Saturday, November 7, 2015

The 'Dundee United 3' Problem.

Getting the best out of the players at your disposal is the bottom line of any manager. At Celtic right now we have three players that we are not getting the best of, all from Dundee United. Gary Mackay-Steven has been written off as meek among the Celtic support, Stuart Armstrong does do it but just not consistently and I've yet to meet a Celtic fan who wouldn't let Nadir Ciftci go yesterday.

I think there are mitigating circumstances with all three and will try to explain them now.

It was the start of season 2013/14 that all three played together for the first time. Ciftci had been brought into replace Johnny Russell, on the recommendation of Pierre Van Hooijdonk, after the latter had signed for Derby County. This would also coincide with Ryan Gauld's rise to prominence. Mackay-Steven was in a bad place at this time. He saw Russell leave and the speculation that was already surrounding Armstrong and Gauld and he thought he had missed his chance of a move given his age. A sit down in Jackie McNamara's office would see a frank exchange of views with Jackie telling GMS that he could mark him out a game just now and he hadn't played professionally for years. The reason for this was his lack of movement. Jackie told GMS had to constantly take up new positions on the field otherwise a full back would not be worried about him. He also told him of his plans for the team now that Ciftci had arrived.

Jackie wanted a system that would see his front four players flourish. He had been tweaking things in the six months he had been at Tannadice and with Gauld showing he was ready, Jackie now was as well.

The start of the season would see crowds rise at Tannadice and football played that had the Dundee Utd fans drooling. (Check here for an average match report from that time)

Mackay-Steven, Ciftci and Armstrong were at the centre of all it.

From the start of the season through to Christmas Dundee Utd would win 11 games and score four or more goals in seven of those games. They were also a last minute Charlie Mulgrew header away from beating us at Celtic Park in this time.

They were flying.

The beauty of their formation was its simplicity. In effect they played a 4-2-4 with the ball and a 4-5-1 without the ball. The key aspect of this was no one in the front four had a set position. McNamara wanted GMS to float around up front, because he knew Armstrong was intelligent enough to automatically tuck in behind him when necessary or run off him when needed.

Armstrong would also drift left and come in on his right foot to great effect. He would often catch full backs out as they never had a clue when he would shift out left.

Ciftci was the maverick. He had carte blanche to go wherever he wanted, the protection of a back six afford him that luxury. He was not a target man or there to hold the ball up, he was there to ensure Dundee Utd scored more goals than the opposition.

And it worked.

Now all three are at Celtic, what they are asked to do is a total 180.  Armstrong and Mackay-Steven are asked to stick rigidly to Ronny Deila's system in order to give width to a three. Whereas Ciftci is asked to stay up top, hold the ball and be a target.

This is why the only thing we have got from all three is the occasional Armstrong cut in and shot/goal from the left hand side, on his right foot.

So we now face a choice, do we free them up or free them away?

Friday, October 30, 2015

Anyone but Celtic (The Film)

A small heads up on where we are.

We are suspending fundraising next week (Nov 6th) until February. Mentioned that a few times before but the reason is we know folk have bigger priorities at this time of year and don't need us hanging round them like a Jehovah's Witness.

At the minute we have raised £4590 towards our £7000 target in two months so we are absolutely delighted by that.

We have added a couple of new investment packages as well.
Have a look and see if you fancy something.

In terms of the actual film we are on draft number two of the script. I'd expect it to probably be around the seventh draft that is the final draft.

We have two folk locked in to play parts in the film for the dramatization of some parts of the story.

We have costumes.

We will start shooting the film in May/June next year.

Quite a few folk have asked me recently if I have the best PR in the world given all the horrendous refereeing we have experienced recently. The reality of course is when the truth is on your side, you're going to keep getting Alan Muir types popping up.

The reason behind the film is for impact of the story. No blog, tweet or even book can ever capture the power a film has over a collective in a room (ok so maybe The Bible but the point I'm making is that 100 people reading a book at the same time will never be the same as 100 people watching a film at the same time)

We are trying something different with this film, in terms of the way we shoot it and the way we bring the story to life.

We can only do that with your help.
As well exposing the Lanarkshire Referees Association, we want to celebrate the people who fight back against the corruption and discrimination we have faced forever and a day.

I'm asking you to back us in this and take the fight to the world.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sevco on trial

If you don't read blogs like this or follow certain people on social media then your Sevco news will come from a few PR guys and an ex editor or two who control the media and dictate to the population of Scotland.

Here's a quick thought- all those that claimed to have been duped, how bad will the prosecution witnesses look if they call up the likes of Sir David Murray and the rest of the MIH crew?

First thing I'd do if I was on Craig Whyte's legal team is ask that they all be struck off as confirmed proven liars and deceptive crooks, e.g. DOS tax case as well as the EBT one.  Lying to HMRC, denying side letters existed, noses in the trough, shredders, the lot.

Would you rely on any of them to tell the truth?

Hopefully those who govern the game also have nowhere to hide.

I suspect a few surprises for those that support the team currently playing out of Ibrox.

A victory that sends all to jail may end up with the team homeless or subject to a hefty annual rental fee from whoever is deemed the owner of the assets.

Mind you, would they need that stadium if no SFA license?

Much to lose by convicting anyone other than Whyte and Withey.

Probably the most dangerous of times for Sevco in it's 3 year existence.

Let's hope it's not Lord Nimmo-Smith sitting this time.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Asterisk Years available to download on Oct 1st

The subject says it all really.

The Asterisk Years will be available to download from here on Thursday October 1st.

The only caveat will be that before you get the link, you'll need to make a donation to The Kano Foundation first.

If you invested in the film you are entitled to the link for free.

October 1st marks the end of a journey that started almost three years ago when the source first got in touch (always tickles me that someone on a message board said it was an "imaginary source" I can only assume it was to go with the poster's imaginary brain) and then the book began to take shape and nothing was ever the same again for me after that.

