Sunday, September 29, 2013

Q and A in Larne Nov 29th

Just a wee a wee punt for this Q&A I am doing on November 29th in Larne* for The Asterisk Years. There will be books on sale as well and I hope to see as many Tims from the north of Ireland there as possible. I think I'll need @paddybrennan7 as security and @pr0lific as the head of PR at the very least.

The Q&A's are something I want to do as often as possible as it is important for me to get this story out where I can and when I can. So if you're in the area and fancy a bit craic, come along and here about the fuckers who tried to kill us.

And failed.

*Thanks to @gary_bhoy

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A short story

As I count down the hours, count the levels of abuse and count on your support more than ever, all in respect of The Asterisk Years release. I thought I'd drop a short story on you all that I'm sure some will say everyone already knows, others will be offended by before reading it and a few will be raging that I didn't run it all by them first.

Wait, that's The Asterisk Years again.

This a story that I did about Baseball that really has nothing to do with Baseball. I wanted to write a sort of different take on my time in New York through the eyes of someone else completely. I didn't know the main character but he is a combination of three people I know in Queens, NY.

I should say, it does have some graphic descriptions of scenes of a sexual nature but only to peak the interest of people who have got this far in the blog thinking "I don't want to read your short stories you pretentious cunt"

There are a few names in the story that you will know and the main girl character is actually based someone on Twitter whom I've never met but admire her ballsy tweets from afar.

Hope you enjoy and if you do, feel free to make a donation here:

Here is the story...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

One Scotland-But which one?

I went to the Independence march with my eldest son James yesterday in Edinburgh and I felt change in the air. It was wonderful to discuss the possibility of freedom with him and talk about the things that would matter to him (Does this mean a new flag? Will the buses be cheaper? Will I get a Scottish passport? Would we still get Match of the Day?)

I should declare an interest here, I'm someone who believes passionately in the break up of the Union, that Scotland will prosper on its own and who knows that a vote for Independence is not a vote for the SNP. (Apparently an independent Scotland means a dictatorship under Alex Salmond for some, for those who believe that my tips would be to read big papers, watch Question Time and buy Politics: A very short introduction by Kenneth Minogue)

It was fantastic to see the positivity on the march. Yeah there were the sort folk who appear at Scotland games thinking it's a non-stop audition for Braveheart but in the main it was people from all walks of life. I've been on many marches in my life and this one felt like the beginning of the last lap. As I say, that's me, I kindae fancy the mad notion of the people I vote for having a chance of running things.

Mad, I know.

It was then pretty sad to come home, after detour to Celtic Park, and see the hate being spewed, via YouTube, from people whom I believe have realised their time is up in Scottish society and only have bile to offer. To hear people singing racist songs(what were the police doing exactly?) and see them prancing about like someone had inserted a bouncy castle under their feet, gives a stark reminder of the kind of people who don't want to change, who fear change and the loss of all the old certainties (I know they have pretty much lost them all already, they just haven't grasped that yet)

Safe in my ivory tower and ready to pontificate on a blog last night, I was about to start typing only to be quickly aghast to discover that Celtic had rejected the Paddy Power sponsored Stonewall campaign of having multi-coloured laces on players boots to promote gay rights. One of the last taboos in football, I would have thought Celtic would have embraced this campaign given our track record of being a club open to all. Now, let's roll out the road bumps, I know some clown from Paddy Power mocked Billy McNeill last month on a tweet and I know a lot of the egos in the EPL refused to embrace the campaign supposedly because Paddy Power has poked fun at them in adverts.

Call me picky but if someone is highlighting the poor economic conditions of a village in Africa for Comic Relief, I really couldn't care less if they told a joke once that I didn't like. I don't think any less of a cause because Bono has used it to massage his ego and I don't feel any less sympathy for the people who died in the Twin Towers just because Arthur Numan and Barry Ferguson laid a wreathe there.

Celtic, a standard bearer against discrimination, should be rising above clowns with smartphones and sponsorship deals with Ladbrokes and Betdaq because we are bigger than that, much bigger.

I've had to look at my own life recently, health issues are giving me an uncertain time and led to lots of changes. Some of the changes, giving up drinking as example, have caused other people a lot of problems and, for a few me, giving up drinking has meant to them "giving up socialising" or maybe it just seems that way. Then again, they're not walking in my shoes. (That's a kind of authorial aside to skate round the fact that I have been guilty of exactly the same, which makes this, eh, oh, forget it)

It's hard to change anything in life these days, social media has entrenched a lot of views and closed a lot of minds.

Hopefully I opened one yesterday.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An obsessive's guide to a Champions League game

I really envy these people who appear to get up in the morning and yell "Yaaassss!!" in the mirror in relation to what lies ahead in their day. Especially when that day will end with Celtic playing in the Champions League. Not that I am not looking forward to it you understand, it's just that I look forward to it in the same way a virgin bungee jumper looks forward to that first leap.

