Monday, 19 August 2013


1) 'I write what I feel. I kind of think that if you don't write what you want then what's the point of writing? Sticking to conventions...I tried that and my writing stank,'

So says Tony Aycliffe, the writer character in the opening story, 'The First Day.' Like many people, I feel that I most definitely have a 'multi-layered,' personality - perhaps more than most, who knows!

My creation of Tony Aycliffe explores the small part of me that would love to DROP EVERYTHING and just WRITE (whether this would actually make somebody a better writer or not, is open to debate by the way - but i digress!).

His quote above of 'writing what you feel/not sticking to conventions' is something I very much believe in (so long as the writing in question is good! ;-)) and is certainly true of a story such as 'One More Hand' - which is taken almost entirely from dictaphone recordings, and explores three distinct, and very different, emotions: i) downtrodden/pissed off/irritated; ii) euphoric; iii) laid-back/going with the flow; all felt in a short period of time in Las Vegas.

This story doesn't really follow any so called 'short story conventions' that i know of, but - hopefully - it works on some level that readers can relate to.

2) The most common question asked to me about my book is: 'what is it like?/What writers is it similar to?' - I honestly don't know how to answer that question!

All I will say is that, to me, it is all about the writing: that is the writing ITSELF, and not so much the story. A great story helps of course! But to me, my favourite writers are ones that I can read and read and it doesn’t matter what they are writing about.
So I don’t really know ‘what writers I am like,’ but here is a list of some of my favourite Authors in no particular order.  Hopefully some of these genius writers have influenced and shaped my writing, even if it is just the tiniest bit! – Dostoyevsky, Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, Kafka, Salinger, Twain, Orwell, Richard Price, Douglas Coupland, Victor Hugo, Henry Miller, Cervantes, Bret Easton-Ellis, Steinbeck, Nathanael West, Hemingway, Martin Amis.
ENJOY!n't even matter what they are writing about.

So I don't really know 'what writers I am like', but here is a list of my favourite Authors in no particular order. Hopefully some of these genious writers have influenced and shaped my writing, even if it is just the tiniest bit! - Dostoyevsky, Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, Kafka, Salinger, Twain, Orwell, Richard Price, Douglas Coupland, Victor Hugo, Henry Miller, Cervantes, Bret Easton Ellis, Steinbeck, Nathanael West, Hemingway, Martin Amis.
n't even matter what they are writing about.

So I don't really know 'what writers I am like', but here is a list of my favourite Authors in no particular order. Hopefully some of these genious writers have influenced and shaped my writing, even if it is just the tiniest bit! - Dostoyevsky, Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, Kafka, Salinger, Twain, Orwell, Richard Price, Douglas Coupland, Victor Hugo, Henry Miller, Cervantes, Bret Easton Ellis, Steinbeck, Nathanael West, Hemingway, Martin Amis.ENJOYEE

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Excerpt from forthcoming work, set in July 1998 in Brighton - a follow-up to 'Another Late One'

I wake up in my brother’s lounge room and straining a glance across at the red digital display to my right I read “13:15”, which I soon realise means I have just had an unbroken thirteen-hour sleep.  I lie there staring up at the ceiling for a minute or so and then when I try to roll over onto my side I feel my whole body’s heaviness.  My head thumps repeatedly and I feel like I could vomit at any moment.  I feel absolutely horrendous and decide immediately that lying on my back and staring up at the ceiling will do for now.   I slowly begin to recall the events of the last few days and the flight back last night.  As I lie there, barely able to move, I have perhaps my first proper realisation that this needed to stop; I needed to calm down and take a break otherwise I would probably kill myself before long.  I’d also had enough of waking up on other people’s floors or in strange rooms I didn’t recognise.  I’d had enough.


    I was in The George and Dragon, down one of the narrow back streets of Brighton – one of our most common haunts for a night’s drinking.  It was cool in there; kind of like grungy and a little bit ‘sticky’ in places, but it had character, and a hell of a lot of stories to tell if it could’ve talked.  It had been a quiet and chilled one tonight; a few laughs, a few amusing tales told.  I looked at my watch at ten past ten and figured I’d probably have one more and call it a night.  Tomorrow was Thursday, which was usually more lively anyway, tended to be a bit madder; so I supposed that everyone would be feeling the same and say good night, same time tomorrow chaps.  Sophie had been busily texting now for about half an hour and I thought it a bit rude; but I knew what Soph was like so I wasn’t too bothered really, nor was I gonna bother her; it was her business.