The film itself had a few ground rules. We knew the type of audience was going to primarily pub and club goers so we didn't want to stretch it beyond 40 minutes. This worked really well on tour as it was just about the limit you could ask folk not to go for a pint or a piss whilst the film was on (Richard Swan was particularly good at enforcing this). The next rule was, like any story, it would have three acts and stick to the narrative. The last rule was to find the balance between those who were dialled into the whole subject and those who had no clue about it. I think that was done very well.

We now shoot the film out of our cannon and into the world. We are proud of it, not least because it raised £15,000 for charity, but because it is good. Also, out of the numerous times I've seen it, I've only spotted one mistake ("Ronald De Boer" written twice) and no one ever mentioned that anywhere haha.

We hope this does well for The Kano Foundation and we hope it reminds you who the real perpetrator of everything Rangers was.

Now we move onto 'Anyone but Celtic' another film we hope crowdfund (see link)
'Anyone but Celtic'

This film will be different to The Asterisk Years in many ways but it comes down to the same principle, pulling back the curtain on another organisation who cheated Celtic with impunity.

Fundraising for that closes on Mar 31st.

For now though, we bring the curtain down on The Asterisk Years as a project and if there was one personal highlight for me it had to be when 400 people at Celtic Park did a huddle and chanted "We Still Won"

That was Paradise.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

John Fallon's Paradise

Steven Gerrard has a new book out and it's pissed me off. I've not read it but I have read the first autobiography he brought out and it was as good a cure for insomnia as you'll get anywhere. Fast forward a few years and a leaving of Liverpool (has to be said, leaving like David Brent "left" The Office) suddenly there is a new book and one that is now actually quite interesting by the sounds of it. No consolation to the punters who forked out for the first one though.

Have none of these fears for John Fallon's book.

This is a warts and all look at his Celtic career, football career, life and Scotland in general through the eyes of a man who is, by his own admission, a Celtic supporter who just happened to play for the club as well. John's love of Celtic oozes out this book and he looks at situations like you and I would, which is refreshing for any regular reader of footballer autobiographies.

It can be a hard read at times but only because you're willing John on in his career in the early 60's when Celtic are in the pits of hell on and off the park and John gives you an insight into just how bad it was throughout those early years.

This is made up for by John's part in the golden years and one month in 1969 shines brightly as a treble was secured thanks in no small part to the original holy goalie.

What fascinated me most though was John's frankness about the bias and discrimination Celtic faced throughout his career that he had a ringside seat for. When folk like you and me say it, we get called paranoid and our sanity is questioned. When a player says it, you better sit up and take notice.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the honesty within it. It's not for the squeamish but I can guarantee there will be no need to write another one, it's all in here.

You can buy Keeping in Paradise by John Fallon with David W. Potter right here

Monday, September 21, 2015

Punish David Cameron, Protect Craig Whyte

Huns, Tories, Lords and Spin Doctors all with their noses in the same trough?

Apparently so.

The author of the book currently at the epicentre of the #Piggate storm, Isabel Oakeshott. is the same person who sent a message to Jack Irvine tipping him off about the press snooping around Craig Whyte, prior to his takeover of Rangers (IL)

The Sunday Mail were on to something in November 2010, however Isabel (who wrote a Craig Whyte story back in the 90s), gave Jack the nod that the Sunday Mail were keen on getting further details from her regarding Whyte's past.  Cue panic within, but hey, Isabel seems not to want secrets out... and kindly deflected the paper away.

Funny old world.

Wonder what happened as result? The swines.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Spinners

It was inevitable in the world of PR and spin we live in in Scottish football that when someone broke from the norm to actually say something newsworthy the media and their pals would adopt faux frenzy mode. Let's address the John Collins comments first. Yeah, pretty stupid to say out loud. It's hard to complain about no competition when you've recently signed one of your rival's three best players. It also is disrespectful not just to your opposition but to your own players who are out there fighting for the cause in every game.

With that being said, like a street performer loves Edinburgh in August, the klaxon sounds and The Spinners all come out to tune up their Twitter accounts and assemble the kind of concerto that would make the 'Go Compare' guy seem like Placido Domingo.

Why are we afraid of telling the truth in Scottish football?

You've only got to listen to Sportsound or tune into Sportscene on a Sunday night to hear a bunch of soundbites and platitudes normally reserved for a party poltical conference. Last night was no exception on Sportscene, with Stuart McCall treating the gig like a job interview, it was left to Mark "Willo" Wilson to provide the insight. One of his gems was about Charlie Telfer of Dundee Utd who he was glowing about. Yet ask any Dundee Utd fan and they will tell you he has been a massive disappointment. Simple research. If that wasn't bad enough, he then went onto say Sevco will win the championship by "15-20 points" based on what Mark? I'm sure we would all like to know? But no, it's the party line so it's not challenged by Jonathan Sutherland who, let's face it, hasn't paid into a football match in his life. I was actually only hanging around waiting for them to talk about the other thing I've seen fans react to this weekend, the bizarre penalty from Steven Thompson at Ibrox. With "Thommo" being a Sportscene regular, I awaited what I thought would be good TV as his mates dissected his technique.

Not a single mention.

Then we have the continuing columns from journalists in newspapers which should just be amalgamated to one daily front page that says "WE WON'T BE HAPPY UNTIL SEVCO COME UP"

All this came on the back of the drowning Sportsound programme last week where, not for the first time, we had a dick measuring contest from The Sevco Spinners.  Rather than talk about the huge European games coming up that week, or analysing the opening weekend of the league season in the top flight, we were treated to a Jeremy Kyle show on the radio.

All this is all the more stupid because more or less everyone in Scotland loves football and they aren't stupid.

The rise of fan media has in part came because of the amount of PR work that goes on disguised as journalism and punditry.

Yet, like most teams being out of Europe before the schools go back, nothing will change.

*Speaking of fan media, a wonderful new app has appeared. @celticnewsnow (as well as providing a brilliant Twitter and Email service) now has an app which can be downloaded for free from the usual outlets, now. You'll never need a newspaper again.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Pre-order Anyone but Celtic on Kindle now and an ABC guide

Housekeeping first. You can pre-order Anyone but Celtic: Inside the culture that created the Lanarkshire Referees Association. For your Kindle/Kindle App right now. Paperback on from Aug 21st.

