Friday, 30 November 2007

Sleazy does it...Part 2

The Metropolitan Police are expected to begin examining evidence about secret donations to the Labour Party after being asked to investigate by the electoral commission.

This has come about because the Labour party received more than £650,000 from one man (David Abrahams) via a series of middlemen which is against the law.

Gordon Brown has since said that the donations will be returned – well he would wouldn’t he, didn’t seem to bother him before the papers got hold of the story though did it?

They’re all coming out of the woodwork now as well :-

Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain has said he failed to register a £5,000 deputy leadership campaign donation, blaming an "administrative error".
Harriet Harman accepted a £5,000 donation from one of the middlemen (Janet Kidd) during the deputy leadership race she eventually won.

Ms Harman said she had no idea the money really came from Mr Abrahams, and had accepted it on the basis that Mrs Kidd was a known Labour donor. She said she acted in "good faith".
Now as we all know the Metropolitan Police has just completed the 19-month, £1.4m "cash-for-honours" investigation into party funding. That inquiry, which cast a shadow over Tony Blair's final months as prime minister, ended with no charges being brought – fuck me, imagine that!!
And now the police are set to begin the second inquiry into the Labour party's finances in two years. They will attempt to determine who knew about the money being channelled to the party through proxy donors, and who broke the law.

This is the second time in the history of our country that a serving Prime Minister has been involved in a police investigation – both of these occasions have happened over the last ten years and both have involved only one party.

Co-incidentally, at the same time, the country has gone to rack and ruin and is now divided into the haves (who live in Ivory Towers surrounded by armed guards and coppers well away from the sink estates they’ve created) and the have-nots (who live in amongst the yobs, hooligans and scum that never have to face to up to the consequences of their actions in case it infringes their human rights).

This country’s fucked.

Happy Friday!!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Sleazy does it...

Here’s a couple of facts for you all:-

The labour party admitted yesterday that they’d been receiving donations from a man who had persuaded three other people to pretend they were from them.

The man in question – David Abrahams donated a total of £600,000 Using these stooges

Under the law, those making donations on behalf of others must give details of who is providing the money.

Now the above is all factual – If I was to suggest there’d been some kind of cover up in order to protect the government from accusations of being corrupt then that would just be my opinion.

In fact If I was to go as far as to suggest that if, in my opinion, our leaders were bent enough to do this knowing there’d be no consequences for them then what else are they doing that we don’t, and never will, know about?

They’re just my opinions – what’s yours?

Lie, Damned Lies and Spin...

Some of the more sharp eyed amongst you may have noticed that my 'wanker of the week' post hasn't changed for a few weeks - that's because I loathe politicians more every day and basically haven't had anyone else to beat them in the wanker stakes.

So it won't be changing this week either.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

My new website...

There has been a momentous occurence here at Fasthands towers over the last few days - I am not only the proud owner of an award winning blog* but have now twinned this with my own bona-fide website.

I've decided to present a more professional image to the world of publishing and allow them easier access to samples of my work rather than them having to wade through the abuse and profanity that reverberates around my little blog here.

The link to my website is : -

Now remember this blog was my first ever foray into the twenty first century and as such is still my baby so don't worryabout it disappearing as I spend more time on my new site. Keep checking it out and I'll keep posting but if you're interested, have a look at my site and make sure you spread the word(and the link).

2008 could well be the chinese year of the Fasthands!

*winner of 'best blog in our house award' 2007

Friday, 23 November 2007

Toot and come in...

I had a big day out in 'The Smoke' yesterday, this started with bubbly at the champagne bar in the new St. Pancras International railway station. very salubrious but at £7.50 per glass I wasn't getting pissed!

From there it was onto my real reason for visiting Landan, the Tutankhamun exhibition - which was good but a bit crowded (bloody tourists - this is my country I should be first!!) meaning that you couldn't spend too long looking at the exhibits.

I then had a pint or two in Covent Garden before being fleeced by 'Maxwells' for some food - honestly I felt violated when I came out - not going there again.

This was followed by a wander up Regent Street to look at the lights (which are shit) and then a casual stroll down Bond Street where I happened upon the switching on ceremony for their lights. This was delightfully old-fashioned with fake snow being blown out of every upstairs window into the street and jugglers and stalls etc lining the whole place - very good.

The lights themselves were switched on by Sophie Dahl, who is a very striking and pretty girl in the flesh, much more so than her picture would normally suggest.

Then, to finish off before getting the late train back to Hicksville, Oxfordshire I took in a comedy show that was situated in the basement of the Thistle Hotel just off Leicester Square, there was one comedian for about an hour and a half and he was very good. His name was Inkey (no I hadn't either) and apparently he's a warm up man for Frank Skinner, if you get the chance check him out.

