Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Happy Hooker

Yesterday evening a reader of this blog expressed polite frustration at what can only be described as my ceaseless self-promotion of late. I told her that I know exactly how she feels. And I swear I do. Sadly, my hands are tied. My hands are tied by a rapacious desire for bags and bags of money. I have changed. I have foresworn myself. I have broken every law I have sworn to uphold. I am become a starving flea, suckling at the tiny teats of Jabba Mammon...

But without meaning to jerk your tears, it’s a case of needs viciously musting. I am a popinjay in penury, teetering on the slippery rim of actually accepting hand-outs from my grandmother. ‘Call it a loan,’ she says, toasting my genitals over the emasculating flames of her kindness. Do you see now? You see how my hands are tied?

It’s time now to stand up, to grow up, and to be a man. And if that means I have to do a little whoring along the way… then so be it. As long as I believe in the product, I can sleep. All day if necessary.

Besides which, it is worth remembering, whoring can actually be fun! That’s what people forget. It’s not just a case of being forced into it because of financial difficulties and drug dependency. Na-ah. Part of me actually enjoys it too.

For example, I was positively crack-high with glee at being offered the opportunity to write something over at the blog of renowned bookman, Scott Pack. I like to think I was accorded this very special honour because of the delightfully winsome comment I left here over a year ago, rather than merely because Mr P happens to work for the same company that just a month ago published my book. That’s what I like to think. And you can't stop me.

Here is what I wrote:

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a writer. To me, being a writer was better than being President of Real Madrid. Better than managing a branch of Nat-West in Dartford or Orpington. Better than being trapped in a chocolate shop with a cloak of irresistibility and Audrey Tautou. Maybe.

Then a couple of weeks ago, it finally happened. My dream came true and a book, a real-life, flesh-and-blood, tough-bodied book, full to gushing with words from my very own fingers and heart hit the shops and shelves like something from an outlandish daydream being dreamt by somebody else. I don’t mind telling you, for a while there I think I felt a little of what Susan Boyle must have felt, shortly before it destroyed her.

And so I did all the things I imagine first-time authors do: I developed a fleeting obsession with the Amazon Sales Rank; I skulked into Waterstone’s, located my beautiful memoir wedged uncomfortably between Belle de Jour and Les Dennis, took a surreptitious photograph and skulked out; I became briefly obsessed with the fate of my book, much like a mother fearing for her first-born – what was going to happen to her? Would she be loved? Would Les Dennis jostle her to the floor of the shop and do her a mischief? Why was my book a lady?; I discovered insomnia – I was either up all night rehearsing award speeches or else repeatedly throttled awake by cruel nightmares in which I was writhing in human ordure, trapped in the base of the portaloos at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival, with both Martin Amis and Margaret Drabble above me, in adjoining cabins, voiding themselves vigorously into my eyes. I also did a few interviews, sent a few emails and flounced about like the whore one automatically becomes when one has a book to hawk. But without the sex.

This week things have gone a little quiet. And apart from the sempiternal dread of the book disappearing like sunburn – flare, fade, peel, pillow – and the failure fuelling thirty years of abject misery, I’m actually rather relieved. My life is the calmest it’s been for about a year. And despite the fact that it’s become like something out of one of Alan Bennett’s rejected monologues, I like it.

Yesterday afternoon, for example, I was lazing in the living room, watching the tennis like a lump of lard whilst Grandmother peeled turnips and carrots in the kitchen. ‘There’s no need for that,’ she said, as one of the Russian girls grunted like a scalded cat with every stroke of the ball. Then she shuffled into the living room brandishing her peeler, spits and spots of carrot skin stuck to the bandages on her hands. She shook her head and despaired. ‘Is nothing sacred?’ she said. I said I didn’t think so. Not these days... Then last night I crept through to the kitchen to find – amongst the shadows and the silence and the silverfish – that Grandmother had put some new jellies to set.

I smiled.

So this is my life. This is the life of a writer. A proper writer with a book in Waterstone’s. Just like Les Dennis. And all the other whores.

My book by the way, is called ‘The Intimate Adventures Of An Ugly Man’ and I want you to buy it. It has its roots in a blog I’ve been writing for the last 18 months. The blog is about me – face like a bag of elbows, gut like a pastry parade, bed like a beached windsock – trying to sort myself out and find someone to love. The book is about my life in general: my trials, my tribulations, my triumphs, my hilarious neuroses and my recent family upheaval.

Because the blog was highly confessional in nature, and genital-warts-and-all in its approach, and because I still had the remnants of a fairly ordinary life that I didn’t want to entirely besmirch, I decided I would write anonymously. So I became Stan Cattermole.