    ‘So you seein’ that Russian bird again then Spots?’ enquired Terry over the general chatter.

    ‘Polish,’ corrected Spotty.

    ‘Polish…whatever; you been…err,’

    ‘Not really like,’ Spotty shrugged his shoulders.  I had heard something from Stace about Spotty and a foreign girl.

    ‘Ahhh, she sounded well nice,’ said Sophie sympathetically, though only taking a brief glance up at us from her phone, that she was still mid-texting in her lap.  Soph’s hair tonight was burgundy coloured and spiked up a little; quite refined by her standards.

    ‘When was this like?’ I asked.

    ‘Friday night,’ said Terry, pointing at Spotty across the table from him, ‘this lad somehow found his way into some foreign student night,’ he laughed, ‘what was the story again Spots?’ 

    Spotty was rolling himself a cigarette, which he then licked before sealing it deftly, ‘it’s my mate…he works with this Russian guy, Ukrainian or whatever.  We’d had a couple of spliffs, a few beers and we were at a loose end.  So my mate rings up this Russian…Ukrainian lad, and he’s at this private party in some club.  First off, can I just say it was a fucking long conversation they had on the phone; my god…’  I laughed, as did Terry at Spotty’s humourous way of putting things.  Tel was nodding and smiling broadly as if he’d already heard the story before, but was more than happy to sit through it again.  ‘I mean…it had been a good night anyway but he left me stood there freezing my nuts off;’ he tapped the cigarette down on the table top repetitively, ‘I was seriously going to leave him there…seriously; the guy was taking absolute liberties.’

    ‘It couldn’t have been that long,’ added Stace.

    ‘It was!  I kept signalling to him to hurry the fuck up.  It was Stuart,’ he looked to me now as I’d met Stuart before and I nodded in recognition, ‘you know how he goes on sometimes.’  I didn’t, but anyway.

    ‘Cut a long story short, he’s evidently trying to talk his way into this party, but he keeps having to repeat himself.  I mean, he keeps going over and over the same stuff – they kept seeming to agree everything but then he would repeat the same bit of the plan all over again – as if he couldn’t cope without knowing it off by heart or something.’

    ‘So get to the party bit,’ urges Bell.

    ‘I’m getting there, I’m getting there,’ he lights up the cigarette and Stace has lit up too next to me.  I would like one but I’m really trying to give up.  I am tempted anyhow but concentrate on the story, hoping the urge will go away.

    ‘So we get there and even after all the planning and the endless conversation, we get to the club – which I swear, I know Brighton like the back of my hand but I ain’t never been down this street before, but anyway – we get there and Stu starts moaning and gesticulating wildly – right outside the club – that Alex (that’s the Russian’s name) should be there to meet us; “he should be fucking out here,” he’s gesturing, “where the fuck is he?”’ Spotty is miming the actions and the serious, angry look on his face brings out giggles around the table.  ‘So I’m looking at Stuey,’ he continues, his eyes flicking around the table at all of us, ‘about to tell him, “look it’s not really the end of the world like, maybe it’s not meant to be,” when I notice these two great big doormen looking at us.  I mean, they are big.  One of ‘em’s got this great big Mars Bar down his cheek and he’s wearing this tight black jacket and he looks like some evil Bosnian straight out of the fuckin’ KGB or something,’ I have to put my beer down as I nearly slop it everywhere laughing; everyone is laughing, ‘so I’m trying to signal to Stuart, trying to somehow say with my eyes: “look mate, there’s two great big evil bastards over there who are looking at us as if they want to kill us,” but then this tall bloke comes out of the club and chats briefly to one of the doormen; Stuey spots him and I work out it must be Alex, ‘cos Stu starts to walk towards him at the door.  He walks up there with all the confidence in the world, as if he’s just going to walk straight into the club, never mind the doormen.  I’m shaking my head at this point thinking, “Do I want to just leave now?  Do I really want to show that I have any association with this bloke?”  As I amble towards the door anyway, both doormen put an arm out to stop Stuey, but the guy’s got the crust to look up in surprise at this point, as if he has genuinely just noticed these two big bastards stood there!’