Praise be for that.

Some of you will know I've been on the end of a fierce email campaign to stop the book being sold on Kindle. It was so fierce that some of those emails had over 20 exclamation marks in them.

This kind of thing always leads to a few folk saying to me "Why do you bother?"

This week has had me thinking a lot about that, what I do and where I am. It started on Wednesday when I jumped on a bus to go for the train to Celtic Park clad in the new away top. The bus driver clearly scowled at the sight of the top. So much so that he charged the bus away clearly infuriated. All the journey I was thinking about this and scrolling Twitter as the latest round of man made meteors were coming my way via Kindle investigating the "allegations made in a number of complaints about your book"

Not really sure of the nature of the allegations (unless book critics are now mind-readers) but at half time in the game yesterday I got an email saying the complaints has been rejected.

It's a strange one for me. In terms of writing, the first book anyone outside my circle gave a toss about was The Last Pearl Diver. That person was David Limond who urged folk to buy it. (The book is a novel and centres around the 93-94 era) and he would send me tweets telling me how much he loved me. Whilst he was still allowed to use the internet of course. It didn't really put me on the radar of the dark side though, save for the odd Scottish Tea Party member.

The Asterisk Years changed everything.

The hatred and threats went through the roof (some from people who proclaim to support Celtic) and go on to this day.  It definitely hardens you (Get your mind out the gutter) but you have to retain some semblance of normality.

I have some perspective on this. I know a guy who has experienced hate and threats on a grand scale. It was for standing up for his beliefs and taking the fight to streets of Edinburgh. A lot of this was pre-internet when threats came attached to axes rather than emails.

Mine have been pretty serious outside of internet land but the discernable difference now is they are more calculated, more sinister and more orchestrated.

My message in this is I know abuse is increasing all over the place and it is putting people off doing anything. I get lots of folk in touch who want to do things, things that sound fantastic, but are scared of offending folk.

It leads to having a set of basic rules, mine are:

Never respond to total vitriol. The only purpose of this is to engage you in a stream that they hope will end up drowning you.

Don't take abuse or praise seriously. I try to keep as balanced as possible in my projects, so I'm not down for long and inflating the cranium is always bad.

Never worry about offending anyone. You will offend folk. Even if you do the most non-offensive thing imaginable, someone will be pissed off by it.

If you sense humanity, grasp it. Sometimes someone will be having a real go at me and within that you'll sense just a shred of humanity, find it and go with it.

Be yourself. I'm not big on anonymous handles and a new persona every six months, go with who you really are.

I write those because a lot of folk see what I take and get put off. Don't.

None of these may work for you, they do for me most of the time.

This week alone I've been called a "fantasist" a "tramp" "smelly" "barely literate" "uneducated" and have had at least two keyboard batterers on me constantly.

In terms of ABC and the emails to stop it being on Kindle, the common theme folk have said to me is "How can folk complain about a book they haven't read?" the answer is simple, it's not the real world. The real world is worrying about your kids, paying your rent, having food in your fridge, a roof over your head and being as happy and healthy as you can be.

The way I work, I need to build everything from the bottom. I don't get instant success on anything and spend a shitload of time developing stuff behind the scenes. The only real success has been The Asterisk Years. I suppose By Any Means Necessary was successful given it has sold 12,000 copies and still sells around 20 copies a month three years after release but I hadn't really made a penny from books previous and was drowning in life's problems when it came out.

So if you have anything in mind and you give my advice even a crumb of credibility, then Nike. If a radge gadgie like me can do things, you certainly can.

What I have been able to do is paint by numbers, not just with work but with people too.

Especially "ra People".

You can pre-order Anyone but Celtic: Inside the culture that created the Lanarkshire Referees Association for your Kindle/Kindle App right now.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Asterisk Years available to download from October 1st

So last night I okayed an online cut of The Asterisk Years. A website is currently being built that will enable anyone to download it once they have made a donation to The Kano Foundation.

The website will go live on October 1st.

Investors in the film will be able to download it free on request.

There have only been a few minor tweaks from the cinematic version, namely at the end where we have protected the brilliant song "We Still Won" by Joe McKenna (So go and download it on iTunes immediately!) and we also dedicated the film to the person who inspired the entire project.

The Asterisk Years project itself was an incredible experience with ups and downs, thrills and chills and even some dungeons and dragons.

However, a line must be drawn somewhere and that line comes on October 1st with the launch of the online cut and the last bit of chat, from us, about the project.

It's time to move on and we move on with Anyone but Celtic the book of which can be pre-ordered on Kindle from August 1st and from Lulu on August 21st.

The film of Anyone but Celtic is currently in pre-production and we will go wide with information on that from October 2nd.

We shall return...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Asterisk Years is back on Kindle

In a week where you get mindless abuse like a meteor shower, what do you do? Open up another platform for it of course.

A quick backstory: The Asterisk Years (Book) was only ever meant to be out for a year exactly. Thinking back, I'm not sure why this was, something about the film standing alone (I think I'd watched an Andy Warhol documentary one night and went a little nuts)

Anyway, once the film came out there was a big demand for the book to come back out and so the paperback one did. I had nothing in mind about Kindle. There have been quite a lot folk asking about it going back on there and then came this week where I was accused, by the dark side, of getting rid of Amazon reviews.

I have never done that and wouldn't even know how to.

Let's talk about reviews, good or bad, I don't read them. People always call bullshit on that but it's true. A bad review will stick in your craw whereas a good review fattens you up and that is a bad place for a writer.

(Huge name drop coming)
I spoke to the brilliant author, David Peace, and he also doesn't read reviews even though his daughter will often say to him "You should see what people are saying about you on Amazon" and that's something I get a lot too.

Listen, if someone wants to constructively criticise anything I do, I've absolutely no problem talking to anyone. Many have been reciprocated on that score. However, if someone wants to batter the keyboard putting a review on Amazon that amounts to "I will do anything I can to stop people buying this book" then the furthest I'll go is to visit them once a week to ensure they haven't hung themselves in their basement. K?

