Thursday, 28 January 2010

What I Made When I Went to Milan...

You may recall when I went off to Milan at the start of December to do some acting and ended up saying something very rude by mistake and meeting the lovely and very talented Danny Alder.

Well, what we made was a very clever idea for an IKEA advert and here it is, I think it's grand and contains many magical moments of pure comedy gold, including my incredible Italian voiceover. Look out for the virals based on me and Danny's game of charades, if anyone who speaks Italian can please tell me what my guesses are, it would be much appreciated. Obviously, I understand Star Wars...


Sunday, 24 January 2010

Why I Support Manchester United Part 2

I just realised that in my previous post, I alluded to something regarding my love for United peaking and then dimming and then haven't explained, as I said I would, so this it the post where I do just that.

Up until United won the European Cup in 1999, I was very much an intense and passionate Man Utd type, going to as many games as I could (although no longer as cheap as it used to be and far harder to come by) and cheering from the rafters/cheap seats. I even played David Beckham in a show at the Nottingham Playhouse about when he was sent off against the Argies...anyway, I digress.

Ever since United became my team, I immersed myself in their history and one thing that loomed large, especially after the title triumph of 1993 that banished the 26 title-less years, was the re-gaining of our rightful crown as the champions of Europe. United always seemed a long way off ever putting that travesty to rest and 99 seemed to be no different. United only got in via the qualifying round and past the awkward Polish team LKS Lodz, before going on to only make the knock-out phase after finishing the second best runner-up, quite a bizarre idea but one they embraced and faced the awaiting Internazionale, who were quite a formidable shambles and we bested them with some ease, clearly the run would come to an end however, with the great Juventus waiting.

Managed by the genius Lippi they were formidable opponents and at Old Trafford they drew 1-1 and I really felt we were going out but then of course came Roy Keane's tour de force performance at the Stadio Delle Alpi, a performance of such immensity, bravado and heart on sleeve power it still takes my breath away thinking about it and from two-nil down to three-two and a win on Italian soil Manchester United were in the final.

And it was the bloody Germans (isn't it always) in the form of Bayern Munich that were awaiting us; powerful, metronomic and with England's arch-tormentor playing libero Lother Matthaus, it really didn't bode well, especially as United were without Keane and Scholes and the Germans took the lead only six minutes in and held it without much concern.

I was watching the game at home with my then girlfriend and some very good pals, who sadly I have lost contact with, it was unseasonably hot in late May and the sash windows were wide open for the breeze and beer was flowing and much shouting was going on at the TV but clearly, we were going to lose one-nil.

The fourth official indicated three minutes of injury time and United had a corner, I was screaming horse to get it in and get a toe on it, even Schmeichel ventured up to Bayern's penalty area. Beckham flighted the corner in just over Schmeichel's head, Dwight Yorke put the ball back towards the crowded area, and after Thorsten Fink failed to clear sufficiently, the ball arrived at the feet of Ryan Giggs on the edge of the area. His right-footed snap-shot was weak and poorly struck, but it went straight to Sheringham, who swiped at the shot with his right foot, and nestled the ball in the bottom corner of the net.

Time of goal: 90:36

Oh the joy and then I thought we had a cracking 30 minutes of extra time to go before we lost on penalties to the Germans, as we always do.

But United forced another corner, we were all screaming at this point, Beckham again swung it in and it was headed downwards by Sheringham...Solskjær shot out a foot and poked the ball into the roof of the Bayern goal and United were in the lead.

Time of goal: 92:17

I can't quite remember what happened but I do remember screaming and then throwing myself out of the front window(not through the glass but through the gaping sash), into our front garden, leaping over the fence and finding myself on my knees in the street (thankfully, we lived in a cul-de-sac) cheering, screaming, shouting with tears rolling down my face as the noise from the TV told me Manchester United were the champions of Europe.

I will never forget that moment.

Commentator at the time Clive Tyldesley famously said: "What must Lothar Matthäus be thinking?" before adding: "Well, with the greatest respect, who cares?"