    I have finished my drink now and really want another one.  It’ll be last orders soon and I really want a big double but I’m not going to the bar just yet, I need to hear the rest of the story.

    ‘They’re looking at him like there’s NO CHANCE he’s getting in there; “this is party,” says the one bouncer in a thick Eastern European accent, shaking his head, “students only,” he adds, “are you student?” Obviously we’re not but then Alex is speaking to them and I’m so impressed at how calm he is and he even gives me a smile and a wink as he’s talking.  It’s at this point that I think, “he’s going to get us in here, there really isn’t a problem,” and I quicken my step as I sense the bouncers weakening and the next thing I know we’re being welcomed in – but even then Stuart tries to give the Bouncers a dirty look as he walks past them into the club.  Unbelievable!’

    Everyone is loving the story and I realise how much I adore nights like these when the vibe is good and the drink is flowing.  There is a pause as Terry offers everyone another drink and –of course – everybody accepts.  As I am at the bar helping Tel with the order I hear Stace ask ‘Where’s Caine tonight?’ and Bell answers that he spoke to him a few hours ago and that he sounded completely wasted and that he was probably having trouble moving from his couch.  It was a familiar story.  ‘Carry on then,’ said Terry, laying the last of the drinks down on the already cluttered table, full of empty glasses and bottles.

    ‘So anyway,’ Spotty laughs quickly, smiling from ear to ear and shaking his head with a far off look in his eyes, ‘it’s a crazy night.  Half the girls in there…well half the people in fact, seem to be wearing these tall, curly wigs, like white or red or yellow and people are dressed up like I don’t know what.  I could’ve just stood there looking at people and that would’ve constituted a good night, I’m telling you.  It was like some fucked up Rocky Horror Show stroke Elvira stroke Barry Lyndon theme party or something; but there were some seriously fit girls in there; sorry,’ he gestured to Stace and Sophie as if to apologise for offending them.  As if!  They’d heard it all and more from us over the years.

    ‘Don’t worry about that,’ answered Soph, her phone in her pocket now and glowing with enthusiasm for the story as she always did, ‘carry on love!’

    ‘And I’m getting some really mixed looks and I don’t know why,’ Spotty continued, ‘I mean, I guess I was over-casual for such a night but I figured it kind of worked in a strange way…perhaps…I don’t know,’ he shook his head again, ‘so then Stu introduces me to Alex and then we’re at this big table with about seven blokes and two girls plus me and Stuey and everyone’s smoking and chatting closely into each other’s ears, but there was a nice atmosphere in there – kind of friendly, but cool at the same time.  I look around and there’s some girls dancing, two of these girls with the wigs…and I don’t know why – I haven’t danced all night and rarely do I ever dance come to that, but I instinctively get up and start fuckin’ boogying.  I don’t even know what the song is, but before I know it this girl is chatting to me like she’s dead interested and it turns out she’s from Poland and where am I from?  I think she knew I was English – surely she did – but I thought at the time she was expecting me to say the Czech Republic or Hungary or something.  Anyway, I’m really getting on with this girl and I’m starting to feel a real vibe happening, but then Alex is up on the dance floor talking to me, right close to my ear;

    “You like this girl?” he’s asking – and I don’t know what he means by it!  You know how Russians – or Ukrainians or whatever he is – you know how they talk sometimes if you’re not used to it?  To me he sounded almost threatening, so I’m thinking, “Shit, this is his fucking girlfriend” and I’m terrified he’s going to take me out; but then he grabs my neck and back of my shoulder, like in a really strong grip and he says almost in to my ear now, “this is nice girl, you hear me?”  I am still trying to dance opposite her at this point; I mean I’m thinking: “I like you Alex, but firstly I can SEE she’s a nice girl – I’d worked that bit out – and secondly, I kind of seemed to be doing alright without you matey,” but all I say is, “yea, yea,” or something dumb like that and then there’s a crowd dancing with us and the moment is lost; soon after that the girl disappears.’

    ‘Oh no, so what happened?’ asked Soph, excitedly sitting up and clapping her hands together.