So that was it - all in all a good, albeit expensive, day out.

Final thoughts on our nations capital - It's like a smaller, dirtier version of Newcastle!

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Mad Darren - Terrace Legend.

There are frequent accusations that football these days has sold its soul, that formerly noisy tribal bearpits have become sanitised shadows of their old selves and that baying, committed supporters have become demanding, fickle consumers. I agree with all of that to a certain extent, as I think many supporters, whatever their affiliations, of a certain age would.

With this in mind a group of like minded supporters set up the Toon Ultras in a bid to bring back the noise at St. James. It’s a worthy aim and I for one hope it succeeds as it seems to me that grounds these days are sterile, americanised enviroments where the main aim is to extract as much cash from the fan/consumer as possible.

But…It wasn’t always like that. Back in the eighties St. James Park was a crumbling, old fashioned relic of days gone by. The two main ends were uncovered, seats were a luxury and the toilets were unspeakably bad. The catering would give you botulism, the turnstile operators were bent and todays Health and safety police would have a seizure if they witnessed the steps you went up to get to the terraces.

And do you know what…we fucking loved it.

The home end then was the Gallowgate End and all the boys massed up behind the goal there in one of two sections, The Corner or the Scoreboard. On slow days when the opposition didn’t bring many fans we’d amuse ourselves by taunting the residents of whichever section we weren’t in and proclaiming our superiority over them. The Scoreboard was so named because of the giant, subbutteo style scoreboard that was erected above the terracing and was visible from all areas of the ground. This used to be climbed by ‘over-enthusiastic’ fans and the letters re-arranged on the rivals teams section to read something abusive.

The amount of times we played ‘C U NT S’, ‘W A N KE R S’ and, ‘B A S T A R D S’ were too numerous to mention but it was very funny, no matter how many times you saw it.

The Corner, so named because it was the corner of the end and led onto the East Stand had a flag planted right at the top of the terracing and just along from it was little hot dog stand that was robbed left right and centre every other week. It tended to be the preserve of ‘blokes’, thickly muscled gadgies who had graduated from from their teen years in the scoreboard section and held us teenage youngsters in amused disdain. Shaking their heads at us… like you do a drunken nephew who’s just made a play for the local bike.

To stand on the Gallowgate End on a sunny day, full of beer with thousands of other like minded souls was nearly as good as it got. If the toon were winning or even just playing well then your day was complete.

If it was all going wrong though, if you were on the open terracing in the rain and we were getting a hiding you could always rely on one man.

Mad Darren lived and breathed Newcastle United. You could travel to any game, on any day, in any part of the country and he’d be there. He was the type of bloke who planned his life around the fixture list and, once he was at the game, put his heart and soul into it.

I didn’t know him to talk to; I didn’t even know his real name. I just knew he was Mad Darren and I knew who he was, that was enough. You’d have some beer before the match, get through the turnstile and hurry up the steps; maybe stopping halfway up for a swim in the Gallowgate bogs, then the singing would make you run the last few steps to get in amongst it. You’d hit the scoreboard end and there he’d be, stood on a barrier, swaying drunkenly with the undulations of the crowd around him and you’d join them singing lustily as Darren kept all the terrace favourites rolling off the tongue.

To hit a strange town on a dark wintry Saturday or a wet Wednesday night, knowing you’d probably get beat and the locals would be quite keen on re-arranging your face was a daunting task. Sometimes just getting in a bar, having a few pints and then getting to the ground without having to do your Rocky impression was like mission impossible.

But… getting into the match, counting up your fellow travellers in the gloom all the while being taunted by the pig fuckers from whichever crap little town you were in was made worthwhile when, a familiar looking figure staggered onto a barrier and proclaimed he was proud to be a geordie. You knew then it’d be alright and you’d laugh about it later, in fact you might even write a book about it much later!

Mad Darren probably single handedly kept many of us interested during the late eighties, he was probably responsible for imbuing in many of us the terrace culture and the love of making a day of it following the mags.

Sadly, he died in 1989 in London following Newcastle at Wimbledon, there was a scuffle with some Wigan Rugby League fans, and while the circumstances aren’t fully known, the story at the time was that they were mob handed and he was alone. It was a sad end to a young life but, trite as this may sound, he had died as he lived – following his beloved Mags.

No book about Newcastle United would be complete without a tribute To Mad Darren, I was proud to know him, however indirectly, and believe that in a few short years he influenced the lives of more people than many of us will ever meet.

He was the original Toon Ultra.

Monday, 19 November 2007

That one's got Lazyitis...


For years I have had to put up with accusations of idleness and being a lazy bastard - well no more!!

