Monday, 19 January 2015

Book Review: Irvine Welsh - The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins


Irvine Welsh is back, continuing his good run of form on the back of the brilliant Skagboys: this time with his “lesbian-noire” thriller in The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins. As always, Welsh employs more mind bending prose; this time showing his feminine side, presenting Lucy Brennan as his main character; the first leading female protagonist he’s rendered.

Brennan is very much in the same vein as Filth’s Bruce Robertson; conniving, narcissistic and just plain shocking on most levels of humanity. Like Robertson, Brennan’s past is haunting, however I won’t reveal too much for those yet to delve into this gem.
The fact …Siamese Twins is set in Miami sometimes hinders Brennan’s menace, in my opinion. Yes, her evilness is obvious throughout, however cultural differences between Welsh’s native Scotland and his now adopted America stifle Brennan’s rhetoric from time to time. When I say rhetoric, I mean language and more specifically, the word “cunt.” So pervasively used within Welsh’s Scottish characters (look no further than Bruce Robertson and the revered ‘Juice’ Terry Lawson), it’s a word most American’s cringe at and is seldom used within the American culture. I guess it adds a certain reality to ...Siamese Twins.

The story flourishes with unexpected turn of the tides, with the transcendent introduction of Lena Sorensen as the secondary or ‘other’ protagonist.
Many may see Brennan as Welsh’s greatest accomplishment with …Siamese Twins, but Sorensen’s character unravels quite astonishingly throughout. Welsh demonstrates a tone very reminiscent of the modern American wordsmith. In particularly, the passages where Sorensen finds her voice in revealing her past. He cashes in guttural punk satire for eloquence reminiscent of Jonathan Franzen. Welsh has always had the proficiencies to conjure dark narrative, but the Franzen-esque style is extremely welcoming and a pleasant surprise. It’s undoubtedly another string to his bow.

It’s interesting to see where Irvine goes next. A sequel to the venerable Glue is being mooted amongst Welsh aficionados; however I think he could reap more reward from Lena Sorensen. He’s no doubt got it stored away in his locker. The best usually do and Welsh is no doubt up there with the best of them.

By Simon K.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Steven Gerrard - Liverpool Legend!

Regulars of these parts will notice that I seldom post about football (without trawling through my post history, I believe the last post may have been in 2012 prior to my beloved Liverpool’s League Cup triumph against Cardiff City).

So, why is it that these parts remain baron in all things of the round ball variety? Various reasons. Football cuts close to the bone, blurring my thoughts to write constructively about it. For me, football is hypnotic. Football is a sport that either grabs you or leaves you cold. Suffice to say, I’m in the former category. 

The Hicks and Gillett ownership circus took its toll on most ardent Liverpool supporters and I was no different. I frequent the esteemed Red and White Kop forums, which mainly helps justify my existence, however any critique of games, players etc. is largely non-existent through any other mediums or platforms. Hopefully, that may change in the future.

Football aficionados will know that Steven George Gerrard needs no introduction. His decision not to stay at Liverpool has been met with heavy hearts, however it’s a decision the man has made with the blessing of many, myself included. I’ve been privileged to witness Steven Gerrard ply his trade in the flesh. Luckily, on many occasions, too. In the future, I hope to share some of those moments right here.

For now, though, I cannot describe my feelings towards Steven Gerrard. The season still has a lot to offer, and so does Gerrard himself. Reiterating, there will be a time where homage to the great man will be paid. For now, though, Red and White Kop poster, "Fiasco", has summed it up best for me. With his permission, I share with you his eloquent and well balanced missive:

“It won't hit people just how much we'll miss him until he's no longer pulling on the red shirt. I'm only 22 years of age but he's without a doubt the best player I have ever seen play for us and one of the best players to have ever graced this league. People are remembering him and viewing him for what he is now. He's approaching 35 years of age, he's played over 800 games in his professional career and has suffered a list of injuries as long as one of Mr Fantastic's arms. I wish, hope and quietly expect that people will see just what a wonderful, wonderful player and captain he has been for us and not the mini-shadow of his former self. It's called nature, it happens to everybody. It's not his fault his body and mind can't compute as well any longer.