    ‘No it was alright man!’ he exclaimed with a broad grin on his face, ‘I met her at the bar about fifteen minutes later.  I don’t know where she’d been, but we start…you know…at the bar and then at the end of the night she came back to mine.’

    ‘Good work sunshine,’ I smiled, ‘so was it worth it?’

    ‘Aye it were a good shag,’ he said.  Everyone laughed.  Spotty’s Yorkshire accent, where he was originally from, coming to the fore as it occasionally did.

    ‘Tell them what you were telling me yesterday,’ urged Terry, beaming.

    ‘What’s that?’

    ‘About, you know, the apparent boyfriend and stuff,’

    ‘Oh right; well we’re back at mine and…well, we’d done it…and then we’re lying in bed and Eva – that’s her name – starts going on about how her boyfriend doesn’t do this and doesn’t do that.  So I ask “where was your boyfriend tonight?” thinking that he could’ve been at the party and I could be in a spot of bother like, but she says, “Dusseldorf,” and laughs and I laugh too.’  He sighs and looks off dreamily for just a moment, ‘but…I don’t think anything else is gonna happen with her.’

    ‘But I thought you said she was nice?’ Stace said before taking a slug of her drink; she appeared to be quite drunk.      

    ‘Yea she is…oh I dunno!’ he put his drink down on the table, not without feeling, ‘it’s always the wrong bird at the wrong time…’


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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Excerpts from 'BIG MAN & Other Stories'

The First Day:

    ‘You have to make tough decisions in life, but you should never lose sight of what your ultimate goal is.’  He was looking at me now, and I realised what a friendly face he had.   

    ‘Why are so many people content to plod through life?  I did it for a while, I must admit, but I realised it wasn’t for me.’


Do We Leave Him Here? (or 'Dead Weight'):

‘Do we leave him here?’ asked Jerry. 

    I laughed loudly.  Big Gary had been slumped on the table for almost an hour now, passed out.

    ‘Leave him here?  How would you like that if it was you?’ answered Pete.

    ‘Yea but…’

    ‘Leave him here…’ Pete muttered laughing wryly and shaking his head.


    ‘We’re in a foreign country!’ I snapped angrily, ‘Do you think he wants to be woken up at six o’clock tomorrow morning by some Turkish trucker?’

    ‘Yea…or robbed,’ added Pete


    ‘Okay okay, I get the picture.’ Jerry scraped his chair in noisily.


An Affair:

    She was mesmerised now; she couldn’t have told you how long she stood watching him, but she couldn’t take her eyes away – loving the way he moved; his cool, casual air.  She imagined the way he smelled, the way he looked and remembered the way she’d went nearly breathless the first time he had held her in his arms.


Big Man:

    A tear rolled down Toby’s right cheek and he hurriedly wiped it away with the back of his hand, then looked round nervously to see if the old man had noticed.  He turned and walked back by Toby at that moment so he quickly wiped his face and eyes with both hands this time, determined to get all signs of the tear out of sight.  The headmaster was sitting down again.

    ‘You’d better hope…’

    Toby looked at him briefly before looking down again to where he had been looking before.

    ‘You’d better hope, that Brian is okay…comes back as normal, otherwise…well, I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.’

    Toby’s eyes almost ran again, but he was determined not to cry in front of old Morris.

    ‘Get yourself along to your next lesson Toby.’

    Toby looked up, able to hold Sir’s gaze this time.  When he got up to leave he couldn’t feel his legs properly, they felt like jelly and he couldn’t feel them fully as he walked.

    ‘And Toby?’

    The boy turned round and saw Sir again; he looked bigger and more imposing to him somehow, seemed to be almost staring into him.

    ‘These are your friends.’


One More Hand:

I’m mentally exhausted…had it up to here with Vegas and Blackjack and chasing money and trying to think of what to do, what to bet.  It seems like in this god forsaken place everything is against you…not only have you got the odds against you, but you’ve got clueless players coming in and out of the game, you’ve got dealers who can’t wait to pull the next card, not giving you any time to concentrate…you’ve got all the noise distracting you – not allowing you to focus…you’ve got the sheer, overpowering size of this place…’


Best Man:

    I remember the first five minutes being pleasant enough, but as the drinks started to flow, Debbie seemed to be griping about everything and answering Tony back rudely whenever he dared to speak.  I recall at one point early in the meal staring out across the Strip and realising that the view was different from what it had been when I’d first sat down.  I tried to concentrate my mind – thinking perhaps that I might be losing it completely – but as I stared across the table and out through the windows, I realised that the restaurant was ever so slowly revolving!