Similarly, I get abuse from Sevco and Rangers(IL) fans almost every day and they will never like me or anything I do. I get that. Plenty of them will part with a few quid so to batter into the keyboard their best shot at it being the last few quid the book makes (The money from them gets evenly split between the Catholic Church, Sinn Fein and HMRC)

As I say though, if folk want to criticise the writing, no problem at all. The Asterisk Years was written as a comparison piece, my life growing up in poverty as a Celtic supporter in Edinburgh against the source material provided about the lives and crimes of those in The Edinburgh Establishment. I completely understand that adds a "Hurry up and get the to good stuff ya bastard" shout (Once, someone drunkenly came up and told me at half time in the League Cup Final against Dundee Utd that the book was shite until the 'guid stuff' started) and it's something I took on board for Anyone but Celtic which has very little autobiographical element in.

Point is this, apart from those who just despise me no matter what I do, the others who focus on the autobiographical element of The Asterisk Years do so because they don't want any focus on the juicy stuff.

The juicy stuff which, much to their chagrin, went onto become a highly successful documentary. I attended every screening and throughout them all there was just one dissenting voice I heard, a guy was outraged that a film had been made rather than all the stuff in it handed over to the MSM. That didn't even come at the screening, it came that night on social media so, again, it's not worth worrying over.

You'll notice a price decrease all over the world, that's due to sales and the ability to do that.

There's also a wee joke on the cover.

In fact, all my books in Kindle have been marked down in price because a new one is coming on September 1st and that will also be cheap and, hopefully, affordable to all.

Finally, I'm going to review what I just wrote:

"Paul Larkin really should stop talking about abuse. If it doesn't bother him then why mention it? Clearly, he is really bothered by it and this ties in with his crap blogs, which I will NEVER click on again and I would urge EVERYONE to be like me"

You can buy The Asterisk Years: The Edinburgh Establishment v Celtic by clicking on this link:*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Anyone but Celtic 2.1

Where are we? Well, as busy as ever. Whilst The Asterisk Years kind of fell from one part of the project to the other, ABC feels bigger, far more efficient and a lot more like something we know what we are doing with.

The book was completed around two weeks ago. This was met with a lot of support, the ubiquitous hate and the usual suspects standing on a corner looking the other way, whistling. It's been about 14 months of writing all in, the vast majority in April, May and June of this year, with a slight change of style and huge reliance on research, contacts and sources, this is a 180 from previous two books of this loose trilogy (By Any Means Necessary and The Asterisk Years being the first two parts) with the almost complete absence of the autobiographical aspect that was deluged over the first book and skewered through the second book.

As things stand, pre-orders for Kindle/Kindle App start on Aug 1st whilst the Paperback on can be pre ordered from Aug 21st.

General sale of both starts on September 1st.

Some other dates concerning ABC(The Book)

Aug 7th-Twitter interview with Richard Swan.

Aug 15th-Video interview.

Aug 21st/22nd-10 in a row show ABC special with Graham Wilson.

Sep 4th- Book Launch in Carluke.

Whilst all that is going on, we are in pre-production for ABC (The film). This includes forming a narrative for the film, structure, seeing what sort of budget we will need, how we will fund it, where we will be filming, who we will be approaching and so on.

All book sales will go to the film and the launch in Carluke is a fundraiser as well.

You may have noticed that I haven't been on air talking about this book or it's contents.

That is deliberate.

For now/

Indeed, we had to keep a level of secrecy about this project that meant a dummy book cover/blurb was thrown out at the end of May to throw a couple of people off the scent as at least one source of the book came very close to being compromised. The real cover and blurb sit atop this blog.

You may also notice soon that this will be the cheapest book I've ever brought out. This is twofold. The first point about it is to get the price as low as possible to help get the story out there. The second point is that the success of The Asterisk Years has allowed this (Ironic given the lengths some of the people and some Celtic fans went to stop folk buying it, maybe that's why more bought it?)

Like with anything we do, your role is absolutely crucial in this. We don't deal with the MSM, use PR companies, seek serialisation or bombard radio shows.

The main question of this book is "Who's the mason in the black?"

We will provide answers.

Also, we hope to have a good bit craic with all this and you as well. In my experience, that's what Tims are best at and what we all excel in, seeing the funny side.

With some of the refereeing we have been up against, you'd have to.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

With thanks

What a night. I've had many great nights in my life and moments to savour that will live long in the memory but nothing that has came close to Friday night at Celtic Park.

Just magical.

I'm not going to spend all day waxing lyrical about Friday but I do need to pay tribute to a few folk. Firstly, to Steven Falls who was the perfect "go to" guy at Celtic and ensured there were no stresses and that any issue was solved in the blink of an eye. A credit to Celtic. Similarly the stewards and staff at Celtic Park were absolutely fantastic.

Then there was John O'Farrell of Celtic Canvas Art who decorated The Kerrydale Suite in an Asterisk Years theme that just took my breath away when I saw it. You can find John in the Forge at Parkhead every day and buy his brilliant work.

To Claire Fowler and her guitarist Chris who lit up the night with a fantastic set. If you ever need a singer, music, whatever, look no further.

To Lisa and Mary who organised all aspects of the raffle. A tough task made harder by, incredibly, some hostility and ignorance of the causes, which made the job they did all the more outstanding. Thank you ladies, no one else could have done it so well.

To everyone who came on Friday, thank you. You came to party, you came to celebrate and you did the best huddle I've ever seen outside a game. You are the inspiration upon which we build everything. A lot of you travelled long distances, made weekends out of it and put your heart and soul into it.

That means everything to me.

A monumental thanks to Richard Swan. I know he hates compliments but I can honestly say the introduction he provided, pre film, on Friday and the walk I did from my seat to the stage was the best moment of my life. It wasn't a "yeeesssss" moment, it wasn't an orgasmic moment, it was just sheer magical and beautiful bliss. From the Richard Swan tap. I'll never, ever forger that Richard and you made my family very happy,  thank you.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this project. You've blown away the nay sayers and the doubters, the knockers and begrudgers and for that, I'll never be able to thank you all enough.

See you in Vegas.

