Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Christmas* Message

Well, been a while since I did one of these.

So if you aren't interested in a personal message from me to folk interested in what I do, swipe away now.

I wanted to take the time to reflect and give thanks to all those who have supported me in 2014, bar none the most incredible, bizarre and crazy year of my life. If I had to pick a word to sum it up it would be "relentless". From the second in January that I decided to try and make a film of The Asterisk Years right until now, doing this blog after a seven hour round trip to Nairn with man flu to do a screening, my life has been in the control of others. In fact it sums up supporting Celtic as well. It's ups and downs, twists and turns, brightly coloured and never boring. I'ver been on a total of around 40 planes, 20 trains and buses daily and bounced all over the place in pursuit of this story.

They say with a book that it's your baby until you finish it then it becomes the baby of anyone who buys it. That's true but the difference with a film is that you don't sit over the shoulder of the person reading it after they have bought it whereas at each screening I am there, watching the reactions and listening to the comments. Something you don't even consider when making it. No night or crowd is ever the same. I do a Q&A after each screening and you can never second guess the questions. They range from in depth analysis of the content to whether parts of certain people's anatomy still work. Often folk, strangely if you ask me, just want to ask questions about Celtic and, whilst I am always happy to talk Celtic, occasionally it seems to be forgotten that I don't actually make the decisions at Celtic.  The surreal aspect isn't lost on me either. Like when a guy in Nairn on Friday said to me after the Q&A "Now you know how John Paul Taylor feels" at exactly the same time I got a text question from John Paul Taylor.

There's also the fact that some people are dialled into the information whilst others are witnessing it for the first time. So a balance is needed, probably like a comedian telling a joke for the 50th time. Along with a thick skin. You find out a lot about people when you effectively expose yourself to the world. There were a few people in my life who liked to pat me on the head when I tried anything and then when something actually became a huge success, they never mentioned it and barely speak to me now. Others never spoke to me for years and now are all over me. A couple are even nice to my face but wish nothing but misery on me behind my back. You go through a few stages of different emotions because of this, anger, sadness, frustration, disappointment, before the love and support of others washes all that away like a power hose on a Mini Metro.

Of course these situations were a million miles away when I had the idea of the film. In all honesty if I knew how much work and money was required, I'd probably have never even attempted it. I had to ask lots of people to trust me, I had to devote virtually all my spare time to the project and effectively hand my life over to others for them to comment on, judge and feel like they had the right to constantly criticise me. To give an insight, it took nine months for the entire process of making and editing the film to be complete and despite the hugely successful screenings thus far which have ensured almost 1000 people have seen the film already, I estimate I won't break even on the film until post-America. Throughout that I was constantly attacked online, I was threatened and mocked, I was dehumanised by dafties with Twitter accounts, I was constantly told the film would never get made and was constantly given advice by people who, at most, have maybe been to a cinema once.

Not that I am complaining mind you.

I went into this with my eyes open and a clear focus to get the story out there and keep maximising the impact. That's worked so far and my own barometer is when you can silence a Friday night pub crowd with the content of the film.

One of things I've always been about is never doing anything the way folk expect it to be done. It's the old Punk in me (Nigel his name is) about never adhering to the rules and betting the way everyone else thinks is wrong. The Asterisk Years doesn't need the acceptance of anyone, not least the media. 2014 has woken me up to how many people still hang on every word of the mainstream media and need them to say something before they will believe it. I see my job, in terms of the type of citizen journalism I do, as providing an alternative. That's all.  I am not in the business of needing the approval of anyone or needing anyone to tell me what to think about something. Even with the film, I lay out the evidence and Jah makes it entertaining, but it's still you, the viewer, who has to make your own mind up on what to think about it.

The ability to critically think should never be underestimated and it is what is required to make stuff like this succeed. That's the one thing I ask of a viewer.