        ‘Yea we’re movin’’ said a middle-aged American man on the next table to us, sat with his family, ‘isn’t it neat?’

    As if my head wasn’t battered enough already.


The Real Mrs. Docherty:

    ‘Do you want to take a walk for a while Mrs. Docherty?  You can always come back, and we’ll tell you immediately if there’s any change.’

    Marie looks up to the nurse then, wide-eyed, as if aware of her for the first time.

    ‘Yes…yes…okay,’ she looks back to her husband on the bed, her hand still clasped in his – loosely now – but she can’t let go somehow, as if letting go of his hand was to let go of everything they had.

    ‘In a moment nurse…I’ll just stay here…’ she finishes speaking in mid-sentence, then the nurse rubs the top of her back gently.

    ‘Okay,’ the nurse says softly, ‘but take a break soon, it will do you good.’

    The nurse leaves the room and Marie suddenly feels more alone than she’s ever felt in her whole life.  She struggles to get a tissue from her bag, as she breaks out into sudden, full sobs of pain and misery.


A Girl Called Fran:

As the biggest of the rubbery-looking creatures made a sudden lurch in the direction of the small bunch ahead of Nick, there was a shriek and then a blonde girl flung her arms in the air and ran away, high stepping in the sand.  He looked at the girl closely as the others laughed and edged back too; with her quite tall height and slimmish figure she ought to have been quite athletic, but she seemed clumsy and ungainly as she got a further twenty metres away from the Sea Lions before daring to look round.  She wore a white bobble hat with fluffy pom-poms hanging down at the side, which had been swinging about frenetically as she ran.  She was flushing all over her face as she quickly adjusted her jeans, a big joyous smile on her face.

    ‘Oh don’t pick on me!’ she shouted, as the guide laughed at her, along with the others.  She was laughing too, albeit still red and embarrassed and Nick realised that he hadn’t taken his eyes away from her during the whole incident.


Another Late One:

My name is Cockney, except that’s not my real name.  In fact, sometimes I forget my real name, and so do my friends.  I’m also not a Cockney.

    I’m a real easygoing guy, I mean, excessively so; I seem to have a problem saying no to anything.  I let any number of people stay at my house anytime and everybody borrows things from me, some of which I actually get back. 
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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Why i hate the latest Betfair Advert

In a perfect world, people that love sport would watch it purely for enjoyment or for the way it makes them FEEL.  To those that don’t understand or like sport this is difficult to describe – but it’s the way I feel about the Champions League and what used to be known as the European Cup: a buzz, an inner feeling that something magical or incredible may be about to happen.  But with the influx in recent years of the internet, the temptation to gamble on the sports we love (or any sport for that matter) is more constant than it has ever been: from Bet 365’s Ray Winstone almost sinisterly imploring us to ‘Bet in-play…now,’ to the often hilarious Chris Kamara / Tiziano Crudeli ads for Ladbrokes, there is literally no escaping the constant urge to make sport ‘more interesting’ by staking some of your hard-earned money on it.

Even on Facebook recently, I listed my ‘Favourite Sports Teams’, amongst other things, as something to enhance my homepage.  Little did I know that a well-known Gambling Site would use this information to offer me a free £10 bet on Watford FC (my team) on my HOME page, complete with a link.  I didn’t input my information for this reason.  I did it to let people know what Sports Teams I support, and to get a bit of my beloved Watford on my page.  So what if I happened to be a recovering Gambling addict?  Would it be fair to show me these constant reminders – on a website that has nothing to do with Gambling – that a bet is just a click away?  It is getting too much in my opinion – the people that want to bet will find a way to, regardless of the advertising; but for a recovering addict who is trying to do anything to take his mind off Gambling, or someone on the edge, who thinks he or she may have the beginnings of a problem, these types of links and offers can be dangerous.