Jah, get back to work!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

We all want to change the world

I've missed most of the election build up (Lucky you I hear you say) Since coming back from Australia I had some sort of virus that has had me in bed and on the couch longer than Homer Simpson so I've had ample time to bring myself up to speed on what has been happening and the conclusion I came to is: Not a lot.

For the first time in my life, no Socialist candidate is available to me to vote for and I face a choice. I'm not an SNP guy. I've never really felt a connection to them although I do like Nicola Sturgeon. I used to look for perfection in politicians and political parties, more fool me. I'd probably be 100% voting SNP though were it not for the Offensive Behaviour Act and so I took it upon myself to email my prospective candidate, Michelle Thomson, and ask her for her views on it. I tweeted that I had did it too and got responses along the lines of "Good luck getting a reply". So there I am three days later, on the couch, watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix and the door goes. It's Michelle. She introduces herself and refers to my email. Right away I'm thinking "Fair Play" for coming to the door. I wasn't just going give it up then though so I started asking her for her views and we batted back and forth, agreeing and disagreeing on several things. This is the first time she was running for election and I could sense that she wasn't really SNP, more old Labour in all honesty. She also didn't have a clue about football but was ballsy enough to stand there and take a lecture from me in my old man dressing gown.

My take on it was that she didn't really get the anger felt by so many on this act. I hope she does now.

Thing is a lot of my views are old Labour yet I've never voted Labour in my life. I've listened to many friends tell me why they were still Labour Party members and how they would one day change it back from within and I can understand them not wanting to give it up totally to the likes of Balls and Murphy. It should also never be forgotten what a beacon of hope the Labour Party gave the working class people when it formed and the two greatest achievements of any party in UK history remain the creation of the welfare state and NHS.

Yet it took a second world war to happen for people to demand them and the closest thing Britain ever had to a Socialist government (and they were voted out at the first time of asking)

The Green Party, perhaps, offer a fresh alternative. I know a lot of old Labour people in England have gone green and with the sort of other parties on offer there, who could blame them? I suspect too a lot of "anyone but the Tories" voting will go on in England as well.

Ah, the Tories. Five years of making the poor pay for the mistakes of the rich, food banks on the rise, horrific benefit cuts and the worst Chancellor ever. They appeal to the England of Katie Hopkins and Jeremy Clarkson with backing from Murdoch and all his tentacles and they wonder why so many despise them?


Which brings me on to UKIP. Just not with a steamroller unfortunately. I saw Farage being asked a question by a new member "What do I say when people accuse us of being racist?" I expect Farage has been asked this thousands of times and was keen to hear what I assumed would be a polished response honed over many years. Instead he brought his right hand to his mouth, paced up and down the room, looked at the floor and said "Hmm, you'd think with our European election results, people wouldn't ask that any more"

That to me was code for "I'm bloody famous, stop asking me awkward questions!"

Still, only a week to go and I probably won't make my mind up until the pen is in my and paper in front of me in the polling booth.
By the way, are the Lib Dems standing this time?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Anyone but Celtic 1.0

So the PR campaign over the last few weeks has been great, right? I often get tweets along the lines of me being some sort of master manipulator, a Frank Underwood type, who somehow is able to make things happen in Scottish society at the same time I am publicising a project about said same subject. Alas, there are no such dark arts going on just merely topics that are a certainty to keep delivering as regular as the postman.

Right now I am balls deep in a new book that looks at the culture in Scotland which breeds an 'Anyone but Celtic' mentality. Between story and narrative we will go inside an organisation which has a recruitment policy designed to ensure anyone but Celtic win football matches in Scotland.

A lot of anecdotes will be laced through the book to further emphasise the culture in Scotland that allows such a policy to not only go unchallenged but positively thrive.

This is, I guess, part two of The Asterisk Years in that the topic is cheating again. Unlike The Asterisk Years there will be no real autobiographical or comparsion element which will delight those who, if they ever did write a book, would never do that.

Again, all this book is down to a great source. I took a lot of flak for not revealing the source of The Asterisk Years, something that mystifies me as much as Chinese writing. Similarly, because I went to the former house and office of David Murray this infuriated the likes of Keith Jackson of the Daily Record for reasons that are as obvious as that handball last week. Well, sorry Keith, I've already been to the houses of the main protagonists in this one.

The hardest part of any project is the discipline. Day after day in front of the metaphorical pottery wheel shaping your creation the best you can, which is why I applaud anyone who manages to finish a book save for J.K Rowling. I'm about two thirds done with this book, primarily because I wrote a lot in Australia, something which quite a few thought I was only saying for show, if only...

Of course, this will be a film too and shooting starts a year from now, God willing.  A script is being written alongside the book and locations have already been scouted.

For now though, it's all about the book. There will be a launch in September and, for the first time ever, it won't be in Glasgow. Nor Edinburgh for that matter either.

Right now though, I'm off to ensure a sending off for nothing today...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lagging on right to Paradise

Since getting back from America, I've felt like an insomniac. They say insomnia is when you're never really awake and never really asleep. A total of 33 hours on planes in two weeks covering three different time zones has had me wiped out with jet lag all weekend and left plenty time to start thinking about the next few months. If previous experience tells anything it's that keeping focused on the point of the project is key. Being given the opportunity to spread the word and tell the story is both humbling and enriching. It also brings a wee bit apprehension, you go places you don't know and meet people that were previously strangers but your biggest concern is they have facilities to actually show the film. That sounds ridiculous but an example is one place who thought they were buying a DVD that they could show any time they felt like it. Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, I was approached by the same place again, put a gig on the books, only to be told two weeks later that the person had done it without telling anyone and it was now off.

It's always the smallest hurdles that trip you up.

One enormous hurdle crossed since I got back is that there will be a screening of The Asterisk Years at Celtic Park on Friday May 15th.  Tickets(£21) are on sale to members of Paul Larkin Books on Facebook and my mailing list. General sale starts on Feb 28th.

This will be the last screening of The Asterisk Years in Scotland.

The intention is to make it a gala night with a screening, Q&A, special guests, food and entertainment all part of the ticket price.