I feel like I speak about the abuse I get too much. I've already briefly mentioned it here and it does add weight to the abusers but it actually has become a part of my life now. Even on Wednesday there, I was in Frankie and Benny's in Ocean Terminal in Leith and was just casting a widening eye over the starters when a woman screamed in my face that that I was a "Taig scumbag" and that I will be shot soon.

The Meatballs were decent at least.

The flip side of all this has been the support. The amount of people who have stepped forward for me and offered all sorts of things is something I will never get used to. I know those who go on a career path think that it is their natural calling for folk to love them but I've never been on a career path, far less thought folk should love me, stuff just seems to happen to me. Well, actually, sometimes I can make it happen too and The Asterisk Years is definitely one of those things. For me personally, confidence is a huge thing. Anyone brought up on a council estate knows how much confidence is knocked out of you from the minute you can understand words. You only realise this when you get older though and meet people who have been conditioned all their life to feel entitled. So I tried to constantly remind folk throughout this project that a lot of it was about opportunities that are denied for people like us and that we could give opportunities to people through this project. That's why I am immensely proud that this project has given folk the platform to showcase their talent, it's ensured kids can go and see Celtic, hungry people will be fed and homeless people sheltered.

With that being said, it would be nothing and none of that would be possible without the support of the people in the streets, on social media, who stop me at games or on pubs, or on trains and even planes (My claim to fame is being recognised by the passport guy in Dublin, hopefully for the work) Trying to build something that has credibility and fights back at the PR charade that has engulfed Scottish football for a generation.

It does require a lot of hard work though. Take this week again, fresh from the pre-meal outburst, I went home and man flu hit me like a wet kipper across the face and the prospect of a trip to Nairn on Friday feeling like I wanted to crawl back inside the womb wasn't exactly inspiring.

But you have to go.

It's not easy going to different places and meeting new people if you are constantly working on building your confidence and sometimes you feel like Danny Fucking La Rue in a "The show must go on darling" kind of way as one weekend merges into another.

And the reward comes from the people you meet, new friendships you make and new groups that you enlighten with the information (I can say that last part because that's been the main reaction everywhere). My firm belief is that most people are good. You may put out an opinion on Twitter that some people will go berserk about instantly. That's never really the reaction in a group of people when you are face to face with them.

There are different sections to the Celtic support, those who attach themselves to a CSC or specific message board or who just have a particular opinion about who we are. I don't bracket myself with any of them and am delighted to have met folk from every part of the Celtic support even since the premiere in November.

One thing I have to mention, because others are now aware of them, are the stalkers. I have three who never, ever leave me alone. I've had to block one out of everything I am on and I do because his messages got so sinister that I was half expecting to wake up in Misery.

I am sort a "what you see is what you get" type of guy, often to my detriment, because if you ask me a stupid question you'll get a stupid answer, similarly if you try to noise me up, I will noise you up right back. It's something I've tried to curb but I don't come from a place where you nod like a daft cunt when someone is trying to get one over on you.

A flawless moral guardian is something I will never be.

The Asterisk Years was never about me. What I tried to do is make the transition from the sort of cult fanzine style stuff I did(and a lot of folk love) into the investigative stuff it became. So there was a fair bit of me in the book, less so in the audio book and barely any in the film. The next book has none of me at all. With that being said, I had the story so I had to tell it and that's the way we made it in terms of the film.

No apologies for that.

No apologies also for anything that has been done to progress the project through the last 18 months.

Sincere and heartfelt thanks though to everyone who has supported the project and continues to do so. Particularly those who follow me on Twitter, are in Paul Larkin Books on Facebook or joined the mailing list at

You are the foundation upon which everything has been built.

With just one more date to go for the film this year (and the fact that it is completely sold out) it's time for a bit reflection, a bit relaxation and to get a first draft of the next book done.

Until then, thank you and thank you again, those who stuck by me, I hope now you're glad you did.

Merry Christmas and a Champion New Year.


*Not really.

Buy The Asterisk Years: The Edinburgh Establishment versus Celtic right here:

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