Little did I realise that was the night that the real burning intensity of fandom died, when I went from being a United fan in the truest sense of a fanatic to merely a supporter, a casual follower, rather than a die-hard.

Perhaps my flame will be re-ignited when Man Utd get shit again?

For now, I'd like to live on memories of that night and of Clayton Blackmore's scorching runs and Danny Wallace falling over and Mal Donaghy being a rock and those young boys: Gary and Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and David Beckham becoming the greatest in the world.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Why I Support Manchester United

(This is the United legend that is Clayton Blackmore, or 'sunbed' as he was affectionately known, he was a great utility player who could fill any position and was flash as 'owt, I used to love to watch him play and bat on down the left-wing and boy could he hit a free kick)

My last post and some feisty commentary there has compelled me to write this blog today, to explain why I support Manchester United.

Yes, I was born in Nottingham and was surrounded by Forest fans (and a smattering of County stalwarts) but my dad didn't care much for footy as he was born in Watford and much preferred Formula 1, athletics and boxing.

Anyway, as a wee child footy wasn't on my radar really apart from finding Nottingham Forest legend Brian Clough really funny whenever he popped onto Central TV but then, one day in May 1985 and no idea why, dad had the FA Cup final on and I was watching it and I caught a glimpse of Ron Atkinson (now outed as a terrible racist but back then was cool as fuck), Man Utd's then manager...

and I decided there and then, based on the facile fact that Ron looked cooler than Brian Clough and Everton's manager Howard Kendall put together...

that I would now support Manchester United, who that day won the FA Cup. It was the last thing we won for about 5 years.

So to be clear, I'm an old school fan and although my initial attachment to them came from such a tenuous place I became an ardent fan and in those days, United were awful in comparison to the great Forest, who most of my mates supported and this led to endless stick and my role as the supporter of an underdog team, who never won much and were living off past glories.

I loved this time because we won nothing, got beat a lot but occasionally did wonderful things and we had a dour and seemingly permanently red-faced Scotsman in charge (still do of course). I saw United whenever I could, which was quite often, the tickets were cheap, Old Trafford (which looked dated even when it was refurbished in the early 90's) was a wonder to be at. The peak for me was winning the (sadly defunct) European Cup Winner's Cup in 1991, me and dad saw all the home games (including a Montpellier HSC side with Carlos Valderrama and a young Laurent Blanc) and a few away matches in France and Wales, before we smashed Barcelona (who I then saw the year after win the European Cup at Wembley) 2-1 in Rotterdam.

This was my era and of course, when we won the league in 1993 after 26 long and painful years (when Leeds United pipped us to it in 92 with a team of real journeymen, I mean, Mel Sterland and Stuart's Pearce's eternal understudy Tony Dorigo, never mind LEE FUCKING CHAPMAN! I never thought we'd do it and we'd blown our chance forever...I cried like a baby) and started to boss English football it was wonderful and all of this peaked in the moment my love for United dimmed...

But more on that tomorrow, for now here is a collection of some images of my favourite United players!

(Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister, what a pair these were and both criminally underrated but it meant they never got called away on England duty, Pally had a deft touch for a big man and I'll never forget the year Brucie got 17 goals in the league from centre-back!)

(Brian McClair, prolific beyond belief, a banker to score and made a wonderful if incongruous central midfielder as he got older) 

(Les Sealey, God rest his soul, was a typical English keeper, a purveyor of a seemingly dead tradition of the English maverick keeper. I remember him screaming at a physio as he refused to come off the pitch for treatment...just mental)

(Old Sparky Mark Hughes, the best half-volleyer of a ball ever? Scored crackers, never many of them but worth his weight in gold up front as he was so strong. Thighs like tree trunks)

(Lee Sharpe was all about pace and 'nowt else and as soon as he had his first serious injury he was half the player but at the time, blessed with Giggs as well, it was like we had pace and youth to burn in them days)

(Roy Keane, warrior king, leader of men, pictured here ending the career of another player, a living epitome of Shankly's phrase about football being more important than life or death. Everyone wanted him in their team)

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

I Love Gary Neville

Manchester United played arch rivals and subhuman scum Manchester City in the Rumbelows...sorry, Carling League Cup, last night at Deadlands, they beat us 2-1 with both goals scored by Carlos motherfucking Tevez, who then celebrated his goal in front of United legend and one of the finest right-backs of all time, Gary "Che Guevara" Neville.

