Mike’s Place

June 29, 2011

Crete. Sissi.

My first holiday holiday (a holiday holiday being a holiday where all you do is be) in yonks. A holiday without the sightseeing, without the doing things: friends lent us some snorkelling gear – flippers, snorkel, goggles – we craftily left them at home. When I go in the sea I float on my back and look at the sky, none of that downwards stuff.

Just being. Sitting by a pool or the sea, looking into the sun so your eyes hurt. Then trying to read a book; something distant, removed, with short chapters. I took Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis. And The Information by Martin Amis (I started this in 1995, it’s about time I finished it).

Drinking is good too. That’s part of the deal. Cocktails even. As the sun goes down. In (it’s true!) a bar called Hemingway’s.

And food.

Ah! Food (not as in ‘Aaaah! Food’).

Food in Greece isn’t what I expected. I don’t know why but I expect food in foreign parts to be exciting, different, maybe blue. Certainly involving things I’ve never had before. Like Kakamaska and Toremosalinas. Or perhaps a Bigou plant. Or a Bigou fish. Or some Chevkasalakas. It doesn’t matter what it’s called, just make it exotic. I quite fancied some Fekhamadoras, but even they weren’t to be found.

Meat was available though. If you like Meat go to Crete. Lots of meat.

One of the restaurant’s recommended to us (for its authentic Greek cuisine) was Mike’s Place. It didn’t look too promising:


It turned out Mike’s Place was just up the road. This was simply where Mike sat to tell you what his daily speciality was.

Mike’s selling point was that he offered an ‘ecological menu’. This meant that all the meals came from Mike’s farm, just up the road.

I’m guessing here, but I think Mike lets a few animals (goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, octopi) run around his garden (free range) and every morning, when he awakes, he thinks to himself  “what should I kill today?”

He makes his decision, kills, then sits on his chair, by his sign. And as you pass he says: “Ecological menu. Today – goat – from my farm!”

We didn’t go on the goat day. We went on a lamb day. The vegetables came on a side plate. They had to, there was no room on the meat plate. Here’s my plate after I’d finished my meat.

I’ve made this pic  smaller. I’m not sure why. I think I may feel bad. Earlier in the day this was a little lamb, gamboling.

Here’s Mike’s farm (maybe). All I know is, the next day, as we walked past, there was one less goat.

possibly Mike's farm

And to think I used to be a vegetarian. I blame Mike. And Bret Easton Ellis.

A few weeks back I was a judge at Literary Death Match. You can read about the build up to it here. Yes, I was anxious about it, but I needn’t have been. Everyone was lovely, all the performers were top notch, and I did my best to be be whatever I was meant to be.

Ok, yes, well, there was one moment of trauma. I think that is why I haven’t been able to write about it until now. I’d hidden it away. But, today, thanks to the guardian, it has come back. Reading the Review section I came across this.

Anyways, you’ve read that now. Go on, read it. No, do.

So back to my trauma. When it came to voting, we (the judges), maybe we didn’t pick the crowd favourite. In fact, when we announced Lee Rourke, author of The Canal, as a semi-final winner over Nikesh Shukla, author of Coconut Unlimited, there was  silence. Did we hear right? Can that be? Simon, repeat what you have just said. Yes, he did say Lee. Well… ok… if that’s who you’re picking… idiot… pant-swinging fool…

Made worse by one of the judges saying “Simon had the deciding vote”. I did not! I just voted. The same way as you! Two to one. I decided nothing! Nothing! I’m no Cowell! Please, let me leave. (No, not the event; that was weeks ago. Just let me leave leave).

I never wanted to judge anyone.  I’m sorry ok? You were both great. If I could, Like Cher, turn back time, I’d make it a draw… or just not judge. I’d abstain, tear up my ballot paper, go to the toilets and throw up, not arrive, stay at home, go back to Salford, regress, back further, to Hope Hospital. I’d ask them, plead… don’t let me be born. Not today.

It’s too late for that. Good luck with the books. Well done Clare Pollard, Milly McMahon, Lee and Nikesh. You are all winners. And losers. And thank you LDM’s very own Tyler Durden, Todd Zuniga, and Nicki Le Masurier and Suzanne Azzopardi for inviting me along.

Here we all are, having fun.