The Kano Foundation will be the raffle recipients.

It is something I've tried, when given the chance, to do throughout this project because The Asterisk Years was partly about giving opportunities and that is something The Kano Foundation constantly do. The other thing is, I like their style. They just go about their business without self serving, trumpet blowing or ego massaging.

More details of the Paradise screening when the general sale starts.

It's been a really special last two weeks for me, the welcome I received wherever I went, the way the film was appreciated, the standing ovations it got and the multitude of new friends made were all obvious high points in this project. So many people in America will live long in the memory.

Attention now shifts to screenings in Scotland and England over the next few weeks with most of the gigs sold out already. A very humbling fact indeed.

It's been an incredible journey so far but it's not over yet.

Friday, February 13, 2015

New York is green and white

My last day in California meant a day in San Francisco. I'd been once before but that was 1987 and so I was looking forward to it a lot. Being driven from Santa Rosa was perfect, took about 45 minutes and among beautiful scenery. It gave me the chance to reflect as well, the previous night had saw a packed bar watching The Asterisk Years in a place I hadn't even heard of six months ago. One of the questions I get asked is why certain people, in the media or on the lunatic fringes of it, never mention the film. I used to give a few different opinions on this but Santa Rosa made me realise: Who gives a shit? Most, if not all, of these people are in the game for a career or to protect one and therefore their opinion matters to me as much as Bomber Brown's. What I care about is what the people in the street think. I'd shut myself down for good before I'd go down the road of doing or saying anything controversial just to stay relevant. Which of course we all know they would be doing if the film was shite, so their only weapon is ignorance from an ivory tower. How ironic.

San Francisco is a beautiful city and I loved being there but I was itching to get back to New York. Anyone who knows me knows how big a bearing the city has had on my life. I was on the red eye from SFO and incredibly we boarded on time with no weather issues on this balmy Californian night. All was good as we got ready to taxi to the runway when...BANG! A coffee pot explodes. So we have to wait twenty minutes on a guy to come and rip it the fuck out, something I could have done in two seconds, before leaving. Incredibly, some middle aged woman piped up "Wait, does this mean there's no coffee on the flight now? Can't we wait til we get a new coffee pot?" A few of us looked at each other in that "Yeah, I'm in if you want to throw her out the window" kinda way but thankfully the stewardesses were in no mood to indulge this cry baby. What it did mean though was there were no films or TV on the plane which suited me as I had three seats on the plane to myself and could stretch out. I could never normally sleep on planes but have slept on all bar the short one on this trip. Thank you God. Hitting JFK at 5.30am, I was in my hotel in Manhattan for 6am, finally finding the half hour the traffic isn't crazy in New York.

It was great to be back.

I was back in October and so normality had crept in again, something that hadn't taken place for me in New York for almost a decade and when my head hit the pillow, it felt good being alive. Or as good as it can be at 6am on a Sunday morning.

My friends from Nairn, James and Donna, were flying into Newark at 12pm and we were meeting up with Jock Kennedy and Frankie Fraser at Grand Central at 2pm to be picked up by Chas Duffy to go to a screening in The Bronx. They arrived incident free and it was great to see everyone again, in particular Chas and Kev Devine whom I didn't know would be there. There was that lovely "never been away" feeling as we sped up the FDR and poked fun at MetBhoy Frankie as we passed Yankee Stadium.

I lived in The Bronx for two years and most of it was an unhappy experience but that Sunday Chas, Kev and everyone who packed out Ireland's Thirty Two washed that all away with the skill of an Upper West Side window cleaner. It was made even better as Yahmpy and family made another appearance too. It was a great day and great catch up and another box ticked in the promises I'd made around this film.

James, Donna and I had intended to get the Metro North from Woodlawn back into the city but decided instead to call in on the most bizarrely named cab firm in the world (Break To The Border) and just taxi it back to midtown. We hit Faces and Names on West 54th St but the guys were struggling and went to bed for around 10pm. I was buzzing though and knew my best friend on the planet would be in midtown for 11. It's hard to overestimate what Gary and I have been through but needless to say it was like we had never been away. He came bedecked in Celtic colours and just added another reminder that New York is indeed green and white. We talked and drank the night away in O'Lunney's and things seemed normal again. I've struggled with a lot of past shit affecting my mental state but I've moved on and feel stronger, better.

Monday came and I took the Nairn crew to the village and Little Italy. My Donnie Brasco obsession meant another visit to the Mulberry Street Bar (formerly Tony's Bar) before my Sopranos obsession meant another visit to Cha Cha's restaurant for sausage and peppers.

We went back to the hotel via Union Square and a look at America's debt before decanting to Jimmy's Corner for some cheap beers before a meal that could choke a buffalo in Virgil's. Of course, I shouldn't have been doing any of this, I should have been in Boston but an almighty snowstorm put paid to that. I was gutted because I love Boston but not a single mode of transport was available.

Tuesday I knew would be a day off so I had already made my mind up to take the guys to Queens and see some of New York that the tourist guides won't tell you about. So we did a good diner on Queens Boulevard and had a little walking tour before going to Donovan's in Woodside for an afternoon drinking. Except it was closed. Frustrated, we took the 7 train back to Manhattan not realising fate had just played her hand. Through a serious of bizarre circumstances, far too strange even to relay here, two hours later we were sitting in the Ed Sullivan Theater, the one The Beatles changed America in, watching a live recording of the David Letterman show. It's hard to describe how surreal this was. I'm an avid fan of Letterman and at times it felt like I was watching the best HD picture ever.

Minds blown, we decided to have a big night out in Hell's Kitchen and I'd like to say I was the target of a cougar except a friend in Cali pointed out that I am too old to regard anyone as a cougar.

A drunken night was had by all though and Gary put in another appearance.

Wednesday was game day, for Celtic at Firhill and me at Jack Demsey's. So I watched Celtic at Firhill in Jack Demsey's. This gave me a chance to hook up with Big Tommy again, the lynch pin of the NY Fenian Bhoys. Guys like Tommy are one in a million. In fact, ten million. Another successful screening ensued and this part of tour was over.

