
But for me, as someone who for all kinds of reasons took an age to get into the tournament, Brazil 2014 wasn’t actually about the football at all, it was about the TV coverage. Because let’s face it, it was pretty dire and ultimately, for me at least, that was entirely down to two men.
For the BBC, the name which caused my heart to sink wasn’t Phil Neville or even Robbie Savage, it was Mark Lawrenson. A man who is so far past his sell by date, he’d look out of place in an episode of Lovejoy.
Now I admit, I don’t often watch Match of the Day and when I do it’s usually recorded so I can zip through the boring bits (or as I call it, most of it) so my recent experience of ‘Lawro’ is generally limited to views of him at three times normal speed. Yet even then he’s dull, at normal speed, he’s simply painful.
I know he was a great player once but it was at a time when most of the players he talks ‘knowingly’ about weren’t even born so does he really have any relevance now? Especially with that irritating voice and his endless stream of inane drivel.
Which brings us nicely to ITV. I mean, where do you start with Adrian Childs? Personally, I didn’t. Or rather, I couldn’t.
I’m hardly best placed to talk about looks, and I’m quite fond of midlanders so I’m seemingly in a minority when I say that his accent doesn’t bother me that much. But the fact is that watching Childs is like watching a 90 minute long YouTube compilation of Russian dash cam footage. You know something bad is going to happen, you just don’t know what or when.
So my verdict on Brazil? Like the FA and our illustrious national team manager, our television broadcasters must be doing much better by the time Russia 2018 hoves into view. Although hopefully, all three teams will be altogether different by then. And by different I mean competent and entertaining.
Much like the Germans in fact.
My latest novel, Wings of a Sparrow is now available in both eBook and paperback format.
writing, author, screenwriting, greenstreet, top dog, elijah wood, brazil 2014, germany, argentina, sex. porn, BBC, ITV, Talksport, veterans, football, soccer, USA
For some reason, I seem to get asked an awful lot of questions. Most are inevitably linked to writing or football but others range from requests to be introduced to people I barely even know to enquiries about just how far I would like my head shoved up my arse. However, the other day a question arrived via Facebook which ended up causing me all sorts of angst. Not because of what it wanted to know, but because of what I replied. For in response to ‘are you Rolf Harris’s love child?’ my reply was ‘if I am, my mum has some serious questions to answer’.
Now to me, this is bog standard banter and whilst it might not exactly be in the best of tastes, it soon became apparent that a few people were pretty much disgusted by it. To them, I wasn’t being funny, I was actually belittling the subject of child abuse. A charge which to my mind, says more about them than it does about me.
However, as the PM’s poured in and I dug a little deeper into the backgrounds of those who were having a dig (as I tend to do under the ‘know your enemy’ rule), it dawned on me that there was a fundamental difference between me and the majority of the people who had got the hump. One which was reinforced by a steady stream of messages which started to arrive asking me what all the fuss was about.
For like most of the people who posted their support, I am an ex-serviceman, and the bulk of the people who were criticising me were not.
Reflecting on this later on, it struck me that this was a perfect illustration of a simple truth. One you will see as plain as day in any documentary about the armed forces. For it is a stone cold fact that one of the things which binds the military together is the ability to find humour in pretty much anything.
That isn’t just true of the forces of course (you’ll certainly find a similar sense of humour on the terraces) but what is unique to the military is that the development of a dark sense of humour is actively encouraged because it is one of the most invaluable tools an individual can have in their armoury. After all, how better to cope with extremes, be they emotional or operational, than to be able to laugh about them?
That’s not to say there aren’t boundaries because there are. But they are often very different from those you would expect to encounter in a wholly civilian environment and it’s safe to say that amongst the military the concepts of both good taste and political correctness are frequently set aside in the quest for a laugh to lighten a mood or a situation.
Indeed, when I wrote Our Boy, much of which takes place in a military hospital, I was extremely careful to get the dark humour element absolutely bang on. So much so in fact that many of the one liners in the script were actually given to me by lads who’d spent time at Headley Court recovering from injuries the like of which few of us can even begin to comprehend.
Of course when you leave the military, most people will retain that dark sense of humour and whilst on a day to day basis we are able to reign it in, when it comes to something like Facebook it’s all too easy to slip back into old ways, especially when you’re interacting with other veterans.
However, when it comes to social media where the boundaries of good taste are at best cloudy and at worst non-existent and you are actually pulling back from lines of decency as opposed to pushing forward to where you think they might be, how are you supposed to know what is and isn’t acceptable? The truth is that you can’t, all you can do is play safe. But that is surely the cowards way out. Humour is after all, supposed to push boundaries and as someone who is and will continue to be quite outspoken about the concept of political correctness, I’m certainly more than happy to stick with my own self-imposed boundaries of good taste as opposed to those which convention or the liberal left impose on me.