Literary Death Match

July 14, 2010

I’m off tonight to be a judge at Literary Death Match. How did this happen? Well, I was asked by Suzanne on Twitter. But I don’t mean that. I mean how did this happen!? Or maybe I don’t even mean that. Maybe I mean why did this happen?

I scrape by doing bits of writing, here and there. But judging others? That’s not for me. I was always taught, by someone or other, judge not others lest ye be not judged by thee thyself but by those. Something like that. Just don’t judge, ok? Leave that to judges. In wigs.

Now I see what’s happened. I’ve been mistaken for a judge because I’ve been known to have a thing for wigs. Ok, I’ve worn a few in my time. But still. How? Why? When? Tonight. Where? Concrete, below Pizza East, Shoreditch.

I hope I get a pizza.

What do I know about writing?

I’m nervous now. But I might enjoy it. I may enjoy it. I don’t even know the difference between the two. I can’t judge!

And I’ve got to dress in an 80’s style. That’s because we’re celebrating the launch of Bret Easton Ellis’s new book and even though it’s new it’s 80’s set because that’s what he does best.

Books of his I’ve read: Less Than Zero, American Pyscho, Lunar Park. Oh, and I’ve seen the film versions of The Rules of Attraction and The Informers. I wrote about that here.

I hope they don’t quiz me. All I can remember is the rat in the tube and Phil Collins.

I’m naked at the moment becuase I have no 80’s clothes. I have to leave soon. I once had a “Frankie Says… Nay, nay and thrice nay” T-shirt. This was Frankie Howerd’s jokey version of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood T-shirts. I wish I had it. I’d wear it. I do have it. It’s in storage. I don’t have the time, or the stomach, to face my belongings.

I’ll have to go in a suit. That’ll do. I don’t have an 80’s suit for fancy dress times, I just haven’t bought a suit in a while. If I turn up the sleeves I’ll look like Crocket and Tubbs (is that right? I’m getting confused. I’m panicking. I’m messing up Miami Vice with The League of Gentlemen.)

I’ve got to get dressed. I’ve got to go. Hell, I am a judge but I’m starting to feel like the accused.

It’ll be fine. I’ve just been picked as a judge for my novelty value. All I have to do is say “swing your pants” every now and then.

Swing your pants. I wrote that (along with Trev). Two people writing three words.

At least back then I knew how to edit something. Can’t say the same of this post.

Flat Stanley

April 13, 2010

You may remember Flat Eric from a few years ago.

Well, Flat Eric became a bit of a hit, was made into a soft toy, and I bought one for my niece one Christmas a long time ago. He’s still knocking around their house somewhere, having gone through the “wow! Cool ad!” stage to the bargain bin stage, and now, who knows, maybe he’s due a revival.

Or has Flat Stanley taken over? Flat Stanley’s been sent to me by my nephew. It’s a class project thing. He’s coloured (or colored since he lives in the USA) Flat Stanley in and he’s sent him on holiday. To me. Pity poor Flat Stanley.

He’s Stanley Lambchop, from a book by Jeff Brown. I’d never heard of it, and if you haven’t you can find out more here.

My job is to show Flat Stanley a good time and then post him back to my nephew. He’s not got long so I’ve got to get on with it. I might take him out to pool tonight.

So far he’s watched the Grand National and been to Stratford Upon Avon. He wanted to see a Shakespeare play, but I wouldn’t let him.

Yes, I know. I know what you’re thinking. So, yes, ok, I did forget to take Flat Stanley around Stratford with me and only remembered at the last minute as I waited to get the train. But, you know, he’s flat, and flimsy. I didn’t want him to fly away. Or get pecked by one of those Avon gooses.

I’ll do better. I’m under pressure. My nephew writes “I know Stanley will enjoy his vacation* with you… You are helping to make learning about Geography fun and exciting!

For those of you who missed out, here’s the film my niece and nephew made when I spent some time with them just after Christmas, Bad Guys Wear the Best Underpants. Time for a re-release. Look carefully and you’ll see my nephew peeping through the dolls house, and you’ll see him with his sister at the end. He should have sent Clint Frecklestone on his hols. That’d be a laugh.

* American talk for holidays.

W Hate Smith and Bob Dylan

October 25, 2009

This is a blog post of hate. Maybe. Most of the following is true. The odd line, here or there, may be made up. Not quite a lie. when is a lie not a lie? When it’s a joke? How would we know.

I am starting to hate W.H. Smith. When I bought Watership Down off them sometime in the early 70’s with my Christmas book token, I loved them. But it couldn’t last.

