Friday, April 27, 2012

Skagboys by Irvine Welsh-Review

I should confess now that I am massive Irvine Welsh fan. I've read all his stuff, loved some more than others, but he has at least three books that I have read easily 100 times or more. We have two things in common, Irvine and I, both brought up and lived same areas(three in total the same) and both share the same hairdresser (Mother Nature)

So I was delighted when Waterstones phoned me a week ahead of release to say my copy of Skagboys was ready for pick up. Set in 1984, it takes us to the 22 year old version of the characters we loved from Trainspotting. None of them are on Heroin(Skag) yet and this makes at least one (Renton) a completely different guy from Trainspotting. Whereas Sickboy, Spud and Begbie are pretty much the same.

There is the usual highly descriptive style of Welsh writing throughout and at least three genuine laugh out loud moments (One for me is Renton's description of his boss "A grasping, spiritually dead, scabby-minded cunt, the sort Thatcher loves") but overall I was disappointed.

The story is mainly the descent of Renton, Sickboy and Spud into Heroin dependancy and can make for very grim reading at times. Nothing wrong with that of course but leaves little opportunity for Welsh's stunningly good humour.

It was obvious to me that this was written when Trainspotting was and lopped off by the publisher. There is not enough incident in it to justify 548 pages and I didn't think the whole re-hab part worked at all. I came away with the impression that Irvine was asked for some Trainspotting type stuff again and re-hashed this that he had already written, something that he actually confirmed last week, but I was expecting a lot more.

My own Welsh favourites are Filth, Porno and Glue. Sadly this won't be joining them but I'll still be buying his next one.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The third eye killed them

Terence McKenna believed that magic mushrooms were left on this planet to enhance and speed up our evolution and clean our mind's eye. Ok, not the most popular theory out there but one explained in far better and far much more detail in a book I highly recommend(above)

I say I recommend it, it's not for all. For example, I don't think anyone on the insanity side of the Rangers story would like it. With it encouraging free-thinking, that's going to make them mad. You only have to look at the anger directed towards people who report the facts of the story, not the spin and bullshit that puts them on the brink of death, but the actual facts mind.

This rush to shoot the messenger is a bizarre trait, one which I really don't get. Let's face it if Phil MacGiolla Bhain was called John Smith, all the dark side would have listened to him all along, right?

Then there is Alex Thomson, an award winning journalist from a major TV Network, portrayed on a Follow Follow as a bumbling fool. Really guys, really?

Finally Matt McGlone is getting it in the neck and the irony of that can't be lost on anyone. Had Rangers had a Matt McGlone type they might not be spending all day praying for another moonbeam. They don't though.

That's the thing see, in the Tim lexicon, the Celtic third eye has 20/20 vision.

Which is a real shame for Rangers.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do you know who you are?

"I'm gonna blow my own trumpet" Shaun Ryder once sang. Now I am going to. On October 31st last year I wrote this blog

and now I feel totally vindicated. #Roonye haha.

Yet there are people out there today who, despite a Championship win, still think Neil Lennon isn't the man for the job. I've got no problem with anyone who disagrees with Neil's tactics, team selections and so on, I have myself, but see if you're seething about him confronting the Rangers season ticket holder on Sunday, do you know who you are?

I was at the game on Sunday and was absolutely seething at the end. Ray Charles could see it wasn't a penalty whilst Stevie was still Wondering how Ian Black managed to escape a red card. For those who say that Neil should have confronted Euan Norris in the tunnel, have you forgotten Ibrox already? Neil tried that, got sent to, I would say "the stand" but we know he wasn't even allowed to sit there, and then Calum Murray and Iain Brines sent in totally conflicting reports of what happened. If you didn't feel like Neil Lennon at the end of that game on Sunday, do you know who you are?

We have a leader at Celtic who does not want to "know his place, "bend at the knee" or "take it on the chin". I am thankful for that. I want passion, I want fury and I want to know the guy I entrust with my mood every weekend is going to hurt as much as I hurt when we lose. I don't want some soulless Easter Road type environment around Celtic where Pat Nevin types can claim the moral high ground whilst being rode ragged season after season by anyone who fancies it. I want to be fighting tooth and nail for everything league, cup and point.

That's what I want from my leader, I know who he is.