But the more I thought about this, the more I started to consider how far apart my personal line of decency might be from those of others I interact with via the web and so I decided to do a little experiment. Last night, whilst Germany were busy demolishing Brazil, I began posting increasingly provocative things on both twitter and Facebook to gauge the response each would get and more importantly, where it would come from.
The one which caused the most furore was ‘The last Brazilian to have that many shots fired at him was at Stockwell Tube station’ which attracted all kinds of comments ranging from ‘that’s brilliant’ to ‘you are a disgusting human being’.
Now to be fair, I did actually hesitate when posting that as even I thought it was close to the mark. I also apologised for it immediately afterwards (and did so again 15 minutes or so later. Far be it from me to be hypocritical!) however, to say it was an illuminating exercise is an understatement.
For not only did it reinforce pretty much everything I had suspected about banter and social media, it also underlined in thick black pen one very simple truth and that is that a sense of humour is as much a product of our own upbringing and environment as any other aspect of our personality.
Or to put it another way, just because you don’t personally find something funny doesn’t mean that it isn’t.
PS: If you think that was the worst joke about Brazil I heard last night, you are sadly mistaken. But even I have lines of decency I won’t cross!
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Today is the 6th of June. A date which in the history of the world, will forever hold a special significance. For it is of course, the anniversary of the D-Day landings, and I hope you don’t need me to tell you what that means.
For me, such days are memorable for all kinds of reasons. Remembering the fallen is obviously the most important but not far behind is the joy I get from seeing those glorious old men and women who, bedecked in their berets, blazers and medals, are placed firmly centre stage and looked upon with the awe, reverence and respect they so richly deserve.
Heroes is too small a word.
Now as some of you may know, I served in the military. For over 18 years in fact. And although I played a minor role in the Falklands War, went through Gulf War One and have marched past the Cenotaph with the Falklands Vets more times than I care to remember, I have never really considered myself to be a ‘proper’ veteran. At least not in the sense that I have always regarded those who are quite rightly filling our newspapers and TV screens this morning.
However, (and I won’t go into it all now but if you want to know more, click here) this last week, for the very first time in the 18 years since I last wore a uniform, I have actually started to feel like one of them. A member of that special Band of Brothers we hear talked about so often. And ironically, I have Mister Stanley Collymore to thank for that.
For as a result of the disrespect he has shown, and continues to show, to the 255 men whose boots he isn’t fit to even glance upon, he has awakened an army which has come together to gain not just respect, but justice but for our fallen comrades.
And believe me when I tell you that we will not rest until they get it. A simple truth Talksport, media organisations, elected officials and Talksport advertisers will already be acutely aware of.
Yes, I said ‘our’ and I said ‘we’. Because the truth is that I am finally not only happy, but proud to count myself amongst their number.
Tally ho chaps!
falklands, veteran, war, soldier, sailor, airman, RAF, Navy, racism, social media, twitter, Facebook, football, soccer,
Last weekend, ex-footballer and radio pundit Stan Collymore posted the tweet you can see on the left of this page.
Now aside from being factually inaccurate, it is also offensive. Not just to me as a Falklands veteran, but to a sizeable number of the veteran community, their families and a great many ‘civilians’ who support the UK’s Armed Forces. For it was tweeted on the 32nd anniversary of the sinking of both HMS Coventry and The Atlantic Conveyor together with the loss of 31 souls.
Although Mr. Collymore deleted it fairly soon afterwards, along with a number of other equally offensive if not illegal tweets, he was too late for it had already been screen grabbed and widely circulated. Many people, including The Falkland Islands government, became angry at the disrespect shown to the 255 who died during the South Atlantic conflict and began voicing that anger on twitter with many asking for an apology.
However, despite being someone who has been quite vociferous in his call for personal accountability with regard to the use of social media, ironically as a result of offence aimed at him via twitter, these requests were met with distain and even an accusation that we, as a group, were in the wrong for taking the tweet out of context.
Now I could go on, but I don’t need to. The background (and whole lot more!) to this can be found in these two blogs. I would urge you to read them both.
Now, as I type this over a week later, over 20,000 veterans and equally outraged citizens are have come together on Facebook and are waging an online war against both Mr. Collymore and his primary employer, Talksport.
I have been told that on the two occasions he has appeared on air, the station’s twitter and email feeds almost went into meltdown whilst the phone lines were blocked with angry callers. In addition, news that he had been signed to appear on BBC’s Match of the Day 2 next season resulted in the corporation being deluged with complaints to such an extent that it was forced to issue a statement that contrary to reports, Mr. Collymore had not been booked for any appearances.
Many people simply want an apology (and possibly a donation to a suitable military charity) but the majority want his removal from the airwaves altogether. But thus far, aside from threats of legal action from Mr. Collymore against all sorts of people including ironically the BBC, the silence has been deafening.
Quite what happens next will be interesting to say the least. But one thing is certain, the veteran community is coming together like never before and they are seriously pissed.
Watch this space.
If you would like to know more, you can hear Simon Weston and myself discussing the issue by clicking on this link to BBC Three Counties Radio. I am on at 2:06.00
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