It may be a plan they have. Sometimes, when love breaks down, when we know our days are numbered, we will create hate just to give ourselves an escape plan. Woolworth’s fought for our love til the end, and as a result I think they will come to be missed. But clearly W.H. Smith have a death wish. I’m no expert, no forecaster, but they will go. One year, two years at the most. And they won’t be missed. When the last W.H. Smith closes we will all breathe a sigh of relief, and, at last, will be given back our shopping free will.

Am I being harsh? I hope they go, but I do not wish to see their staff out of jobs. If I worked for W.H. Smith, simply put, I would work for them no longer. I would be sacked. I would refuse what they demand of me to do. And this is the crux, this is the damnable act; the way they make their staff ask us unneccessary and unwanted questions.

Their crime against the customer is heightened when it’s a W.H. Smith at a train station. Few of us travel to train stations to hang around. We’re usually coming or going and W.H. Smith is a good (well, the only) place to pick up a newspaper. And even that’s not so easy.

I knew what I wanted. A bottle of Lucozade and The Guardian. That’ll be £2.69. But wait! If I buy The Sun at 20p I can get the Lucozade for £1. But I don’t want The Sun. I can get one paper and a drink for £2.69 or two papers and a drink for £2.2o. But I don’t want that little bundle.

Still, beggars can’t be choosers (and despite my supposed P-list status I am a beggar) and so I go for the two papers and a drink cheaper option. Damn that Murdoch and his conniving ways (though it’s Sunday now and the paper remains unread).

I queue to pay. A longish queue. No surprise, for each person upon reaching the cashier is subjected to the same attempts to make the customer buy things they, until that point, didn’t want.

It starts with a “How are you today?” I reply “very well. And you?” But my question gets no response. Instead she asks me if I would like some chocolate for £1. No. Then I’m offered chewing gum. No. If I’d wanted these things would I not have picked them up? Am I too arsey? Yes, a little bit. But she takes the biscuit when she offers me a rabbit. Then a toaster. Then a mail order bride. All for £1.

Her final attempt is to offer me a  free Evening Standard. I tell her two papers is enough, and I think she starts to get the idea that I’m not falling for the devil’s sales pitch.

Later, on my way back to the station, I pass St. Martin in the Fields. A church no longer in any field, but right on the edge of Trafalgar Square. As I walk along the left hand side of the church, heading away from the Square and towards Charing Cross I walk along a display of photgraphs from around the world, and underneath each a lyrical line.

I don’t know much about Bob Dylan and so I fail to realise I am reading the lyrics to “A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall” in reverse order. When I get to my end, which is the beginning, I understand the story.

Mark Edwards was stuck in the Sahara in 1969. Around the same time that a man stepped out on to the moon. In the desert he was greeted by a nomad who made him a cup of tea. They sat, drank, and the nomad brought out an old cassette player and played what may well have been his only cassette. And it was the Dylan song. Mark decided to illustrate the song with images from his own and his friends travels. If you’re passing the church, maybe on your way to or from the station, and you have the time, it’s worth a look.

Dylan

The Informers

July 24, 2009

the-informers-posterEveryone’s got it in for The Informers. And the chances are they’re right. But there was something about this film that meant I had to see it. Not just because I’ve got my cinema pass allowing me to see as much rubbish as I can, all for £16.50 a month. It was something to do with the casting, the 80’s, the soundtrack, the writer.

The film kicks off with New Gold Dream (81/82/83/84) by Simple Minds. At that point I was already gving it 5 stars. And look at the cast; Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder, Chris Isaak and um, Rhys Ifans. And Bret Easton Ellis; an author who can make me laugh out loud and then, as he did with American Pyscho, make me put down a book and not be able to pick it up again for a good three days.

I like Easton Ellis and his washed out eighties nostalgia thing. Look at that poster; greed,sex, youth, and a ghost of a blank statue; a replicant heading to Cardiff to kiss Captain Jack.

The 80’s of Easton Ellis is something I know nothing of, other than from his books and his films. I wasn’t greedy, sex was hard and my youth? Well, I dressed it up in the clothes of old men. I was what became known in the 90’s as a shoegazer, but in the eighties we were just slopey kids in our dads coats. So, glamorous people taking drugs and having wasted sex were sort of appealing. And I think that’s the Easton Ellis joy; have your cake and eat it; be appealing, be appalling. Celebrate and condemn. Bret Easton Ellis makes me feel like I lived in an 80’s that I never actually lived in. If I try really hard, I can even convince myself I once went out with Kim Basinger.