Personally, I only gamble online and only on certain sports, certain events.  My site of choice is Betfair, a site that allows you, on their Betting Exchange, to Back or ‘Lay’ (backing against something, e.g. backing a certain team NOT to win) against another Betfair user who wants to stake on the OPPOSITE result.  This has always seemed like a much more sensible way to gamble to me: after all, now I didn’t have to ‘beat the odds’ that the Betting Site had set, I just needed to be smarter than another gambler.  (This also makes very sound and reliable business sense from Betfair’s point of view too - because now for every winner on their exchange there is also a loser; they make their profits not from those customers that lose, but from the 5% commission they take from every win).
    And then there is ‘in-play’ betting.  The great thing about this fairly new innovation is that now you can win money by NEVER BEING RIGHT.  Yes, you read that correctly: you can win by just putting on the right bets at the appropriate time, and you can come away a winner, no matter what the outcome is.
    This is where the latest Betfair advert comes in.

 Betfair, like all popular Betting Sites and Shops in the UK, promote ‘responsible gambling.’  This means that they encourage Gambling only for fun, for leisure, and only with money you can afford to lose; that they supply information for those who think they may have a gambling problem, and to direct them to the appropriate help should they need it – such as through Gamcare or Gamblers Anonymous.  This is why I am completely dumbfounded as to what Betfair have done with their latest advert – that the main protagonist, to me (and I have many years’ experience of working in the Gaming industry), shows many of the traits of a problem gambler, and Betfair themselves, through the way they have shot the advert, seem completely cool with this.
    The advertisement starts with a ‘regular’ guy in the pub: a snippet of Clive Tyldesley commentary tells the viewer that a football match involving Manchester United is on the TV.  Our man’s fingers drum nervously on the table as he reaches for his phone to look at Betfair’s latest in-play odds of the match he is watching.  For a start, there is something about betting on your phone when you’re ‘out and about’ that smacks of a dependence on Gambling, in my opinion; but that’s another story.
    ‘You’ve backed United to win,’ says the voice-over after the TV commentary has informed us that they lead 3-1; ‘do you cash out?’ the voice teases us, ‘or don’t you?’ 
    On closer inspection, the cash-out option is offering our man a £7.18 profit on a £20.00 bet, when the maximum he is hoping to win is £8.00 if he doesn’t cash out (and if United win); he decides not to cash out, as the camera cuts to his anxious-looking, staring eyes.
    As Everton (Man. United’s opponents) pull a goal back to make it 3-2, he runs his hands through his hair; again, we get the ‘Do you / Don’t you?’ voice-over.  As United put another away to restore their two-goal cushion, the scene cuts back to the crowd of people watching the game, and although everybody else in the pub seems to be enjoying the game, our Betfair Gambler’s enjoyment looks strained.  We see a close-up of the nervous look on his face and the sweat building on his brow; we get a thumping heartbeat sound effect, indicating his increased stress, tension and anxiety.
    As his finger hovers over the Cash Out option again (showing the same option to take a £7.18 profit), I’m thinking: surely if the stress is THAT GREAT, you would take the guaranteed profit at this point – is eighty-two pence really worth getting uptight about – especially when you could be enjoying the game and a relaxing beer with your friends?   But obviously, he doesn’t.
    Then, at 4-3, the camera points down at him, seeming to focus on him alone, indicating – to me at least – that this is how he feels: alone in the world.  All this to the repeated thumping heartbeat.  Now he DOES decide to Cash out, for the lesser profit of £4.35, from his £20.00 bet (rather than running the risk of losing his whole £20.00 should Everton equalise).
    As he cashes out, it is worth noting that the director decides to show this part with the pub completely deserted but for him; I have no idea what this is supposed to signify, other than – once again – that he is all alone in more ways than one.  When, inevitably, Everton do equalise to show us that his Cash out was wise (this was the genuine Premier league match from the back end of the 2011-12 season that ended 4-4), his buddies on either side of him don’t seem too impressed, but he has a little fist clenching celebration to himself; to me this indicates, not for the first time in this ad, that Gambling online is a solitary hobby, rather than a social one – for although he is able to punt at the pub, nobody is sharing in his pain and joy.
    My point is this: that with the increased popularity of Sports Gambling, online and otherwise, this will inevitably lead to an increased number of addicts.  This is NOT a nice situation to be in.  It is one that can wreck lives, cause severe depression and desperateness.  I appreciate that a very high percentage of people DO enjoy a punt purely for the fun of it, or bet because they have a ‘fancy’ for a certain team on a particular day.  Those people do not usually get into this situation; but Betfair, and other Gambling companies, if they are genuinely going to take an interest in the wellbeing of their customers, need to take a look at how they promote, and advertise their sites and services.  There is a fine line between caring for your customers or coming across as hypocritical. 
    This advert, when you get down to it, is one that does not show a customer having a pleasant Gambling experience.

