Pulling a pint at the Rovers Return
I'm the author of three novels, “Out of Office” and “Fire Horses" (both published by Legend Press), my new comic novel "Kidology," and a collection of short stories and creative non-fiction, "Militant Factions." I've had dozens of major features in the Times, Sunday Times, Guardian, Independent, Mail, Express, Telegraph and many more. Email me at:
|Posted on August 4, 2018 at 7:25 PM|
"On reading that former Tottenham Hotspur legend and shampoo salesman David Ginola has become a father again at the age of 51, my first response was: “Sacré bleu!” Sleepless nights, smelly nappies, illogical tantrums – that’s middle age for you. Who’d want to bring kids into it? However, having become a parent at a relatively late age myself (isn’t all parenting relative?) I must confess that my primary feeling for David is neither sympathy nor disgust, but envy..."
|Posted on July 24, 2018 at 3:15 AM|
"Rising from a stranger’s bed I pull aside the curtain and see the low isle of Anglesey floating in the Menai Strait: a fine day to climb Snowdon, first episode in what we hope will become the Three Peak Trilogy over coming weeks as part of my daughter’s Duke of Edinburgh challenge..."
|Posted on July 8, 2018 at 6:05 AM|
"Now, I’m as much of an England fan as the next man (if the next man is Jean-Claude Juncker) but to be honest, after three solid weeks the novelty of watching matches between two nations I’ve no interest in – perhaps a sandy Sultanate versus one of those central American countries where they throw losing managers from helicopters – has started to wane.
Trouble is my wife Lynda is from Liverpool, which means she’s genetically unable to miss a single match.
When she gets home from work she throws herself down in front of the widescreen with a cold beer and starts shouting at the players (not the ref, mind – her father was a referee which means she can explain the offside rule better than Alan Shearer)..."
|Posted on July 1, 2018 at 5:25 AM|
"When a Newcastle academic called me a southerner recently I almost choked on my mushy peas. "Tripe!" I muttered. When my wife had handed me my tripe I had to resist the temptation to kick a whippet. Then I remembered it's only Northerners who are prone to sudden acts of irrational violence; as a southerner-elect I'm above such things, and resolved instead to buy a one-bed flat for half a million and stop saying "hello" to people on the street..."
Read the rest of my column in today's Sunday Express (no link - you'll have to buy it. Save Our Papers!)
|Posted on June 11, 2018 at 3:15 PM|
In order to "celebrate" (ahem) England's guaranteed success at the World Cup Finals in Russia, why not read my surreal short story, "Psycho Blitzkrieg", about hooligans on the rampage on a terrifying new drug.
Here's a sample:
"The first game takes place in a nondescript city on the shore of a great lake, its name unfamiliar, unpronounceable, lost to search engine. "City" makes the place grander than it is: just a rambling string of shacks and blocks without planning or purpose. As the bus weasels in from the parochial airport below sludge sky all the damprise apartment blocks along each side of the strafed dirt road absorb what little light has managed to penetrate this gloom - particles of light which made it through 93 million miles of harsh space only to be stymied by the reflective murk of a second-world industrial zone - and as the crew look out through brown-streak panes I sense a deflation, a sense we're on alien territory where each individual person, creature, atom wishes us and our descendents harm.
"Looks like Sheffield," jokes Kirk beside me, and everyone laughs: loud, uneasy. I know why he made the joke: an anchor of familiarity in this dead world, this otherworld, a way of making it seem familiar, as Disney or Pixar make savage creatures seem human. An anthropomorphism of buildings, almost racist in its assumptions, because Kirk and those who laugh (me included) are really saying: these people are unknowable..."
|Posted on June 4, 2018 at 6:40 AM|
"Any doubts that UK Prime Minister Theresa May doesn't have a clue what she is doing have been well and truly dispelled by her Sunday Times column earlier in May. We now know for certain that the Prime Minister doesn't know what she is doing..."
|Posted on May 28, 2018 at 7:35 PM|
"Older people have been moaning about younger people since Aristotle, but it does seem the generation gap has widened in recent decades – due partly to bewildering advances in technology, but also because the rise of the 'X Factor' follow-your-dream mantra..."