Players like Steven Gerrard aren't nurtured. Players like Gerrard are simply born to play football. Some players are successful due to their physical make up, perhaps great speed or stamina. Some players are successful because of their incredible ability on the ball, an eye for a pass or great set-piece delivery. Others simply have a knack for scoring goals, others are great because of their versatility and some just have a heart so big that any deficiencies are minimized. Steven Gerrard was so damn good because he had all of those qualities and then some. He wasn't a Jack of all trades, master none. He was master of most and Jack of a few.

Think of any great moment of the past 15 years. Any cup win, any derby win or memorable win against a top side, any comeback win, any great goal or incredible game. In most of those you remember I can guarantee Steven Gerrard will be at the heart of it. I simply cannot remember a player being so influential.  Last minute goals, game saving tackles, covering so much ground that would make Henderson look a tad lazy or a basic well rounded performance. He could and did do everything you would want from a player. He left every drop of sweat on the pitch, he would never walk off a pitch wondering what might have been.

As it happens I grew up and still live about a 5 minute drive from where Stevie did. He made it to the very top of the game like so many millions of kids want to. He's a simple, genuine lad from Huyton who has gone on to be one of the best players in world football. I tip my hat off to him. It's a dream that a tiny few see come true and how fucking lucky we are that his path was one that led to the front door of Anfield. Without him I genuinely don't know where we would be as a football club right now. Don't forget that this guy is still the only player to have scored in an FA cup final, a League cup final, a UEFA cup/Europa league final and a Champions league final. He played massive part in getting us there, and once he got us there he stepped up like a fucking boss. Time after time after time.

I know many of you don't care for England as I don't but the man earned over 100 caps for his country. Not many people do that. He scored in a couple of World Cup tournaments as well, as is the norm. He was overlooked many times for the captaincy and I know that hurt him but he got it in the end through merit and although he didn't achieve much with Roy's tame lions nobody can blame him for that. But ultimately getting 100 caps for your country is a phenomenal achievement.

I think a few people have never warmed to him. I think they believe that he thought, or was considered to be, bigger than the club. I think also they
[sic] they never quite got over him flirting with Chelsea. Fuck that. At the time he was a footballer in the prime of his career. I frankly would be surprised if he wouldn't have considered moving. He's a winner, he was born a winner. The idea of winning trophies was so strong that he almost left us. In the end, thankfully, his love for this club was too strong. It happens. It's something that doesn't really bother me. People think sometimes that he can't be arsed, or he turns up when it suits him. Again, fuck that. This is a guy who played almost a full season with pain-killing injections. This is a player whose career was a whisker away from being over when his groin and bone decided to almost separate. He bounced back from that and many countless injuries to get back on the pitch for us. Don't for a minute think he never gave his all.

I'm gutted. Genuinely gutted, almost like a lover has left me. I've grew up with this fella being the heart and soul of the club I love. I've grew up with him giving me the best days of my life as a supporter. I've seen him almost single-handedly win us trophies. I've seen Istanbul, I've seen Cardiff, I've seen Olympiakos. I've seen some of the most amazing goals I have ever seen.  I've seen him own and destroy some of the best teams of the last 20 years. I've seen him be described by Zinedine Zidane as the best player on the planet. I've seen Thierry Henry say he's the one player in world football he would love to play with.

He's the one player that no matter who comes after him, no matter what they achieve, no matter how many trophies they win I can say 'That's great, but you never got to see Steven Gerrard'."

Once again a big thanks to "Fiasco" for allowing me to share his words.

Simon K.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year to you all,

Wishing everyone a safe and healthy 2015. I don't do this often, but sometimes you need to take a step back and realise what you've got.

2014 had its ups and downs. Honestly, in many ways, I'm really glad it's over.

I just wanted to send a shout out to those who stuck by me and my wife, Fran, during the release of my first eBook, Borrowed Time, as well as other events which unfolded throughout 2014. Your support, suggestions and kinds words were paramount  in making this thing see the light of day. I hope for it to continue as well as reciprocating in any humanly way possible.

Big love and big thanks to:

Fran, Mum, Dad, Sean Beardmore, Josh Alexander, Kelly Ryan, John Hunter, Phil Stuart, Alan Crooks, Ash Harris & Jon Harris (glad you're backing fighting fit, mate), Andriejus Lasys.

Best wishes,