Kim Basinger, Billy Bob Thornton, Mickey Rourke. These are people I’d happily watch in anything. I’d watch them eat chips. But in this film, in this film where they really should shine, they’re wasted. Particularly Mickey. He’s one of the greats, and he’s back on the scene. He’s the nearest we’ve got to a next generation Bogart. But in this, he’s just mucking around in some sub sub-plot, kidnapping a kid for reasons that are never made clear. I can see why people are starting to use Mickey again, but I think it’s for the wrong reason; it’s because he comes with his own costume.

And Chris Isaak, he’s off in one of the other stories (this film wants to be a compendium but it’s like the smashed up pick n’ mix counter in a post apocalypse Woolworths) taking his son off on holiday to Hawaii. I love Chris Isaak (he swung his pants with me) but he acts like Mark Kermode on methadone; he’s Kurt Russell’s stunt double after one too many duff falls.

So, it’s not a good film. And it lacks the fun of The Rules of Attraction and American Psycho. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the film version of Lunar Park to get the old joker Bret back. A final plus point; it has Simple Minds and Wang Chung. And Men in Hats;

I say, we can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
‘Cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance
Well they’re no friends of mine

Today is one of those days. And it’s been a bit like that since I went to see Synecdoche, New York last… what day was it? Last week. But when? Oh, yes, Wednesday. I put a plea out on Twitter for a “follower” to meet me at the cinema; any follower; then we could do the Orange Wednesday thing. Go before 5pm, meet a friend who only has to pretend to be a friend (they can sit as far away from me as they choose once in the cinema) and suddenly we see a film for £3. It’s a bargain. But nobody showed. I’m guessing my Twitter followers thought I was joking… or are only pretending to follow me thinking it makes me feel better. Well, it does. Even when I know you are only pretending. I am happy to have pretend followers where even if you are real followers you are still only following me in pretend because it is Twitter and it’s not real and it will fade and die only to be replaced by MindPamphlet or YouBully.

I can’t write about Synecdoche, New York. Not yet. Maybe never. I don’t know what to say and no one is whispering in my ear. I wish they were. It’s a great film and maybe the saddest film I’ve ever seen and I am going to go and see it again tomorrow. It is a film though that could send me into a deep state of inertia. Sometimes somethings are so true that I truly don’t know what to do next.

If you are thinking of seeing it, see what you think of this; the Minister in the play within the film gives his sermon:

“Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make; you can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won’t know for twenty years. And you’ll never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce. And they say there is no fate, but there is: it’s what you create. Even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain, wasting years, for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right. And it never comes or it seems to but doesn’t really. And so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope for something good to come along. Something to make you feel connected, to make you feel whole, to make you feel loved. And the truth is I’m so angry and the truth is I’m so fucking sad, and the truth is I’ve been so fucking hurt for so fucking long and for just as long have been pretending I’m OK, just to get along, just for, I don’t know why, maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery, because they have their own, and their own is too overwhelming to allow them to listen to or care about mine. Well, fuck everybody. Amen.”

Or this, from the character Millicent Weems:

“What was once before you – an exciting, mysterious future – is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone’s experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone’s everyone.”

You’ll know if this appeals to you or not. And don’t be down, there are some laughs along the way too. Just like in life.

I hope Charlie Kaufman doesn’t mind me pinching bits from his film for my blog. I do it with the best of intentions. And though I will not claim to be his biggest fan or his number 1 fan I do claim my place as fan number 5,432,679.

And today I finished “My Fault” by Billy Childish. If you fancy, there is a good interview with him here. And this too leaves me unable to write. I’d love to write a review of this book telling you how great it is and how you should read it, but I just don’t have the will, the energy, or the little voice whispering in my ear. But do read it. Or just read the interview in the link and look at his paintings.

Ok, let’s end on a summery pic.

mummified frog

mummified frog

Oh, and if this post is a little down, I’m blaming the MP’s.