|Posted on May 21, 2018 at 1:25 PM|
"Dysfunctional relatives, dodgy paparazzi deals, B-list TV celebrity, divorce, death, and tragedy: surely Meghan Markle knew what she was getting into when she entered into union with Prince Henry Charles Albert David Mountbatten-Windsor last Saturday? It's not as if the history of the Royal Family is a closely-guarded secret, so what on earth was this clever, ambitious girl 'straight outta' Santa Monica thinking?"
|Posted on May 12, 2018 at 9:30 AM|
"No-one should be forced to move just because their circumstances have changed, but many tenants would like to downsize to escape the effects of the bedroom tax yet are unable to do so, because of draconian regulations on 'under-occupation'..."
PS Yes, I know I'm incredibly lucky, and yes, I know it's a Peabody house not a council house... thanks for pointing it out!
|Posted on May 11, 2018 at 7:15 PM|
"It's just as well there are still four years until the next (scheduled) general election here in the UK, because if one was held next Thursday you'd need to be Nostradamus to predict the outcome. The main political parties are still raking over the coals of the local elections, held at the end of April across England, in search of patterns, messages and meaning—and all will have been cheered by the results, so long as they don't scrutinize the results too closely.
Take the Labour Party. Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, who emerged from back-bench obscurity to become Leader in 2015, claim the results were a victory for his policies, personality and professionalism. Labour gained 77 councilors and retains control of 74 councils; this despite what Corbyn supporters insist is an overwhelmingly hostile press and charges of anti-Semitism which stubbornly refuse to go away..."
|Posted on May 5, 2018 at 11:15 AM|
"It sometimes feels like the island of Great Britain is floating on stormy waters, its incompetent captain powerless to prevent mutiny, drifting between a series of treacherous rocks, all of which could hole her below the waterline. Brexit, Syria, Russia, energy, Ireland, migration and crime: these and other issues threaten at any moment to capsize the whole country..."
https://gidss.com/content/report-london-britain-drifting-towards-rocks" target="_blank">READ THE REST OF MY LATEST FEATURE FOR THE GLOBAL INSTITUTE FOR DEMOCRACY AND STRATEGIC STUDIES HERE.
|Posted on April 29, 2018 at 8:20 AM|
"Liberal luvvies reacted with outrage when a journalist had the temerity to suggest that casting black actor Leo Wringer as a 17th-century English squire was misjudged. 'Was Mr Wringer cast because he is black?' he wrote. 'If so, the RSC's clunking approach to politically-correct casting has again weakened its stage product...'"
Read the rest of my provocative comment on why Hank Azaria is the true voice of Apu, Idris Elba should be the next Bond and Kathleen Turner is a transsexual we can all get behind in today's Sunday Express.
|Posted on April 27, 2018 at 9:40 AM|
I might have turned 50 a year ago, but I wasn't quite ready to admit I was an oldie. However today I can finally call myself one because my first piece, "employers who don't reply," has been published in the May 2018 issue of... The Oldie!
|Posted on March 20, 2018 at 4:45 PM|
"The suspected Novichok nerve agent attack on former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, on March 4th in the leafy town of Salisbury, England has exposed not only age-old divisions between the West and Russia but also political divisions within the UK. Moscow has flatly denied involvement in the attack, which has left Sergei and Yulia critically ill and probably condemned to a slow, lingering death, but the UK government and much of the media have, perhaps predictably, been quick to point the finger East..."
|Posted on February 21, 2018 at 6:25 AM|
"In the past week, two very different stories have highlighted our innate desire to generalise people, to raise them up as heroes, ciphers for the things we believe in, then bring them crashing down when they no longer keep to those high standards we probably don’t reach ourselves.