Gary Neville responded thus...

Hence, why I love him.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The PCC Submission

This blog post is all about calling the Press Complaints Commission (hereby referred to as the PCC) to account and thus, our press to account. This is an invite to all of my readers to join me in this noble venture established by Tim Ireland of Bloggerheads.

The thrust of it is a request from me to you (that is if you agree, I'll not twist your bloody arm that our press is in a fair bit of a mess) to sign the following petition, which for all you hotlink phobics is also listed here in it's full and glorious form...

Now, this is much more than a petition; it is a group submission to the Editors' Code of Practice Committee for their annual review of the PCC's Editors' Code of Practice, and it allows anyone who endorses it to add a suggestion of their own (or more, if you wish). In other words, it is a petition that (a) is pretty much guaranteed a group response, and (b) warrants/enables individual responses, too.

Now, Tim has more info right bloody here, as well as a very smart video here and the petition itself has a full breakdown of what we are suggesting, so you can either approve of it, or not.

Aside from that, if you do agree with our cause, then of course do what I've done (and many others) and blog about it, if you want a press that is more accountable and quite frankly, a hell of a lot better than the rabble we have now.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 18 January 2010

"All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy. All Work and No Pay Makes Jack a Mean Motherfucker"

  1. Don't compare yourself to others, compare yourself to yourself
  2. Throw out the notion of referencing yourself against others, comparison only leads to self-loathing not self-improvement, this can only come from self
  3. Don't waste time and obscure your own potential by trying to match somebody else's
  4. If you really want to get it done in life then you have to prepare yourself for what becomes of a real moving, living and breathing individual: it is going to hurt but it is worth it
  5. End of lecture

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Henry Rollins at the Royal Festival Hall

Anyone who knows me knows that Henry Rollins is my personal hero and a man who is a day-in, day-out inspiration to me, via his music, his books of poetry, thought and deeds; work with the troops for the USO and his legendary, epic, ass-numbing spoken word shows (seriously, they last 3 hours and kick your fucking ass).

It was as a depressed 18 year old that I first connected with Henry Rollins, via a bizarre double attack of my cousin Shayne, who turned me onto the awesome Rollins Band album "Weight" and the urgings of Kurt Cobain who spoke endlessly about Black Flag, of which Henry was of course the last and best singer.

So in 1994 I bought "Weight" by the Rollins Band and "Damaged" by Black Flag and the two albums kept me propped up and damn near held me together as a human being and as much as I loved the jazz-heavy metal of "Weight", with its uplifting determination in the fact of adversity; it was the life shattering visceral "Damaged" that saved my fucking life, I swear, a record of such density, rage, anger and empowerment I felt I could rise above whatever life would throw me and knock it down.

That record still has the power to transform me, indeed as a young buck "Damaged I" (take a listen right here), which closes the record, used to be my record to get me pumped for a fight (macho bullshit I know but I was a kid) and I still know the howled lyrics off by heart, a mantra to reach a deep, personal-pain intensity to search and destroy.

The cover of "Damaged" is Rollins smashing his fist into the glass and at that time that's how I felt every single day of my life, grieving for a dead best friend, dealing with a life without drugs and coping with my first grown-up relationship. Needless to say, every time I had spare cash I'd buy another Black Flag record and they are my favourite band of all time, just the best music ever and their emblem adorns my left arm, as it should.