I had a company medical on Friday and, as well as being pronounced fit - yes I am 'Fit' and it's official, it was noticed that I had low blood pressure.

Now this in itself is a good thing, I'll probably never die of anything stress related for instance, but apparently a side effect of this is Lethargy.

So, it appears I am not in fact a lazy, idle, good for nothing but a brave sufferer of a condition I never talk about.

So remember when I don't post anything for a few days - I'm not being lazy I'm Lethargic!!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

A Publishers View...

I've got a mate who works in publishing, not the kind that I'm banging on the front door of armed only with a manuscript and a manic look in my eye, but a publisher all the same.

I asked him to give my synopsis for 'Magpie Ranger' the once over and he very kindly did so, giving me a few insights into the commercial world of selling books at the same time. Here's what he said...


Firstly, a question: Is this a work in progress, or do you have a finished draft?

If it is finished, I'd like to read it. But equally understand if you headbutt me to the ground and tell me to 'feck off'. I haven't got kids, but do know the feeling of handing over a manuscript to a stranger - and imagine it is akin to leaving your kids with babysitters you've never met. 'We'll be back about midnight, Myra. Tell Ian to help himself to biscuits...'

In truth, it's difficult to provide any feedback of any depth (or use) from a synopsis. But I like the idea. I'd read it. The core elements are strong, it has regional appeal (both a good and bad thing, but I'll get onto that) and I think the juxtaposition between real sorrow (the death of a friend) and the more superficial sorrow (Toon) would provide real pathos. Plus, the Geordie-ness and humour would keep the dialogue snappy and light.

In terms of getting it published, there are certain hoops that you have to jump through - for every editorial decision a publisher makes, he makes 10 commercial ones.

So I've included below the issues that a publisher/ agent is likely to raise/ consider - some I agree with, some I don't, some are bullshit, some are valid. But all you should be aware of.

* Regional appeal - although this is often a positive, a publisher might be concerned that it will limit the market. The title for example, would be changed. If Fever Pitch had been called Love Life of a Gooner, it would've died on its arse-nal.
* Class appeal - again, this can be a real strength. But worries some publishers (and editors), who will try to re-package the working classes in a particular 'saleable' way, because...
* Publishers are obsessed with 'theme'. This should be as timeless/ classless/ ageless as possible - even if it is a period piece (capturing the 70s, 80 and 90s well could be a real strength, ain't nothing as contemporary as retro!). They also love 'an eternal truth' - which in this case, will sink in during the train ride south.
* Also, a strong narrative is important. When any manuscript is being considered for publication, the ‘rule’ for editors is to ask (as a reader) ‘why am I reading this?’ on every page. They will look for good characterisation and conflict to keep readers engaged.

And a ‘twist’ is always a hook. This can be subtle – say, for example, in the end you change your mind about publishing The Last Match. The fact that you’ve written it, is the end of the journey.

Be prepared for it to be chopped to bits too – in order to follow the rules, publishers/ editors will want to re-structure, cut out characters, add characters, even change the settings… ‘Love your work, Mr Rivers, love it. But this Newcastle that you speak of…. could this be Notting Hill? And instead of football, perhaps – amateur dramatics…?’ Their vision will never quite match yours.

Just from the synopsis – and this is just an opinion – I can see a publisher suggesting the book starts and ends with that train journey South (there is a natural correlation between the actual journey and personal journey). It’s also a classic flashback format, that clearly defines the periods, will allow you to dip in and out of the story and tie up the ‘eternal truth’ up at the end.

Or, it lends itself to each chapter be focused on, or at least starting with, a match (book-ended by introduction and epilogue chapters).

This is the difference between story and plot – which is key to novel writing. Tolstoy said that characters + conflict = plot.

I prefer to think of a story is a timeline of events – prompting no questions, or involvement. But a plot provides depth.

A bad example:

‘A man died, then a woman died.’ That’s a story.
‘A man died, then his wife was so distraught she committed suicide.’ That’s a plot.

And what did Tolstoy ever do, eh?

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Magpie Ranger - First Draft Extract

Here's an extract from 'Magpie Ranger - A life in black and white' - it's a first draft and it's rough but you should get the gist.

Let me know what you think.

Growing Pains

Ever heard of David Robinson? No? Well let me illustrate the difference between how good professional footballers actually are and, despite what we all claim in the pub after another nil – nil draw, why we could never be one. In 1981 I moved on to Benfield Comprehensive school in the East End of Newcastle, most lads from Welly Road went on to Walker School but I ended up at Benner. It had a good reputation then, I don’t know about now but it was well thought of back then in the days of only three television channels. The school has spawned a handful of pro footballers in it’s time, the likes of Steve Bruce (Man Utd through and through no matter what he claims), Lee Clark, Dave Roach and David Robinson to name a few from the top of my head. You’ll have heard of Bruce and Clark, Roachy played quite a few times in the first team under Ossie Ardiles before Keegan moved him on and Robinson? Well, he played once in the first team under Jim Smith before dropping down the divisions (and bear in mind, when he played for us we were shite) and the general consensus on the Gallowgate end was that he just wasn’t good enough for us at a time when we were a second division team.