Do you know who you are?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Not another new book

Aye, but not for ages yet. You may have noticed me mention my latest project on Twitter and so on. It's actually something I started work on a month ago. It will be out for Christmas and may coincide with a return to the USA for me then again, you never know what is round the corner. This book will see a lot of changes from my normal stuff. Firstly the "hurried fanzine" style approach, succinctly put by @pmacgiollabhain and 100% correct description, will be replaced by a more professional approach with an Editor and Proof Reader on board. That said I'm still no sure folk need page numbers...haha

This project is the bravest I've undertaken although for me it's no big deal, others may raise eyebrows. Right now I am in the process of setting up and interviewing the people at the epicentre of the story and that has been an interesting experience, with roles reversed and all that. A few folk have asked me "is it about Rangers?" and the answer is a resounding NO. There is only one man for that book, and he's doing the book, has been named in this blog already and if you don't know who I mean, why are you reading this...

So in the next few days you may well get a wee email or DM from me asking you to be part of the book. If you're reading this, there's a fair chance you will.

I should say that although it will be more professional, the writing style will remain the same, no sanitised bullshit, just how it is. It's how I write, how I like writing and I'd rather not write at all than have to flower it all up.

Finally, there will be something around August-September, regarding the Phil O'Donnell Trust, an event in Glasgow, with a few big names and some re-heated cabbage for you all...

I should also say that after this book at Christmas, I won't be doing this type of book again for a year minimum, there will though be a novel in between that will be previewed in the new book (So I know whether folk think it looks pish or no)

Until then, stay tuned...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Beers, cheers and Book Launch

I was up at 6.30am on Saturday, with it being an early kick off at Rugby Park and the knowledge that Glasgow Central would be pandemonium, added to the fact that I was meeting Mike Boyd from Chicago who was flying in, I didn't get much sleep the night before given the importance of not sleeping in.

I got up to the bus station in Edinburgh in plenty time but we almost didn't get away as a woman asked the driver if he had time to go to the toilet, she did, but still stood for five minutes berating the driver in case he did leave her. FFS. Still we got to Buchanan Street bang on time and not long after I got a text from Mike saying he was on a bus to Glasgow Central, which I had just arrived at and already there were about 1000 people waiting on the 10.12 to Kilmarnock. We all crammed on and the journey was uneventful save for a stop at Stewarton where a lone currant bun stood on the platform opposite and was treated to a huge rendition of "The huns are going bust"

Arriving in Kilmarnock we met up with @aupaceltic @brummiebhoy @joebhoyhiggins, Jim and crew. Arrangements were made for post match and the Book Launch and we all made for Rugby Park via the odd saloon. I was on my own at the game but it didn't matter. The Celtic Family was at it's very best as a spine-tingling atmosphere made for the performance of the season in a 6-0 win that saw a few tears shed as our manager, the wonderful Neil Lennon, got his hands on the trophy that bombs and bullets denied him last season.

A sharp exit from the Moffat stand saw me up the road and catching the 14.27 from Kilmarnock. Which no one else did. I only caught it by three seconds to be fair. Texts went around, meetings were arranged, and Mike and I were in the The Admiral for around 3.45, 5pm start for Launch,  and were quickly joined by @pauloneil1874 and girlfriend Steph, then Evan appeared asking whose round it was. There was no sign of @aupaceltic and @brummiebhoy who were the main organisers and I'd probably say at this point was the only point I had any doubt in my mind that day, I'd never been in the Admiral, there didn't seem to be anyone here for the Book Launch and whilst making small talk, I looked at the clock nervously.

In a flash, all that changed. The first beaming face through the door was @joebhoyhiggins and the then the rest of the crew followed. As we all embraced @marcaddy came up and introduced himself and asked me what my plans were? I said "When folk starting showing up, will head downstairs" upon which he informed me there were around 60 people donwstairs already and the final scores weren't even in.

Holy shit.

As I went downstairs, the greeting was incredible, overwhelming in fact. More and more streamed in and as I turned there was @pmacgiollabhain standing there beaming. I only knew that morning he was going to be there and had told no one but as soon as folk were aware Phil was in the building, they were, obviously, all over him as well. A real honour for Phil to travel from Donegal I must say, very, very humbling.

The crowd kept coming, probably peaking at 150, which was about 100 more than I had predicted would be there. The Rebel MC @aupaceltic kicked things off with a very funny opening, poking plenty fun at me, which helped relax the crowd big time and then Phil took the stage. I must admit it was a bit of an out of body experience for me as when he talked it took me about five minutes to register that he was actually talking about me. He ended by asking me to write the introduction to his next book, and I'm sure you can guess what the subject is..., which is easily one of the greatest honours of my life.