I soon began consuming Rollins' prodigious writing output of poetry, prose, diaries and the back catalogue of the band he formed after Greg Ginn quit Black Flag, the perfunctory titled Rollins Band. He became an anchor, I even wrote him a few times and he kindly replied (I am furious with myself that I no longer have these letters) and even now his writing, ideology and beliefs form a centrepoint for my own beliefs and it was because of Henry that I got into Nietzsche, Celine, Sartre, Miller and the seminal work of Bill Shields; which in turn spiralled into so many great authors and thinkers.

So anyway, Eva-Jane and I went to the Royal Festival Hall last night (of all places to see an ageing, alternative rock icon) to catch Henry Rollins in action, Eva's fourth time of seeing him and what must be my 10th or something like that...lost count.

It will come as little surprise to you that it was an awesome show, so positive, so uplifting, inspirational; like a really good three-hour talk for the best motivational speaker you could possibly imagine, pulling at the heart strings but never mawkish, educational but never a hectoring; absolutely essential, so liberating and empowering. If he ever passes your way you should seriously check him out and before I go I'll leave you with an old clip of Rollins doing so spoken word.


Thursday, 14 January 2010

Washington DC: Reflections (Tread Lightly With Awe Inspired Steps)

Eva-Jane and I had a pretty amazing time in Washington DC, I'm not sure but I think it was my favourite holiday of all time because we were so close, sharing so many great historical sights; moving places to visit and experience, as well as great food, relaxing evenings out and my own personal homage to where Henry Rollins grew up; which Eva supported with such a sense of adventure it really drew us closer together and re-reminded me of why she is quite simply the best human there is. Ever.

We pretty much saw everything there is to see in the Washington DC area, from the big famous sites, museums and memorials to the more obscure bits and pieces that dot the place; in fact the only things we missed were President Lincoln's Cottage at Soldier's Home and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Visiting the neighbourhood of Washington DC homeboy Henry Rollins, walking the streets he did (does...when he pops 'home') and getting a feel for the man through the streets he pounded (Eva-Jane and I mused whether, if ever I become famous, people will trot around the streets of St. Ann's and Carlton on their own personal homage and how weird that would be and slightly dangerous as Rollins lived in a pretty nice area and I didn't...) was not my only personal pilgrimage. Thomas Jefferson is one of my great heroes and a visit to his memorial was a profound experience; as was our repeated visits (one in the evening and the other in the day) to the Lincoln Memorial. The visit to the US Capitol was also phenomenal, a real sense of history struck me and the great men and women that had walked and perhaps touched, the same walls and bannisters as I was.

Speaking of touch, unless a sign warns me not to, I have to, as I find touch the most powerful sense when I am looking at amazing sights, via touch I can transport myself, even if only a small piece of me, to the past and to humbly try and experience a small connection with that time, person or place. Speaking of a small connection, I love how the memorial to John Fitzgerald Kennedy is a monolithic arts centre, what a fitting tribute to a great man and as we wandered it's great halls and spaces; it was a profound joy to gaze into the eyes of Robert Berks' benevolent bust that denominates the Grand Foyer.

Of course, we saw in 2010 in DC, in a comedy club of all places, watching the great husband and wife team of Megan Mooney and Eddie Gossling, who had us laughing right into the new year, which I think is as good a way as any to start a new 365 day adventure.

On our last night in DC we went to see a basketball game and cheered loudly for the desperately bad Washington Wizards as they were unfairly beaten by a fine San Antonio Spurs team, of course we stood for the national anthem at the beginning of the game but I didn't know enough of the words to sing along, so just looked very serious and soaked up the great atmosphere at the game. Eva and I had such fun that night and you can see highlights of the game we were at right here.