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Thursday, 20 December 2012

An Amusing Scene in the Library

A few days ago I was at the main library in the nearest city to where I lived; I didn’t have the internet at home so I was planning to use the web for an hour.  The library was busy so I had to pre-book – I got given my computer number and the time allocated for me to use it which was around forty minutes away at 4.15pm.  To kill time I perused the bookshelves then sat and read a newspaper; when the time got near I climbed the stairs to the first floor where the computers were.

    I made my way over to my terminal and the monitor read: ‘Time left: 2 minutes, 7 seconds’ in large white figures and it was counting down each second.  I would just have to wait another couple of minutes.  Sitting right in front of the computer, side-on to it and facing each other, were a couple, probably in their late-sixties.  They were extremely grim and dirty-looking.  The man was wearing a thick grey jumper and warm-looking green coat even though we were indoors and it was a sunny and warm day.  The few hairs he had clinging to the top of his head were dark and extremely greasy-looking; they were swept back to the top of the back of his head into a kind of knot but then the hair spread out again to the lower part of his head – but instead of naturally flowing down to a stop or being neatly trimmed, it stopped in a sharp square well short of his neck.  He looked utterly ridiculous.  The woman, who was sitting directly in front of my monitor, was extremely fat and ugly-looking with thick, tape-repaired glasses.  She had a few warts on her face and single grey hairs sprouting out from under her nose and on her chin.  They clearly weren’t using the computer but I wasn’t going to move them out of the way until the time ran out; but then, as it got to under a minute to my turn the woman delved into a Tesco carrier bag and pulled out some sandwiches wrapped in cling-film.  She passed one to her partner, opened one herself and started taking big hungry mouthfuls.

    When the countdown on the monitor got to zero it was exactly 4.15 and ‘RESERVED’ appeared on the screen.  I approached the couple and told the woman that I needed to use the computer; she just grunted, barely appearing to register me, and pointed at the screen with a mouthful of sandwich – bringing my attention to the word ‘RESERVED’.

    ‘Yes, reserved for me!’ I exclaimed.

    She grunted again and then in no particular hurry, they gathered their stuff together and disgruntledly and very slowly left the spot – her face seemed to say: “what a pain in the arse you are, could you not use a different computer?” 
    I pulled a chair to the screen and sat down to start my session, greeted by a sharp smell of dirt and body odour.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


I awoke to people murmuring and fidgeting about; one or two people were sitting up bleary-eyed with straggly “bed-hair”. The thing that struck me straight away was how cold it was in the room. It was probably as close to freezing as it could possibly be, indoors. I pulled my meagre bedcover and blanket around myself and curled up in a futile effort to get warm.
   As more and more people got up I felt as though I really ought to make a move to get up soon, but I felt so lethargic and so cold; I really wasn’t cut out for early mornings. I then noticed the Irish lad, Richard in the top bunk across the room, sitting up mumbling under his breath. We looked at each other and said our good mornings.
   ‘I really need to get up at some point,’ I said, still wrapped in my covers, my teeth chattering.
   ‘I tell you one thing we need’, said Richard in his strong Irish accent, not moving from his sitting up position; ‘a fecking heater!’

   I think I may have been the last of the twenty into the shower that morning. As I made my way there, Richard was coming back the other way, his hair soaking wet and looking white in the face; he was visibly shaking and tight from the cold.
‘Nice shower?’ I enquired.
‘Jesus…you wouldn’t get this for fecking murder,’ he said, ‘I’ve never been so fecking cold in all me life,’ before his walk quickened back to the room.
   I then endured less than five minutes of freezing cold water that supposedly went under the guise of a shower.