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.
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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
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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!
All of my books are available via Amazon by clicking here.
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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With Top Dog heading for release on Monday, the PR machine has been running at full speed and one question which has repeatedly cropped up is how I found the process of adapting my own novel for the screen.
Rather than go into it all here, I’ll point you in the direction of an article I wrote for PureMovies.com which not only goes into it in some depth, but also talks about how the movie actually came about.
Thankfully, the screenings thus far have gone really well and everyone seems more than happy which is all I could hope for. But now comes the really important bit and that’s the public reaction so if you fancy a look and haven’t ordered a copy, you can do so via Amazon. Either that or simply head down to your local DVD/Blu-ray retailer early next week.
All being well, the reissued paperback will be not far behind as copies have already rolled off the presses. That can also be ordered online via Amazon or if you can’t wait and fancy the eBook version, that can be downloaded right here right now for the princely sum of £1.99p! It’s also available via iBooks of course.
Away from Top Dog, work on We Still Kill The Old Way is almost complete with the final scenes being shot in Spain early next week. I visited the set a couple of times and have to say that there was a real buzz amongst everyone that something really special is coming together.
It’s a great script, the crew are fabulous and it’s being helmed by an excellent director in Sacha Bennett but the really exciting thing about this project is the amazing cast we have working on it. A cast which includes legendary names such as Ian Ogilvy, James Cosmo, Chris Ellison, Steven Berkoff and Lysette Anthony as well as a raft of brilliant young actors led by Danny-Boy Hatchard and Danni Dyer.
If that lot doesn’t get your juices flowing, nothing will. You’re going to have to wait for a few months yet but believe me, it will be worth it.
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From the issue of safe standing to the Justice for the 96 campaign, there has been much talk recently of the lack of supporter involvement in football. More specifically, discussions have focussed on the undeniable fact that the gap between the game and the fans is wider than it has ever been. The consequence being that the game continues to treat us more like a necessary evil rather than it’s greatest asset.
If you’ve read any of my books, you will know that I have very strong views on this aspect of the game and so, with the European Elections rapidly approaching, I thought it might be a good idea to publish an extract from my book, Barmy Army which outlines an idea which continues to excite people.
The fact it was first published 16 years ago and is as relevant now as it has ever been is a shameful reflection on the sport we follow.
Extract from Barmy Army (2000)
The difficulty here is how you involve the rank-and- file fans in the first place. For in the current climate, most football supporters feel a greater sense of alienation than ever before. Very few of us have any kind of coherent representation at our clubs and none of us have a voice at either the FA or within government, despite the fact that the game is totally reliant on us for its very survival.
We cannot rely on either the clubs or the FA to change their position with regard to customer relations of their own accord, and therefore pressure must be put on them to do so. We have two very powerful weapons at our disposal, but one of them we will never use and the other, for the moment at least, we cannot.
The first thing we could do is to hit the clubs where it hurts and boycott games. We could do that, but we never will. Like all addicts, we need our fix and to miss out on that, even on a point of principle, doesn’t bear thinking about. The alternative to boycotting the games altogether is to boycott the catering or even to get ourselves organised and follow the lead of the various Ultra groups in Italy, which we discussed earlier. That would send a clear message to the clubs that we were unhappy. If it went on for long enough, they might even be forced into action to resolve it – might being the operative word. For football is a stubborn beast and even if a club’s supporters were able to organise themselves, there is no guarantee that the directors would listen. Indeed, judging by some of the examples we have seen in recent years, at the first sign of supporter solidarity the average board simply digs in and does nothing.
So if we are to force action, then it must be done in a way which the clubs are unable to ignore. And in this country, every football fan over the age of 18 has something which those in authority have to take notice of. It’s called a vote.
A few years ago, I suggested the formation of a single issue political lobby group called the Football Party. Initially, the suggestion was that people would stand for their local council to give fans a say in issues that directly affected their local club. It was an approach that proved astonishingly successful in 1990 when supporters of Charlton Athletic FC formed The Valley Party in an ultimately successful campaign to get the club back to their spiritual home.
Such was the response, it quickly became apparent that many supporters believed that this local angle was an idea worth developing. But many people wrote to me and said we had to think big and aim higher. The more I thought about that, the more plausible the whole thing sounded. What finally convinced me that the concept of a national Football Party was a sound one was when I realised that the average local election generates a turnout of less that 40 per cent and that while over 12 million people voted for the Tories in the 1992 general election, approximately 25 million watched the England v Germany semi-final in Italia ’90. What this proved to me once and for all was that if you went canvassing around every pub, club, house and factory, and told the electorate that you were standing to give them a say within the football world, there’d undoubtedly be good support, and as soon as the established parties saw there were votes in it, their policies and actions would change so as to give football a kick up the arse.