I agreed loudly and vociferously with all the blokes around me at the time, well you do when you’re seventeen and full of beer don’t you, but all the while I was harbouring a guilty secret and a secret animosity towards ‘Robbo’. I’d played in direct opposition to him in a school match only a couple of years previously. He was the star striker in our years ‘A’ team while I was one of two plodding centre halves in the ‘B’ team, incidentally I think our manager just picked us both together for a laugh, his name was Fish (alright Mickey, hope you’re well) and my mine is obviously Riv.. well you get the picture. Actually there was a bloke in the squad called Waters as well, I kid you not.

Anyway, every season there was an ‘A’ team versus ‘B’ team friendly on a Friday afternoon before the big kick off, this was always well attended as it got you out of lessons for the afternoon and if you were crafty you could sneak off early to start your weekend. So, young Dave had recently cracked getting into the Newcastle United youth team and I’d be marking him, this was it, this was the year I’d be making my claim to an ‘A’ team spot and recognition from the scouts that always came to Benfield, my rightful place in the football league was assured after I sorted this big headed twat out, I couldn’t wait for kick off.

As the sun shone down brightly on the whole school and a gentle breeze casually touched the tops of the blades of brilliant green grass I went over my strategy. The ref, resplendent in his all black football league gear (he was a genuine league referee) raised his whistle to his lips and looked at both goalkeepers, I played it over mentally – hit him hard early on, beat him to the first ball every time, make him look a twat, get promoted to the ‘A’ team, get scouted, use my muscular frame to win a contract at the toon as a top centre half, live on easy street. Piece of piss.

The whistle went and I strode into battle…ten minutes later and we were three nil down, Robbo had a hatrick and he’d been told to ease off by the PE teacher. At the end they won something like eight-nil, he’d got five and never really broken sweat, I couldn’t get near him, I tried to kick him, nut him punch him, everything but was made to look a mug, maybe I should have tried kicking the ball.

Anyway, next time you’re in the boozer moaning about how Lampard’s not good enough for England and Neville’s a load of shite, just remember, they’re much, much better than Dave Robinson, he was much, much better than me…and well…I’m much, much better than you, so think on.

Friday, 9 November 2007


Immigration out of control, unrest in Pakistan, flood waters rising in Britain again - loads to talk about...but fuck that, Newcastle are playing at the village of the Damned tomorrow (Sunderland) and I can't think about anything else.

It's difficult to explain to anyone not from Newcastle but I hate them bastards!!!

The match is less than 24 hours away now and my guts are churning at the thought of it - come on Sam, lets nail these twats.

Hope you all have a good one - Good luck with the house move Tel.

Howay the lads


Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Writing News

Quick bit of news for you girls and boys,

I have an article featured in the latest of edition of ‘True Faith’, Newcastle’s premier fanzine. This is hitting the shops on Friday and, if you’re a toon fan at least, is well worth a read.

I've also posted new articles on the Bleacher Report and Nufcview, well, it's the same article posted twice but you know what I mean!

Here's the links :-

see you later.


Monday, 5 November 2007

Greece is the word...

Athens is a dirty, smelly, shabby looking, noisy and smog filled place. The streets are filled with beggars, stray dogs and Africans trying to sell you stuff. Our hotel was in the middle of a labyrinth of backstreets that were covered in half ripped posters and rubbish.

But…the history and culture in one of the worlds most ancient democracies is awesome. Going up the Acropolis, seeing the Parthenon and looking out over the vastness of the city is something that stays with you forever. Then… having come back to your hotel and got ready to go out, stepping out into the warren of back alleys to find that you’re actually staying in the most lively and up and coming area in the city is just brilliant.

The back streets that were covered in shite had miraculously morphed into something akin to the Quayside in Newcastle. The boarded up shops, covered with posters and chicken wire were actually bars and restaurants that were heaving with locals and tourists alike. Trendy wine bars mixed with ancient Tavernas, new night clubs stood side by side with pavement cafes’ and there were people drinking, dancing and eating as far as the eye could see.

I drank Mojitos and Mythos, ate cheese pies and souvlaki, indulged in outlandish desserts and generally enjoyed myself immensely.

If you can handle heat, beggars and a city that doesn’t look that pretty in daylight then I can heartily recommend Athens. I fucking loved it.