Sunday, 27 September 2009


A friend of mine who knows a lot about crime - and I mean a lot - gave me an essay about criminology. I am not 100% sure what it is. But I think it's about why people do crimes, what crime is, etc.

I've been reading up some more. There are lots of books about why people steal and kill and kidnap. That it's not always down to wanting to get money. I suppose I sort of knew this somewhere in the back of my head. But now I can put it into words. Sort of.

Take a boy who has everything. A big house. Loving parents. Nice holidays. But every night he goes out to spray paint walls, damage property, throw stones through windows, that sort of thing. Why does he do it? What does he get out of it?

I'm trying to create a character for the book I'm writing. I need to read this criminology stuff to understand more.

I love making up villains. It's the best bit about writing.

Wigtown Book Festival

I was at Wigtown Book Festival yesterday.

Wigtown is a small town in the bit of Scotland just north of the Lake District. It's lovely. By the sea. Lots of bookshops. Nice cafes. Friendly people. There was a pipe band and firework display the night before I was on. I took my daughter. 9pm. She loved it.

The festival has an amazing line up. At breakfast on the day of my event, who should come into the room, but Roddy Doyle? I said good morning, then kicked my wife under the table (gently) to let her know too.

If you are an author I recommend asking to go and talk there. They really look after you. If you are not an author, I recommend a couple of days in one of the hotels/B&Bs, watching events, walking, eating, etc.

I had a surprise at my event.

A few months ago I was shortlisted for a Blue Peter book award. One of the young people judging it was very honest, saying, if I remember correctly, 'I hate it'. Well, just before my event a girl came over to me and explained that she was that young person. She also said sorry. I thought it was really good of her to come and talk to me. We talked quite a bit and I told her that it's good she has strong opinions about books. I often ask children what books the love and what books they hate. That's what reading is about: strong reactions.

I should say a book I hate now, shouldn't I? To prove my point. I'll have a think...

Monday, 21 September 2009

Hotel Life

I'm in a budget hotel in Basildon. I come here a lot. I have been adopted by Ghyllgrove Junior School, working with them six times a year. They run a football writers' group. The group helps me come up with story ideas. They are always the first to read my books - and tell me where I could improve them.

There is no football on tonight. But tomorrow... Leeds v Liverpool. I need to find a pub with it on the TV. I read today that they will rest Gerard and Torres. Is that good or bad? And how do you spell Gerard? Gerrard?

Sometimes I wonder why I write a blog. Is this the most interesting thing I can come up with?

I started plotting Football Detective four today. That was exciting.

But not as exciting as having my debit card swallowed by a cash machine while en route to London and needing it to download my train tickets and pay for four days away from home. The feeling of panic at 6 a.m. was quite something. But my wife came to the rescue.

That's it. That's my exciting news.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Schutz School, Alexandria

I am in Cairo, after three days in Alexandria, where I was talking to children at the Schutz American school.

The school was great. I had a day with the kids before the school was forced to shut down because of swine flu. Then I spent a lot of time with the teachers.

The teachers were good to meet too. Really welcoming. Taking me out to bars, where I met these four England football fans.

I'd like to say thanks to all the teachers. And to Jane and Frank who manage the school. It was an amazing few days. Playing football in 40 degrees of heat. Richoting down the main coast road at 60 miles an hour. Literally. Three days of tours with Omar, Egypt's most promising keeper.
Now Cairo. I can see the giant pyramid from my hotel window. But, as it's dark, I'm settling down to watch England v Croatia.

Monday, 7 September 2009


I am in Alexandria, Egypt. Working at the Schutz American School. And it's been amazing.

I was invited here by one of the students, Omar (left, with me at the Roman theatre).

Day one, he gave me a tour of half the city. Telling me about castles and catacombs, libraries and landscapes. Alexandria is a wonderful place.

Day two, he took me to see a football tournament, to meet his family, to watch him play, in goal. His family are amazing. They have done so much to make me feel welcome. His uncles, aunts and his mother. Egyptians are the friendliest people I have ever met.

Day three - tomorrow - we're going to finish the city tour.

I worked with pupils at the school today, too. They were great. The football reading game went well. Omar in goal. There was a broken lamp incident, when the leather ball smashed into it. But that didn't stop the fun.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Panic Rooms

I've been readng about panic rooms. As you will know, a lot of wealthy people have their houses broken into, so people can steal their stuff. Usually when they're out.

But what if they're in?

There have been some terrible instances of very well known footballers' families being held captive in their own home. It must be a horrible experience.

So some of them - apparently - have installed panic rooms. They're rooms in houses that burglars can't get into. They have reinforced doors and walls. Phones, wireless internet, etc. Some have a chemical that can be sprayed onto assailants. A spray they can't wash off. Presumably that helps identify who has done it.

Most of the rooms in my house are panic rooms. Usually when I'm listening to the away games on the radio.

By the way, if you're a burglar, I don't have anything worth nicking in my house. We've got a ten inch TV and a massive dog.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Autumn, day one

September 1st. My daughter is back at school. Time to get going again.

I'm in the attic at 8am. Researching Football Detective 4, reading about burglary. Burglars on burglary. It's chilling. I woke up in the night and thought I could hear someone trying to get in. But it was the hamster my daughter is looking after for the week. It knows.

I am quite distracted today. I've got the BBC transfer deadline day live update on the laptop. Desperately hoping Jermaine Beckford does not leave Leeds. Keep away Bolton Wanderers!

Listening to Glasvegas.