Many people in my life have commented that I don't ever appear to enjoy Celtic games and they have a point. When it means so much, you end up spending 90 minutes in a sort of contorted suspended animation where you become about as rational as a Tory politician and go through the game in your own stages (I accept this may just be me but doubt it)

The first stage is to not concede in the first couple of minutes. The thing that gives you the edge in these games is that nagging fear in the back of your mind that you could get absolutely hammered out of sight. There's always that possibility at this level (Getting to say "at this level" a lot is one of the joys of being in the Champions League)

The anguish of potentially getting hammered is something all fans deal with, just not as much for Celtic fans.
(That anguish begins on the morning of the game for me, hence my jealousy of the mirror-shouters)

If, by some miracle you get to twenty minutes and haven't conceded, you start thinking about that period from 20-40 minutes where you analyse how your team is doing, who is playing well, who is anonymous and what the hell is this formation? It can be this time that an away team, not favoured previously, can score a goal and whilst that puts you into a different stratosphere for a good, oh, 30 seconds, you know that whilst going one up anywhere is always good you will have to deal with a heightened tension now you have something to lose and that fear that you're now playing a "Wounded animal" (Please make it a budgie with a limp)

Having got through all that and into the safe haven of half time, you sit back on your chair for the first time, notice your host has put out some nibbles and return to being a football expert again by informing all present "We are very comfortable here by the way"

Then, after listening to some grey suits say some even greyer words, they go back to the stadium and you're about to have 45 minutes of what, I imagine, is akin to being on a plane and being told that "we are going down but have called to see if Denzel Washington is available".

Players get tired around 70 minutes, we all know that, and so a raft of subs will appear as a new threat on the horizon just as you've got used to the muthafuckas your team were up against for 70 minutes and you have dismissed as just "Names".

Then there is the witching hour of football games. That period from around 80 minutes until full time where anything can happen and normally does. By this time the nibbles are long gone, fridge is empty and you just need that cunting ref to "Dae his fucking joab" and you're home free but you know it will feel longer than the 100 years war.

The other thing you know is that, despite all this, you'll be back to do it all again in two weeks.

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's about those who pay

Many will be aware that whilst there is a huge stampede for tickets for the game versus Ajax in Amsterdam in November, there is quite the opposite for the game in Milan on Wednesday. As things stand now, Celtic still have tickets left for the game in the San Siro, a remarkable fact given the demand that previous games there have caused. In regards to Amsterdam, there are approximately 14,000 booked up for the game (an estimate from Celtic based on ticket demand)

Right now, under 3000 Celtic fans will be in the San Siro on Wednesday night.

Now, I don't for one second believe that 11,000 people find the game in Amsterdam more attractive than the game in Milan (If I could go to any of them, Milan would be top of the list on account of it being first) so why are they not going this week? (I expect now that some people reading this will be saying "But it's Amsterdam, that's got more to offer than Milan!" Trust me, anything you get in Amsterdam is available in Milan)

I believe that a lot of Celtic fans were costed out of this game.

There are buses going to Milan right now that are tremendous value for money (if you can do a 52 hour round trip) and I salute all on them and all who organised them, you've proved that deals for the ordinary punters are achievable if the right amount of will is there.

Does that will exist at Celtic? Yes, but only in some.

One of the key factors here is in 2013 we are getting 2700 tickets for the Amsterdam Arena. In 2001, we got 8000. Why? Because, at the meeting of clubs before the tie, the ticket office manager offered to pay for 8000 right there and then and Ajax jumped at it.

I'm sure you can see now why I say the will is there among some.

Thousands of Celtic fans would love to be going to Milan this week but, unlike Amsterdam, it's not the easiest place to get to and folk are finding it harder and harder to spend £350 on a day trip (Just ask Harry Hynds) and something has to be done(other than being lucky on the Ryanair website) to make it affordable to the fans who already had have put in around £500 to Celtic this season and it's only September.

Ditching Thomas Cook was a step in the right direction, merely moving to another almost identical travel company was not.

I think the best thing that could happen is the people from Celtic's side that are part of the talks that come up with prices should travel on the buses to games like Milan away and pick the brains on there of the Bhoys and Ghirls who seem to be able to block book good hotels at a cost that is affordable to the average fan.

The maverick Tims will always get there and I salute anyone who has the time and wherewithal who gets everywhere Celtic play, I used to be one myself. I'd like to see those people getting a wee break from the club and European travel becoming an option for many more.

Or Ajax getting another offer they couldn't refuse.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lord Nimmo-Smith/SFA. Advantage, Bampots?

There were a few flutters of excitement on Friday as news spread that HMRC's UTT case will be heard next year. I'm not for one second setting myself up as an expert on this but as in the last 15 months I've been stalking David Murray like Carlos The Jackal stalks his next victim, I think it's important to shed some light on what it means for Minty.

Sorry to disappoint, but not very much.

Rangers are dead and so are any liabilities that would come out of this case.The key thing to remember here is that, even if they are found to be guilty, it doesn't automatically mean that what they did was deliberate fraud. 

Now we all know what we think ... but from a legal point of view it's a different story.

It just means that their EBT scheme should have involved paying tax but they didn't pay it because they thought it was a legal tax reduction scheme. Tax avoidance is perfectly legal and that's what they thought they were doing.