While we were over there it was pretty damn cold and DC, like any city, has a lot of homeless and we'd see them hanging out in the freezing around our Metro stop Dupont Circle first thing in the morning and then in the same spot when we'd come back late at night, so we'd give them some money and whatnot. Anyway, Eva-Jane and I had a few jumpers and bits and pieces that we weren't going to be taking back to the UK so Eva, being a legend, came up with the idea of giving our stuff to the homeless guys and gals we kept seeing around the tube, so we did. It's funny, I'd have never thought of something like that but Eva just hates seeing things go to waste and has a big heart.

But I have got to have one bitch...forgive me. Eva-Jane and I got pretty pissed off with the behaviour of tourists (from all over the globe, including Americans on their own patch) at memorials, sites of mourning or at museums to pretty horrendous events, like the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which is so intense and has most people in tears, including me.

While we were visiting these deeply sacrosanct places, I could not understand how anyone could talk while they were shlepping around. I am always silent. Awestruck. If you shut your fucking mouth for once and stopped talking all that useless, time killing bullshit, you might be able to tap into the eternity and humanity that stands before you. Instead, people with their tour guides or headsets, or mobile phones or whatever shit they need to distract them from something far bigger than them, stomp around chattering their idiotic, ceaseless nonsense.

Speaking of tour guides...what is it with these people trying to be funny as they vomit out dimensions and facts that they have memorised. Repeating things read in books. The people who built these places were seeking something much bigger than a paycheque, they were building something that would stand for something, not unsharpened humour that barely conceals your boredom and fatigue.

My advice: tread lightly with awe inspired steps.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


As a last resort, as a last romantic gesture, you can always throw yourself away before they do it for you, I once asked a 14 year old who had the word SKIN tattooed across his forehead what he'd do if he ever lost the faith, he said:
"Cut me 'ead off or maybe grow a fringe."

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Nobody to Look After Her (Let us Try to Remember Them)

I was over at Back Towards The Locus yesterday and I stumbled upon this piece by BenSix and it brought tears right to my eyes as I read it; it was such a deeply troubling story that plays on all of your worst fears about loneliness, isolation, disconnection and watching a loved one die. I think it is a horror story, a story of such unremitting bleakness...if one reflects upon it, have the narrative in your mind's eye and try to transport yourself to the loneliness of it; the witness of death; both your own and the man you love. Truly horrible.
Police found the bodies of pensioners Jean and Derek Randall, both believed to be in their mid 70s, on Thursday after forcing entry into their home. It is feared Mrs Randall, who was confined to a wheelchair, and her husband, who was her sole carer, may have been dead for as long as five days. Police suspect that Mr Randall may have died first and Mrs Randall then died because she had nobody to look after her.
As BenSix puts it: "The poor Mrs Randall, then, was assaulted by intertwined horrors: the death of her husband, and her own deterioration, both of which she had to cope with in a state of total loneliness."

I don't know whether I am particularly sensitive right now but I can't get this story out of my head, I find it's content so moving, so traumatic...I close my eyes and keep seeing Mrs Randall there, as a stark witness to being forgotten, she must have gone out of her mind as she starved to death or...God knows what. So through this meagre effort and BenSix's blog post, let us try to remember them.

I can't wait for Eva-Jane to come home from work today. I miss you baby and I love you so much.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Hide My Ass Because I'm a Coward

The old adage of normal person+Internet+anonymity=asshat (don't forget the other version of that equation which is: damaged, lonely person+Internet+anonymity=deeply, deeply disturbed borderline psychotic obsessive asshat) is of course horribly true and one of the things that makes the Internet a drag at times.

But I had an epiphany just the other day, which is that anyone who uses a fake identity, anonymity or any other method of hiding who they are really cannot be taken at all seriously. If you are not able to put your name to your ideas, words and concepts; you really can't hold them with that much conviction and strength. It's either that or you are ashamed of them.

That doesn't mean of course that you can't hold stupid, backward and idiotic ideas if you put your name to them but at least you have the courage of your convictions, a willingness to stand by your ideas and vice-versa, not all writers that hide behind anonymity are fools but there is only so far I think you can go with them.