Marina Hyde has written a spot-on article in The Guardian’s G2 supplement today highlighting the way celebrities hijack current news events just to get themselves in the papers; Atomic Kitten’s 9/11 trauma, Razorlight’s “brush with polonium 210, and so on. Heck, let’s be honest; we’ve all come close. I stood beneath the Twin Towers on my only visit to New York in 1994… if I’d just been 7 years later. oh,and only last week I had my lunch at Itsu. Bloomin’ heck I haven’t half diced with death. Read her article here and wonder at the people who exploit anything and everything to make themselves seem more interesting to those who couldn’t be less interested.

And now some former Big Brother contestants have jumped on the pig flu bandwagon. They caught it in Mexico. They haven’t been to see a doctor or anything, they just know they have it. Fools.

pigs

Mark E. Smith gets it right in his book Renegade. Having done my best to check whether you can quote others or not, I’m hoping this qualifies as “fair use”. If not and anyone (particularly Mr. Smith) is unhappy, I’ll remove it.

Things Like Big Brother I find very strange. Why should anyone want to watch somebody asleep at night? Now that’s weird.

… They asked me to replace Johnny Rotten on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. I’d never dream of doing anything like that. He must have been seriously broke to have even considered it. But that’s his business. Programmes like that remind me of wartime Russia when they’d make so-called subversive artists dig holes and plough fields. It’s very sad: every year at a certain time we get to have a laugh at celebrities who are skint or desperate or just simply mad.

…All of a sudden people are making money out of tittle-tattle – I’m talking about the Big Brother mindset here.

Ok, I’m skint, desperate and simply mad, so should I ever end up on such a show (ha!) please remember “it’s my business”.

me-with-pigAnyways, back to the pigs and the BB pig flu liars. Leave the pigs alone. Who knows what’s going on, and I can’t be bothered researching it, but if we are all going to die from pig flu I’m guessing we only have ourselves to blame. Whenever I get a cold or a flu-like thing, it usually follows a journey on a crowded tube. When we are all pushed together like… well, like battery farmed pigs… we’re bound to sneeze on each other. Let a lovely pig roam free, feed it something proper rather than causing it so much stress it tries to eat another pigs tail (this much is true; that’s why battery farmed pigs have their tails snipped off) and the chances are the pig would be healthier and flu free.

I’m not a doctor, but I am right.

Fake holiday

April 22, 2009

I’d like a holiday. I’m sure a bit of sun makes everyone think that. I’m not sure when I’ll get one. I’d like to say I’m too busy. Yes, that’s it! I’m too busy! But something inside me tells me I’m not too busy at all. Just too poor. Shut up you voice of truth. Let’s all go on a Fake Holiday!

Last year I ran away for four days to Sardinia. Today I’ve gone back there, in my head. I’m having a beer, a cigar, a coffee, a hat. I’m reading books, and just being.

The place is more colourful than when I last went there. More like a picture postcard from the sixties.

If you’d like a fake holiday, just have one. Feel free to share mine.

book-in-sardinia-2

book-in-sardinia-1

sardinia-town

Now join in with my whimsy.

I was off around London Town yesterday; a casting for a commercial. If you read my blog every now and then you may be familiar with how this goes for me. If not and you’d like to know, look here. This one was for a car commercial for Holland; to be filmed in Amsterdam. Great! It’d be like a mini holiday. For one day I could be a drug-taking sex tourist, who also nips into Anne Frank’s house.

I won’t get it. I had to wear a shirt and a tie and a jacket but not a suit. When I got there I was told I was an important man on his way to a meeting at the G20… yeah, that’s me. When the casting director commented on my long-haired slightly beardy look, I pointed out that the man who had gone in before me had a big beard. She told me it was because he is  appearing in a Russian play. I said I was writing one. She said “really?” I won’t get it.

So then I killed my day by wandering the streets, going to the pictures, going into cafes, pubs, and of course, the Trocadero. Still haunted, still a place of living ghosts and zombie kids. And Pasaje del Terror isn’t even open yet.

I saw my first film of the day in the Trocadero. Crank; High Voltage. This is the sequel to Crank, a film I haven’t seen. But I have seen Transporter 1 and 2, and here’s daft old me thinking the Crank ones would be more of the same. Well, in The Transporter films Jason Statham plays a man who says little and drives around a lot. He fights, he drives, he fights, he scowls, he drives, he fights… but there’s also a quiet, troubled side to him. And his best mate (if you can have mates in the existential world of fighting/driving/scowling movies) is a French cop who likes to cook. Oh, and all the ladies wander around in high heels and long coats, which they whip open to reveal guns in suspenders; you know the kind of thing. The Transporter films are half French half American, and somewhere along the way Luc Besson (Nikita, Leon, Angel-A) plays a part. They’re fun, sexy, violent, charming, action-packed (PeeWee), and, in a daft way that shouldn’t make sense in films where everyone dies the most brutal and imaginative death possible, their heart is in the right place.