As a result, I sat down and wrote out a manifesto, one aimed not just at local councils but also at general and European elections. It included four main points. First, the formation of an independent, credible and properly funded body to represent the views and opinions of football supporters from every level of the game; second, the appointment of supporters’ representatives to the committees of both the Football Association and the Football Trust; third, the appointment of an elected supporters’ representative to the board of every professional football club; and finally, the appointment of an ombudsman or regulator to oversee the activities of the Football Association, the Football Trust, the Premier League and its members, the Football League and its members and supporters’ groups.
In August 1998, when it was first released to the press and various supporters’ groups, the response was amazing. Yet sadly, the people I wanted to react, the football authorities and the government, paid it little heed. Undaunted, I carried on. More support poured in and the manifesto began to appear all over the Internet. I had enquiries about it from all over Europe and as far afield as Australia. It had certainly captured the imagination of supporters. However, the campaign eventually began to take its toll on me, both in terms of time and finances and I was forced to put it onto the back burner. But the idea is still very much alive and the very fact that so many people continue to respond to it proves that it is sound. It sure would rock the boat were it ever to come off.
The mere idea that football fans throughout the country could even consider voting for a fat git like me proves how desperate they are to be involved in the game they love. Every supporter has a role to play in the future of the game, and that doesn’t just apply to the hooligan issue but to every single aspect of football. Every major political party recognises that fact – which is, after all, why Tony Blair does so many stupid photo-calls – but still they do nothing about it. That is not good enough. If football will not provide us with a properly funded platform through which we can be heard and demand answers, then the government must make sure they do. And if they don’t, that’s when we should use our vote, because that is the one thing all politicians are truly scared of. All we need to do is to get organised; but how we actually do that is anyone’s guess.
Yet it has to happen. For only by wielding the immense power we as football fans have at our disposal will we ever see an end to the problems facing football, from the hooliganism issue and the asset-stripping to the financial incompetence, greed and sheer hypocrisy of those who supposedly run our game on our behalf. For too long now they have got away with shafting us. They have placed us in danger, sold our very game from under our feet and in far too many cases to note here, have walked away with bank accounts bursting at the seams with money that came out of our pockets. It’s not right and the time has come to do something about it.
Away from the issue of protests, I’m thrilled to tell you that the movie adaptation of my novel Top Dog won four awards at the recent British Independent Film Festival including best feature.
The DVD is available from Monday (26th May) via all decent retailers and to satisfy demand from people who don’t ‘do’ kindles, we are also reissuing the novel in print. That will hit the shelves within the next few weeks.
On top of that, work continues apace on We Still Kill The Old Way and indeed, we are actually in our last week of filming. If you’ve been following progress via Twitter and the like, you will know that it really is shaping up to be something special but I’ll tell you more about that another time.
All being well, the next project to hit the screens will be Wings of a Sparrow but as with all such things, it is dependent on finance. If you’ve read the book, you will hopefully know why I am so passionate about this and if you haven’t, why on earth not? It’s awesome!
green street, top dog, football, soccer, politics, screenwriting, film, author, writing, hooliganism, England, world cup, hillsborough, twitter, social media, facebook,
It’s not often I feel smug, but I certainly do this morning because last night, at the British Independent Film Festival in London’s Leicester Square, Top Dog, the movie I adapted from my own novel, took the best feature award.
Not only that, but Leo Gregory won best actor, Ricci Harnett won best supporting actor and in the face of stiff competition which included her Top Dog co-star, Dannielle Brent, Lorraine Stanley took home the best supporting actress award.
That’s not a bad haul by any standards and with everyone being so complimentary about the film, the inevitable nerves that have dogged me for weeks have been well and truly beaten into submission. As a result, I can start to enjoy being involved in the promotional side of things which is actually the bit I’ve been looking forward to most, primarily because I’ve never actually had any before!
Top Dog is set for release at the end of this month with the reissued novel not far behind and if you haven’t seen the trailer yet, click here to take a peek!
As if that wasn’t enough for one old hack to handle, last week I spent a day on the set of We Still Kill The Old Way and it’s clear that something very special is coming together down Wimbledon way. Hearing actors bring your words to life is always an amazing experience but when they are people you grew up watching on TV, it is beyond surreal.
I can’t say too much about the project at the moment but we have two more weeks of filming yet so I’ll post further news (and maybe the odd picture!) as it unfolds.
Finally, I’ve had numerous people ask me if there will be a film version of Wings of a Sparrow at some point and all I can say is that I bloody hope so!
I’ve already written a script and it’s currently being read by various individuals with the power to say yes or no so please send positive vibes and if you’ve read the novel, please spread the word via Facebook, twitter or by leaving a review somewhere such as Amazon, iBooks or Goodreads. The more of a buzz I can generate about the project, the more chance there is that the screen version will get green lit.
The DVD of Top Dog can be pre-ordered by clicking on the cover picture to the left of this screen whilst the novel can be ordered here.
If you’d prefer a kindle version, then you can have that right now by clicking here. Links to all of my other books (and there are a few!) can be found on that same page.
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