After that I took the stage to talk about the book and I am incredibly appreciative that folk listened.

Then there was a raffle, prizes were a signed cue by John Higgins, an Albert Kidd signed polo shirt and some original Celtic programmes donated by @chibchenko . Sellers were @lauren_mcclos and @leeanne2912 who can take pride in the fact that their selling skills on Saturday ensured that today 12 children in the Sudan will be fed for the next five years with the money raised. Hope that makes you sleep even easier girls, you've a lot to be proud of.

A cash donation had already gone to CHAS on Thursday as my pal @kenny_millar did a splendid walk from Loch Lomond to Hampden. No mean feat given that being a Hibs supporter, it would not have been easy to find...

As for the rest of the night, it was bliss. I met lots of the Twitterarti who included @fultybhoy @thesammcleod @shoegirl81 @celticnetwork11 @krys1888 @gaffney67 @nicolamcginley1 @hobbesghirl @machrie72 @maxibhoy @teammcguire_bob @celticparanoia and countless other wonderful people whose Twitter names I can't seem to locate on my phone the noo...;-)

By the end of the Launch folk were in full party mode, The Amadans band immense, with a huddle when rangers die and then a conga out the door. I'd say it went well.

Afterwards a few of us decanted to a bar with a karaoke. It was rough and ready but good fun and I ended up giving a few licks of Forever In Blue Jeans which, even though I say so myself, brought the house down...

@krys1888 then belted out Mack The Knife, fitting given that the other recepient will be The Tommy Burns Skin Cancer Trust.

By about 10.30 Mike, Evan and I were done. It had been a long day, fuelled by the black stuff but I honestly can say I could have floated back to the hotel such was the good vibe I had. Not just from the Launch but it was easily the best celebraton I've had after a Celtic league win.

I've probably forgotten a few things, as I say the black stuff was in full flow, but I'll never forget @daveross67 and his staff, @aupaceltic and @brummiebhoy who made it all happen @iceltic for the poster, @btwcelticshow for sponsoring the Launch, and @pmacgiollabhain who made me so happy.

The next day I was up early, wished Mike farewell and headed home. The reaction online was great, and that made happy that folk enjoyed themselves. The last week has also made me think, as Phil and @kevtic did too, that for my next project, which I already know what will be, I need to keep the same writing style, but let the professionals in to edit it, that is the way ahead folks as the next book I do, similar to my last ones, will be the biggest and bravest ever, soon as you hear the title, you'll see why....

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ok to Launch

So the Book Launch is almost here. The process hasn't been easy, but with the help of Dave Ross at The Admiral and the sterling work of @aupaceltic and @brummiebhoy it has been made a lot easier. Of course this week we had to put everyone going on a list to get in(cut off Thu Apr 5th 12pm to get on it) and that is a road we never want to go down but in reality it is to ensure that the folk want to go, get in no problem.

The format of the Launch is as follows, we want everyone there for as close to 5pm as possible(We know it's not possible for some), there will be a wee settling in period for folk to get bevvy up and meet each other, then @aupaceltic will MC proceedings, I'll say a few words and then the band will take the roof off to take us out whilst we try to sell the 60 books we will have with us. If we run out, we hope you'll be good enough to buy one online.

That's basically it.

See, and I know a lot of folk still can't get their heads round this, we don't do convention. Whether it's with the books, the sort of covers we have or how we promote them, we do it our way. I say time and again that a lot of people don't like that and do constantly tell me "you should be doing this, you should be doing that" but that's the way it is.

The Book Launch, like the books, is a bit of fun. It's not be taken too seriously. We're no looking to get stocked in the Celtic shop or be invited in for tea and biscuits with Peter Lawwell. Similarly I know a Pulitzer isn't coming any time soon. We strive for a street/fanzine feel to the books with a William Burroughs/Irvine Welsh feel.

There will be mistakes, typos and errors, it goes with the gig. There are two reasons for this, one my brain works faster than my fingers and I will often miss out words. Secondly I am one man band when it comes to the writing and putting in and can get bogged down. So blame all that on me.

The bit about typos etc will be rectified from now on, mainly due to time constraints no longer being an issue and for the next book, if there are any, you can blame someone else. ha.

Finally about the Launch, the people who turn up are who will make it, if you come in to enjoy yourself, you will. There has been plenty notice of where the venue is and how to get there, please heed it...

See you on Saturday.