In Crank; High Voltage, Jason Statham talks a lot and calls everyone a ****.

Still, it passed some time.

Though when I came out of the darkened cinema, to enter the darker Troc, it wasn’t even 2pm.

Good. Chance to get another film in at the pre-5pm cut price deal available to all those with nothing to do.

I wandered until 3.55pm. In and out of Fopp, in and out of a pub, in and out of a Japanese fast food place.

My second film was going to be either The Damned United or In the Loop. Well,  years ago I was offended by Armando Iannucci… Oh damn, I guess I can’t write that without going into it, and it’s all so absurd, and if he ever read this and saw it as a reason for not seeing his no doubt very funny and clever and good film, he would rightly think of me as a mad man, but I can’t help it. Things stick and eat away at my soul. Here goes… a crazy little story… true too…

Me and Trev walk through Soho. Outside a cafe sits Steve Coogan and Armando Iannucci. We’ve never met Armando, but we’ve met Steve often enough to say hello. And so we say hello. To both of them, but we don’t know Armando and he doesn’t know us. This and that gets said, and Steve asks what we’ve been up to. We say we recently did a gig where we had a few thousand students swinging  their pants and Armando says “that’s how Hitler started.”

Now, no doubt Armando was just trying to be funny and friendly (as I was with my misfired “writing a Russian play” line earlier). But I didn’t know how to react. I didn’t say anything, the remark hung there in the air, and a moment or so later we said goodbye and walked away.

To this day I fester over Armando’s Hitler comment. And if you think I’m joking, ask Trev. Trev by the way, is much more easygoing. I like all of Armando’s work, particularly The Day Today, all the Alan Partridge stuff and Time Trumpet. But Hitler never made people swing their pants. Did he? Am I like Hitler? For years I’ve pondered and fretted over this. And now, if someone shouts “swing your pants” to me in the street, rather than smiling lamely I lose the plot and bellow at them “Who do you think I am? Bloody Hitler?”

So, I pick The Damned United. A film where one man lets a perceived insult fester year after year (did Don Revie snub Brain Clough… did Don Revie say “that’s how Hitler started?”) Heck, I’m so mad (as in crazy, not angry) that I’ve made myself the anti-hero Clough to Armando’s thuggish Revie.

Go and see The Damned United. Even if you don’t like football. Even if you didn’t like Red Riding (by the same writer, David Peace). In fact, all the more reason to go. The Damned United makes Red Riding look like a murky brown thing that’s damp and smelly and should be put at the very back of a cupboard you’ll never go back to. The Damned United crackles with style, wit and fervour from the beginning; an exterior shot of the walls of Derby County Football club, windows in the wall where a press conference is taking place. Outside, the weather is hell, rain pouring down. But the lighting comes from within. The lightning flashes are cameras going off, photographing Cloughie. There is a greater charge in this room than anything God up in his clouds could muster.

Go and see The Damned United. Even if you don’t like football. It’s not about football (well, it is, but you know…) Like Peter Morgan’s other films (The Last King of Scotland, Frost/Nixon, The Deal, The Queen) it’s about battles and fights and love and, if not death, respect. Unlike the two way battles of Blair/Brown, Blair/Queen, Frost/Nixon, Idi Amin/Mr. Tumnus, this is a three way love/hate affair between Brian Clough, Peter Taylor and Don Revie. And even if Clough is sometimes what Jason Statham might call a ****, he’s a lovable one, and a forgivable one.

It’s a shame the Clough family are unhappy with this film. I can understand why, and if I was a member of the family I think I’d be furious with a film that takes great liberties with the truth about a dead relative. But I’m not. And if they can take any consolation, and I doubt they can, I came out of the film thinking of Brian Clough as a great and likeable man; a man who achieved great things. Sure, as hubristic as hell, but also a man who would get down on his knees and ask for forgiveness. Hubrism and humility; there’s a mix.

So, one more time, go and see The Damned United. If you do, I’ll go and see In the Loop.

thedamnedunited_wallpaper1_800