Of course, anonymous cowards when faced with this fact cry about their identity being on a 'need to know basis' which is a terrible justification for being an intellectual weakling and for me means that the nonsense they write is on a need to know basis and I really don't need to fucking know.

The funniest thing to me is that I get these freaks visiting my site hiding behind a web proxy, something that disguises where they are visiting my website from and their IP address and whatnot. This is funny for two reasons: firstly that they are so cowardly that they have to cloak who they are (no doubt justifying their cowardice with some James Bond fantasies and delusional concepts about the preciousness of their identity) and secondly, that for all their protestations of loathing for me, they just can't stay away from me.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Promise Broken: Another Blog Post About Auditioning

Another day, another audition, which is all good.

This time I was going with my comedy partner (not that he is my life partner but rather he is a bloke I do comedy with...hope that makes sense?) the very brilliant Martin Collins.

Martin and I often go up for stuff together as a comedy double act, we riff off each other well and we are both Nottingham lads so have a similar pallet to call upon, apart from me being a bit of a swearer and darker; we double up well (again, that is not a sexual reference).

As we always do, Martin and I met up before hand to have a beer (I am off the ale so had a vodka orange) and to throw around some ideas so that we can have fun in the casting and do the best we can. This we did and generated some very fine material about pretending to be Pac-Man, having sex with aliens knee-caps and thinking that Michael Jackson was in Moonraker, when he wasn't. Trust me, it was funny...

We then got to the casting and were told to stick exactly to the script with no free-styling, impro or ad-libbing at all; which strikes me as odd, surely you want the actors to do the best they can and bring something of themselves to the job? Otherwise what is the point? Just get a mouthpiece to churn out the lines and job's done.

Needless to say we ignored the advice as best as we could and tried to bring some of ourselves to the part and bring them alive from the script and of course, it was these bits that got the biggest laughs and that they enjoyed the most. No surprise there, they've sat through a long day of the same script again and again, so someone coming in and shaking it up a bit is going to be good.

Always strikes me as odd that, they have an idea in mind but the actors job is to complete that idea by bringing in who they are and how can you do that if you can't mess about a bit with the script? Luckily, Martin and I are brave enough to do that because every job we've got has been down to never sticking to the script.

Long may that continue.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

I Know I'm Supposed to Blog About DC but...

I've been back in the UK all of two days and my agent, being as brilliant as they are, got me my first audition of 2010, which I think is pretty impressive and of course it's good to get back on the horse (the horse in this case being the audition process) so soon into the new year.

Today's audition just happened to be at one of my favourite casting places where the staff are real cool, mainly because they love Black Flag but also because they make your time there top notch and are just all round good chaps.

So anyways, I stroll up in the snow and all is well, do the usual signing in thing and put all my personal details down and inside leg measurements and have a photo taken and look through the script (which is in reality a bunch of set-ups, scenarios and ideas, so all good) and then crack on with reading my current tome, Henry Rollins' "Smile, You're Travelling".

Ahead of time, which is odd in an audition, I hear my name called out, casting director's hand is shook and I am walked into the audition room to meet the director and whatnot and then it is time to do my stuff.

It's funny, I must have done hundreds of auditions in a thirteen year career but after a gap, you kind of forget what they are like and my last one was the middle of December so it's like having to remember all over again how weird they can be. So I do the action as required (I forgot to mention that I had to be naked from the waist up...fear not, it isn't pr0n, just a shower scene and stare straight down the lens) and it all goes well and the director then asks me to do less, more subtle, less movement; which is cool even though I wasn't doing that much in the first place, so I go for it again and he wants even less. Having not been in an audition for a while and kind of forgetting myself and finding all this quite funny (still being topless and all), I decide to stare into the camera, as requested and do absolutely nothing...and guess what? He loves it.

Welcome back to the actor's life!

Note: trying to find an image for this post I Googled: stare into the camera and do absolutely nothing and these are just a few of the treats that came up...(and I promise to blog about DC tomorrow)

Tuesday, 5 January 2010