Jack Demsey's gave me a chance to meet a whole load of new Tims and reaffirm my belief that the fans are the club. These are the people I made this film for, not for the press, the careerists or the critics, but the folk for whom Celtic is a way of life. I was given gifts by most of them and that's the best aspect, a recognition that we are in this together. Celtic have millions of these people all over the world and through the film I've met over 2000 of them since November. They are the ones who suffered most through the two decades of cheating, which explains why they get it and probably answers why others don't.

Oh, and God Bless America.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

California Love

Leaving Philly the morning after the Sevco slaying wasn't going to be straight forward. The north east of America was being battered by snow storms and the departures screen at the airport glared at me with cancellation written so much it was like it had been given lines as a punishment. My flight was still going though but the numbers in the departure lounge worried me. There were only about 12 people sitting there for a flight due to leave in 40 minutes. Investigating like Columbo, the flight was still going and the pilots had even arrived. We awaited our plane to arrive from Raleigh (North Carolina not Walter) and ended up boarding 30 minutes late. This was a worry, I was only flying to New York and had just a 58 minute layover, then I saw the reason there were so few people there, the plane was an 18 seater. The scheduled flight time was 40 minutes but the pilot said we would be in the air for 15 which started to assure the worried faces who were all thinking "storm, tiny plane, storm, tiny plane" and there was pretty much chop the whole time but 20 minutes later I was queuing for my next plane to San Francisco from JFK and was feeling pretty good. We were boarding early and this plane was huge, all was good. Right up until I sat down, looked out the window and saw a snow storm that would have put off Captain Scott. Needless to say the runway was closed and we were delayed two hours, before my second plane de-icing of the trip. I didn't relax until we were in the air.

Touching down in SFO, late but happy, my cousin Tony was there to pick me up and whisk me away to his house. I had a couple of days there before heading to Sonoma County and was able to meet Tony's kids for the first time. No jokes, it was magical. Wednesday we drove up to Santa Rosa, which took about 90 minutes, and checked into the Hotel La Rose with minimum fuss. What was very noticeable all around the streets was Peanuts. And Charlie Brown, plus Snoopy too. Turns out Charles M Schulz ended his days in Santa Rosa. We decanted to a local bar as happy hour was just starting and alerted Peter Meechan, my contact for this screening, who got back immediately and said he would be there in 20 minutes, always a good sign. I'd been in town a few hours and it occurred to me that I was as far from home as I've ever been and here I am showing a film here. Who the hell is going to be interested in this? This far out you expect a Peter type guy to be all about the hoops and maybe one or two more but that's it. Anyway, Peter duly arrived and had two other guys with him (Good, at least there would be five of us at the screening) and we all immediately hit it off. I'd wrongly assumed Peter was an ex-pat but he was more American than Apple Pie and his two buddies, Jimmy and Isaac were exactly the same. As usual though, that combination of Celtic and good alcohol enabled bonds to be made and before long we were all laughing, joking and talking all things Celtic. This was magic. Here I am in wine country, California and I'm talking Celtic with three great guys. Bliss. We hit a few more bars and drank til closing time before the guys walked us back to our hotel. There was no need to do that but that's just the kind of guys they are.

Next morning, slightly delicate and a head cold developing, we were picked up at 12 (there had been talk of 7am pick ups the night before through beer bravado, this was never happening) and whisked off for a day of wine tasting. I've tasted plenty wine but I've never been wine tasting and obviously my main point of reference was the movie Sideways. We did a few different places with the highlights being Limerick Lane, which tied me in particular up for a while, and Francis Ford Coppola's place which not only had great wine, a swimming pool and a stunning setting but also had lots of different things pertaining to his movies (the gold telephone from Godfather 2, Dracula's suit, Robert Duvall's surf board from Apocalypse Now) and all the Oscars he has won. You may not be that impressed, my jaw was on the fucking floor the whole time.

Friday was the screening and that meant rest up before it. My head cold was awful and I needed a sleep. Isaac came to pick us up at 6 so we could go to Jasper O'Farrel's in Sebastopol and set the movie up. We had a few issues but got there in the end and that's when I took stock and realised the bar was packed. There were seven guys up from San Francisco but everyone else was local. This blew me away but not as much as the kind welcome I was given by almost everyone (one lunatic woman managed to annoy everyone in the bar) and blistering night took place with Jimmy as MC making Jay Leno look like an amateur and the film going down a storm. A lovely kicker was the bar had its best ever night. So much so that they were happy to give me 15% of the takings. I reacted with one of my many double takes of this trip. Those takings got split between Mary's Meals and The Kano Foundation and a perfect night was complete with new friends made and lifelong bonds created.

We got about two hours sleep before up for the Dundee game (430am ko) and let's just say things weren't quite as boisterous now. The San Francisco Bhoys joined us and were great craic again. The host, Lucas, even did a great breakfast but it was tinged with sadness because when it was done so was I and I knew I would be saying goodbye.

Schulz ended his days in this part of the world, my theory is he visited, met Peter, Jimmy and Isaac and just stayed forever.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Philly Feile and US Premiere

I made my way with Yahmpy to the Plough and Stars on Friday Jan 30th. The initial plan was to go the night before but President Obama was in town and that meant a lock down. In all these situations I am keen to test the film so when I spoke to the guy behind the scenes in the Plough on the Friday let's just say there was much merriment when he suggested I upload the film to YouTube so folk could just watch it from there. I say much merriment when of course I mean something else entirely. Things were sorted very quickly though and the rest of the evening was spent meeting old friends, making new ones and watching Yahmpy dodge hypothermia.

So to the day of the premiere and again I was keen to get in and ensure all was ok with the film. You'd be amazed just how many people book the film months in advance and then test their equipment 15 minutes before it's due to be shown. No fears in Philly though as all promises were solid and it would be shown on two TV's so huge that you imagine the only other owner of the type is Tony Montana.

Graham Wilson appeared which was handy as he was MC for the day and we all made out way up to the An Gorta Mor memorial for a blessing from Father Brady. I said a little prayer for the film too. See I had no idea how it would be received and whilst everyone else is on a mission to drink as if prohibition was coming in on Monday, I'm still standing like the naked art model seeing if anyone wants to paint me.