"There can’t be many compassionate people who haven’t been saddened by the news about Brendan Cox, husband of murdered MP Jo Cox. Whatever happened at Harvard back in 2015 – and it must have been fairly bad, even though he denies the more serious allegations – it’s depressing indeed that he has now stepped aside from two charities he set up following his wife’s ghastly murder at the hands of a disgusting, sad little fascist. Cox’s dignity and calls for restraint following his wife’s murder came when the country seemed riven with division, and probably prevented more serious unrest. Should he step aside now, because of a stupid, drunken incident?"
|Posted on February 7, 2018 at 2:10 PM|
"I’ve worked in several warehouses unloading stock and I’ve also worked in supermarkets stacking shelves. I’d have to say the latter is marginally harder. Not that there’s much in it: both are physically hard, mentally untaxing, and probably undervalued – but then, don’t we all feel undervalued at work?
"Warehouse jobs are more of a laugh. When unloading boxes that all looked the same, some were much heavier than others. If you were on the van you’d make out the heavy ones were light and vice versa. Oh, the japes we had… Best of all, there was usually an unloaded pallet you could hide behind for a nap. Whereas on the shop floor, surrounded by members of the public, with some tetchy manager in a cheap suit on your case, there were fewer opportunities for mayhem..."
https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/02/men-and-women-of-the-world-unite/" target="_blank">Read the rest of my latest Spectator blog here.
|Posted on January 23, 2018 at 11:00 AM|
"Reading Melanie Phillips in this morning’s Times made me really cross. Nothing unusual in that – except I’m cross because I agreed with every word she had to say about free speech, and the lunatic attacks on Canadian academic Jordan Peterson by activists who have the gall to call themselves progressive. Peterson, in case you didn’t know, has argued against proposals that Canada introduce new laws insisting personal pronouns be changed to ze and zir at the request of the addressee concerned.
"As someone who still thinks of himself as ‘left wing’ (Left and Right being, as I have said here before, somewhat outmoded), I hate agreeing with Melanie Phillips. Of course the route from youthful socialist to ageing conservative is a familiar one, but even aged 50 I don’t feel particularly conservative, either upper or lower case; I feel deserted. I’m in the same place I was 35 years ago, but the crowd around me has retreated to the fringes of the battlefield to shout rude names from the safety of their virtuous towers..."
|Posted on January 9, 2018 at 6:30 AM|
“A tiny British anti-Muslim party called ‘Britain First’ benefitted from worldwide publicity at the end of 2017 when President Trump retweeted three videos purporting to show examples of Islamist violence. Closer scrutiny later proved that none of the videos was quite what had been claimed, but by then the damage had been done: the group claimed Trump as a fellow traveller in the fight against ‘Islamism.’ Parties across the political spectrum lined up to attack the President for appearing to endorse the views of the controversial organisation—if ‘organisation’ isn’t too complimentary a term for this bunch of misfits, Nazis and thugs…”
|Posted on January 6, 2018 at 6:55 AM|
“It’s just a few metres from Bartholomew Court, EC1, where a young man was one of four stabbed to death over the New Year, to trendy Hoxton, famous for its cereal bars and hirsute hipsters. It would be easy to say these two worlds – those of the trendy media types lampooned by ‘Nathan Barley’ and ‘Its Grim up North London’ and the large nearby estates – are separated by an unbridgeable gulf, but it would also be inaccurate. Areas like Hoxton became popular in part because of this edginess, this picturesque urban decay, where drugs can be bought cheaply from local youths and consumed in the safety of the adjacent wine bars and gated communities.
"When I first moved to this area in 1985, much of Hoxton was like Bartholomew Court; even now there are some areas even drug-craving hipsters avoid. Over the past 30 years the area has changed almost beyond recognition, with new apartment and offices blocks, trendy eateries and poodle parlours on every corner; yet many of the old council estates remain, their long-term residents confronted daily by the inequalities and injustices of modern Britain…”
|Posted on December 12, 2017 at 9:50 AM|
“How would you feel if a gang of fabulously wealthy twenty-somethings kept appearing in your young daughter’s bedroom, telling her she’s really special but then badgering her to send messages and money? If, like my 13-year-old daughter, she’s been taken in (and not yet spat out) by the YouTube phenomenon, it’s happening right now – in a bedroom near you…”