Sunday, 15 February 2009

In The Pursuit of HappYness.

Watched "In the Pursuit of HappYness" last night and have to say it is one of the best films I have ever seen and brought so much of my own life back to me.

In the film Will Smith and his son are forced to live rough whilst he is an unpaid intern on a training program - the outcome of which will see just one intern being appointed as a broker with one of America's leading stockbroker agencies. The film follows his trials and tribulations in the pursuit of happiness and is based on a true story.

The comparisons with my own life (and I suppose many more people's lives) were uncanny (apart from becoming a stockbroker that is!!) Shortly after leaving the police force in 1985 I thought I'd try to find work in London but failed to plan things properly and ended up in bedsit after bedsit after converted wash-house, and for a time I slept rough near Charing Cross - not being aware of the benefits system I didn't claim what I should've and ended up spending all of the little money I had staying in a 'guest house' near Hyde Park, (Doss House would've been a more appropriate description) However, eventually I found work as a front of house attendant at The Theatre Royal in Drury Lane during the evenings and weekends, and during the day I sold advertising on a commission only basis.

Having achieved my goal, and having had some life changing, eye opening and at times very scary experiences along the way, I returned to the North East and a 'proper job' in business support. I've been there ever since (barring a short time running a courier firm in the mid to late nineties) but I wouldn't change any of it - those experiences made me the person I am today (Yes, a miserable old git, but also a person who strives to be the best at everything he does and who doesn't expect life to give him anything without hard work and possibly a bit of strife along the way - it's the best way to be, in my humble opinion and it makes you appreciate what you have.)

I highly recommend the film - go and rent or buy it tonight, you won't regret it.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Another Blast from the Past.

The rather diminutive figure crowded out by the imposing stature, not to mention kaleidoscopic colour, of the Berlin Wall is me, aged 21.

My visit to Berlin took the form of a weekend of booze and more booze, but in between drinking sessions I found time to take in the 'sights' of the then divided city/country - Checkpoint Charlie, The Wall, the underground where you would pass through stations last accessed in 1961 when the wall went up, but whose lights still glowed and whose posters and signs depicted a very different era. East Berlin - which was very easy to get in to, but almost impossible to get out of, Potsdam, where the surrender treaty was signed, Dresden - bombed beyond recognition during the war and seemingly never repaired, Spandau Jail, which at the time still housed a solitary, elderly inmate by the name of Rudolph Hess (who would commit suicide some three months after my visit - was it something I said?) the prison being demolished the following month to avoid it becoming a site of pilgrimage to Germans sympathetic to the Nazi regime.

Less than two years after my visit The Wall was overpowered by the will of the people to escape the past and Berlin was once more reunited.
Dig the shades by the way!!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Feeling really old!!

A former colleague of mine (from the very dim and distant past) posted me a photograph of me meeting a certain British Prime Minister in 1986.

It was taken shortly after I left the police force and, looking at it now, I can see why I was asked so often if my mother knew I was out whilst policing the streets of Stockton on Tees. At the time the picture was taken I was beginning my career in business support, unemployment in the UK was approaching three million and Mrs Thatcher was definately NOT popular having recently dispatched the British Coal industry and Arthur Scargill to history - she had another five years before even her own party got sick of her.

Being a paid up member of the Labour Party at the time I made my own 'protest' by wearing a red tie!! Though I do remember thinking what a remarkable woman she was, and how, over the course of the ten minute conversation I had with her, she almost changed my political views - I had to slap myself!! Very persuasive lady. I admire her tenacity now more than I did then that's for sure!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Hold the front page!!!

Celebrity at last!! - Well, that's not quite true.

Yesterday, after much emailing and telephoning (and begging), The Hartlepool Mail finally picked up on the book and have decided to run a piece on our fundraising activities for Red Nose Day '09, which was nice of them. The story evolves in Hartlepool because of the obvious link with their own legend, but there are not-so-subtle differences - our monkey is German, the legend version was French and a spy. Our monkey talks, theirs didn't - that's why they hung it, but our monkey talks himself into being hung because of his poor grasp of the English language!

So, at lunchtime yesterday I had to explain myself and answer their reporter Mark Thompson's questions about why we'd written the book and what it was all about. I think I did okay, now I just have to buy The Hartlepool Mail for the next few weeks and hope nothing too major happens in the world to wipe our story off the front page (lol.)

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The Hartlepool Monkey

A quick post today to apologise for not commenting on your blogs lately - I have been visiting some. I've got a major push on at the moment promoting the book in order to raise as much cash as possible for Red Nose Day 09.

It's surprising how many people (even up here in the North East) haven't heard the legend of the Hartlepool Monkey, how, during the Napoleonic War, the Crofters of Hartlepool recovered a monkey from a shipwreck and tried and convicted it of being a French spy - having never seen a monkey or a Frenchman before, and having been unable to fathom its 'language'. They sentenced it to death by hanging.  Our book takes a glance at this legend and turns it into fictional truth - our monkey is a German speaking, seafaring, baboon trying to escape persecution of his kind in his homeland. It's a bit of nonsense for Red Nose Day and I want everyone to download a copy NOW!! (Nothing like being upfront and honest, is there?!!lol)

Have a look at the website and read the first two chapters for free - click here


Monday, 2 February 2009


Following the red sky in the morning, it turns out it WAS a shepherd's warning!! The snow has been falling thick and fast across much of the UK overnight and today - and there's more to come. Still, it makes for a pretty picture AND (if you don't have to drive or work in it) it's fun, fun, fun!!
Emily's First Snowman
More Snow
Snow Fight!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Red Nose Day 2009 - how The Baboon's hoping to help.

This Red Nose Day - 13th March 2009 I/we (being myself and my co-writer Andrew Baker) have decided to donate the proceeds from every one of our books downloaded from today until 13th March.

Although available as a paperback the royalties from a physical copy of the book are much lower than that of an electronic download - something like £1.20 per paperback sold as opposed to £3.00 for every downloaded copy, so we've stuck to the most revenue producing element for our charitable activity.

So, a download of "The Baboon's Left Testicle (Part One of Two)" will cost you £4.00 of which £3.00 will go directly to The Red Nose Day Appeal. We've signed a Fundraising Agreement with the charity so we don't want to lose face by sending them a cheque for £6 - the proceeds of our own downloads - so apologies for the blatant appeal!!

If you've not yet decided how to support this great event which does so much for worthwhile causes across the world then this could be one way to relieve you of the burden of having to make a choice. Even if you don't like the book - just think of where your money's going.

If you prefer a physical copy of the book (and don't want to support the Red Nose Day Appeal) then you can now buy it from Amazon!