Thankfully, there was nothing to worry about. People showed fantastic respect to the film (Not easy in a rammed pub) and anyone who did fancy chatting was immediately told that they had had better ideas. The standing ovation the film received was a warm bath experience for me and the questions afterwards were insightful and fun to answer.

Philadelphia has a lot of solid Tims, most of whom have gone unrecognised for far too long but the likes of Seamus, Fitzy, Timothy, JohnJoe, Martin, Joe and the rest will live long in my memory.

After the success of the day, it was time for a chill out.  I put myself in Graham's hands as we drunkenly wandered the streets of Philly looking for bars and restaurants. It sounds crap eh? It was absolutely brilliant as we just shot the shit and I could relax for a while.

Sunday morning, up with the lark, the zombies were slain.

By now I was exhausted and took the opportunity for some much needed kip post-match before taking in the Super Bowl that night.

Thoughts wandered to California as I was leaving for there in the morning despite dire warnings of storms and flight cancellations.

The bigger concern for me was I was taking my film to Sonoma County, a place I had never even heard of before I'd agreed to go, to be shown to be people I'd never met in my life before.

How's that going to work then?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Jet Lag, Jet Lagging and The Friday.

It's 4.33am in Philadelphia's historical district and I am wide awake. Jet leg doesn't normally bother me much but it has hung over me on this trip like an umbrella over the President when there is the chance of rain. It started on Thursday. The previous day I'd taken a train down to Manchester to have a relaxing night before an early flight to Philadelphia. I'd got to the airport for 8am on one of those horrible mornings, when it's dark and cold and you'd rather stay in bed with Lorraine Kelly, but got checked in with minimum fuss which security then made up for by demanding I recreate The Full Monty before passing through. Manchester Airport Terminal 3 was being upgraded (to be fair, it needed it) so there was limited options to do anything other than sit in the terminal and hope that WiFi is part of that upgrade, preferably in the next five minutes. It was then it started to snow, the sort of snow that bothers even an Ice Road Trucker and it was clear this was going to be a problem. My flight was due to leave at 10.45am, the airport closed at 10.30am. As people clambered for information, flights all over the place started to be cancelled and I feared the worst. All the negative thoughts ran through my mind but the main one was what the fuck was I going to do if this plane wasn't getting off the ground today? I asked a Peter Kay lookalike/soundalike for an update and whilst he was genial enough, he clearly didn't have a clue what was happening. The Gods and the sun then shone on us and the snow ploughs were out clearing the runways, the main obstacle to us taking off and we were told we would be leaving at 1pm. I contacted Yahmpy, picking me up, putting me up and putting up with me for the next few days, he was cool about it(he's cool about most things) and I looked forward to getting on board, getting a film on and getting one of those meals that consist of mainly rice and tough meat.

I should have known.

The captain announced we would be leaving after the plane was de-iced and that it would take 20 minutes. Two films later and we were still sitting on the runway. It was now 4.30pm and frustrations were running high. People knew there was limited scope for us to now go on this flight, staff time and all that, and the worry was that we would be back off soon and back in deepest, darkest Manchester. This was commented on by a particularly cheery American guy who remarked breezily "Hey, do any of you guys think we will get off the ground?" Oh yes pal, there's a huge chance you will.

At 4.45pm we started to moving. The feeling was like when you think the guy has just told folk the bar has closed and then your mate says "Don't worry, we are getting a lock in" and we were off. I don't normally sleep on planes but I even I succumbed thanks to this increasingly long day and Liam Neeson walking through the tombstones being about as entertaining as a night in with toothache.

The flight was non-eventful and I was boosted by the announcement that agents would be on the other side to help people re-book connections. This would give me a good run at bypassing most of the plane and getting to immigration first. For some people, this is a breeze, passport, fingerprints, photo, stamp, have a nice day but when you have a past as chequered as a flag at Formula One then you're always that wee bit keener to get it over with. I always scan for the person who looks the most affable and was mid this when I was called over by a guy who looked like he chewed wasps in his spare time. He gave me the third degree for what seemed like an eternity as he had an issue with the last time I was in America, New York in October, in that he refused to believe I was only there for a weekend. Like anyone in a uniform, it's pointless arguing with them, so I waited it out until he asked me what my job was and seemed happy about that (I actually said "Student" and I could tell he was thinking "Ah, I was right, he is an asshole") and the library like stamp was on the passport at last, he would lend America to me for the next three months should I need it that long.

Then came the wait at the baggage carousel, boredom alleviated when a sniffer dog took particular interest in a Keith Richards lookalike who remarked "Oh he probably smells my dog off me", Yeah ok, now touch your toes.

Finally out, I caught sight of Yahmpy who had the look of a guy who had a longer day than me. Understandable. He had taken the day off to pick me up at the airport at 1.45pm and  the time now was a post-dinner chocolate mint. It had been our intention to go to The Plough and Stars to test the film but that intention was supposed to include things like daylight and slightly less exhausted bodies so we skipped home instead to South Jersey. I say skipped, Yahmpy drove and I sat in the comfiest seat I'd been in all day. President Obama was in town, umbrella and all, so Philly was on lockdown and I was glad to be in the warm confines of Yahmpy's new home and a wonderfully hospitable welcome from his wife Christine. I've been in situations in the past where I have been made to feel unwelcome in someone's home and it's a horrible feeling. Similarly, since a lot of bad shit has happened to me in the last 18 months, I make it a rule to never stay with strangers and with Yahmpy being pretty far from that and Christine putting me at ease immediately, I was delighted to be with them.

Yahmpy's fridge had a selection of beers to suit a beer experimentalist but that's not me so it wasn't long before I was in a cosy guest room for the six hours sleep I'd get before the inevitable jet lag kicked in. Jet lag has a weird way of making you feel totally fresh after a sleep, it's just that it's about five hours before everyone else wakes up.

So Friday was a long God damn day made better by visits to the Phily diner and of course, the Plough and Stars for the Feile.

But that's for another day.