HMRC are, of course, desperate for a guilty verdict as they want a precedent set and the opportunity to go after another football club, a much bigger fish, in London.

The case doesn't rest on covering up, it's about the scheme itself. 

There are similar schemes around the world that are perfectly legal but what's at stake here (amongst other 
things) is whether or not Rangers were using these trusts as regular salary payments (which is not allowed).

That's why it's not a slam-dunk that they'll be found guilty. Despite an appeal being granted.

It's a big headache for the SFA if the decision is reversed though because it will effectively show that these were salary payments ... at a fraction of what the cost should have been.

That there is the clear breach of SFA rules but, much more importantly, is the sporting advantage that Lord Nimmo-Smith told us didn't exist.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Asterisk Years-First interview

I'll be on Beyond The Waves Celtic Show on Saturday to talk about The Asterisk Years-The Edinburgh Establishment v Celtic properly for the first time. Since the first time a rough idea of the story got out there, quite a few people have asked me if I'm sure I want to go through with it? You never know where folk are coming from when they say things like that. Most are genuinely concerned but I've heard enough "Are you sure you want to do this?" sentences in my time that really meant "Fucking stop now" so always look at each person individually.

I should admit now that a lot of attempts to annoy me have been made in the last few months. Things like attempts on my email, complaints to several online companies and so on have been an inconvenience more than anything. It's also been noted by more than me that a consistent few people are attacking me online just now and that could just be coincidence, I'm not Charlie Brown, but you look at it all the same.

The answer I give folk and what I always tell myself is "What is the alternative?" I've had to sit on this story for the last 15 months and it hasn't been easy let me tell you. In fact, in college yesterday, a lecturer tried to dismiss something someone said about "private education being a huge advantage" as nonsense and before I knew it I was lecturing the lecturer as to why it was.

So I'm itching to get the story out let me tell you.

I am going to get this book out and do everything I can to get the story out there.

This is the most frustrating part of any book for the writer, when you've finished it and just want to have a finished copy in your hands, that you are pleased with, and the book to be out there. Obviously I don't want to spoil the stories in the book but on Saturday I will reveal a lot more about it as I believe the key to this book is folk getting their heads around the stories.

Four people have read it so far, all of these are huge supporters of me, and their reactions were key, they were absolutely fucking raging.

That's how I was too.

In fact, one piece of info in the book still flabbergasts me to the point where it actually changes my whole outlook on life.

In the book there will be a few new things we are trying, just some fancy new shit for all you whizz kids out there, in the hope that it can be an interactive experience for you and that you can have better scope to take in the full enormity of the information contained therein.

One question I have been continually asked is "How many do you expect to sell?" and the truthful answer is I don't know and have honestly never approached any book like that. If selling one copy got the story into the mainstream then I would be happy because that's what is important to me, that Celtic supporters can feel vindicated and know they were not paranoid enough,

See you on Saturday.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mental about Celtic

Reading Jackie McNamara's programme notes yesterday it was interesting to see that he had identified Celtic's mental strength as the biggest obstacle his team had to overcome yesterday. He spoke at length about how we keep going, in adversity or otherwise, and that our players, even when they were not playing well, know that they could influence a game still. I know that he's trying to change the culture at Dundee Utd, more belief and a positive environment the two main goals but he has identified something in our team that have really came to the fore this season.

There was a massive debate raging on Twitter last night regarding our transfers in as, not for the first time, a lot of fans feel let down by our dealings. I am at the point where I shudder to think what we would have got had Forrest not got that last gasp winner on Wednesday given that Peter Lawwell seemed to miss the game yesterday to secure a young left back on loan and a guy from Peterborough who makes Mo Bangura look prolific.

The fact that he failed on both counts is a level of not getting the job done that I doubt Neil Lennon, who has given our club a lot of monumental moments, would survive.

The irony being that it would Lawwell who fired him. It would be cheeky to suggest that Neil would be happy with that given the amount of targets Lawwell misses.

Let's hope Teemu Pukki is different but sourced information doesn't describe the sort of penalty box poacher our team desperately requires. Increasingly we seem to always be linked to and buy strikers who don't actually strike. Stokes is an exception but he needs a high work rate and perfect technique to score most of his goals. We have Samaras and Balde who don't appear to be in the team to score goals (something I am sure both appreciate) and then guys like Forrest and Commons who can score but whose main job is to create.

It's been obvious to anyone who has seen us in the Premiership this season that we are creating plenty chances and getting into good areas but time and again guys are looking up and seeing no one to aim at in the box.

I don't think for one second that Neil Lennon is happy with this lot. His clear dig at the board post Shakter didn't work as we only ended up with the two players that he already mentioned in the same interview and you have to think he will be disappointed in that.

What is going through the mind of Peter Lawwell right now is a mystery to most.

What Neil Lennon will be happy with is how our team seems very capable of digging themselves out of bad situations in games and that any adversity can be met with the sort of fight back and toughness that was a regular feature of all great Celtic teams.

Why we need to keep digging it out, that's not a mystery.