In eighteen months then, my life has changed substantially. I still haven’t found the everlasting wholly reciprocated love I was seeking. I still haven’t lost all of the weight I was hoping to lose. And if I’m honest, I still struggle with tobacco consumption. But at least now I have a ridiculous fake name and I eat a lot of jelly. Oh, and I have a book in Waterstone’s. Next to Les Dennis.

Whatever happens to my book – whether it becomes the bestseller it thoroughly deserves to be or disappears like a toddler in the Algarve – I decided today that I’m going to try and write another one. This one will be a novel, however. I’m going to write it as much of it as I can over the next two months, then move back to London in September and have a party. Anyone who’s ever left a comment on my blog will be invited. And Audrey Tautou. She’ll be invited too.

So here’s to the future. Feel free to buy my book, won’t you? And if you fancy coming to my party, you’d better go make your presence felt at my blog.

There will be jelly.


Then I washed, put on my clothes and left.

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Monday, 29 June 2009

The Monday Review :: ‘Oh what a lovely book!’

Good evening.

Next week, all going well, I will be interviewed for a Christian radio station. That should be fun. This week, a couple more reviews on Amazon, starting with one by S P Williams, which I will now excerpt for my own glorification:

‘...It's soon evident that this isn't a quick cobbling-together of blog posts. On the printed page, Stan's writing comes into its own, with an immediacy and incisiveness that instantly engages. Stan's depiction of the minutiae of human interaction is amazingly perceptive… It's also riotously funny: really laugh-out-loud, blowing-snot-out-of-the-nose funny. I can't recommend this highly enough; it deserves to be massive, if only so that we can hear a lot more from Stan. An astonishing debut from a huge (in all senses of the word) talent.’

That’s probably my favourite so far. I particularly like the bit about snot. I hope it really happened.

The second is from Ian in Melbourne, and includes the following:

‘Beautifully written… a rollicking rollercoaster ride that swings wildly and unpredictably between comedy and pathos…. But I did wonder how the blog format - episodic, rambling and continuing - would translate into the necessarily more disciplined and discrete book format. And, I wondered, how can it end on a satisfactory note with at least some semblance of the loose ends being tied up? The answer is wonderfully well. You know that feeling you get when you savour every page of a book, when you simultaneously can't wait to get to the next bit but feel anxious because the pages left to read are steadily reducing and you don't want it to be over - well, that's 'Bete de Jour'…. And when you get to the ending a wonderful surprise awaits, unexpected even for readers of the blog. Suffice it to say that Stan does indeed find love, though not necessarily in the way we were expecting. And, seeing himself for the first time through the eyes of someone who loves him deeply and unconditionally, he finds a measure of self-esteem and, yes, happiness. Oh what a lovely book!’

Awww. That’s nice.

Then there’s a review on Hendo’s blog. Hendo is the guy who suggested I might be Irvine Welsh merely pretending to be Stan Cattermole for… actually, I’m not sure for why. I don’t think Hendo’s sure either, but he still has his suspicions. ‘He does write almost suspiciously well,’ he writes, suspiciously. ‘Could this be a fascinating experiment by someone much better known? I can’t rid myself of this thought. I’m like that though.’ Ah, Hendo. You big nutter, you. Sadly, Hendo also has a few reservations about the book. Happily, I’m going to ignore them. He ends by saying: ‘Anyway do buy this book, a man who writes like this – whoever he is - deserves lunch.’

I do deserve lunch. He is right. I’m going to have a Mars bar ice cream. Then go for a bike ride.

Until tomorrow.

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Friday, 26 June 2009

Feedback Friday :: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson.


Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson.

Deepak Chopra. Newsnight.


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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Scanmongering Mittwoch :: Violence

This is not violence.

This is smut. Also, it's the answer to the last thrilling episode of Bookscan, from back in those heady, innocent days of mid-May. Congratulations due to Melissa, who in the end refused the kind offer of a dead old man's wheelchair. There is no pleasing some people.

This, however, is violence.

I watched Louis Theroux Meets Chris Eubank last night and that reminded me that I had lined up a couple of Bookscans before I went on holiday. But then I forgot about them. Look at that photo though. Vile, isn't it? 'You never got me down, Ray.' Here's another one.

How thoroughly undignified.

Aww, this is better, and of course, what it was all about. Or most of it.

So, what's the book? If you don't know, guess. A prize for the winner. Don't know what yet. You choose.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Radio Ulster :: Listen Again

So, I was sitting in a bar in Newcastle on Friday, eating a not very appetising ‘sandwich’ and reading a book. The book was flat on the table in front of me and I was holding it in place with my non-eating hand. The left.

Two tables away, also to my left, men in their twenties and thirties, four of them, drank and chatted, pleasant and placid. It was a nice bar. Expensive. I eavesdropped for a while, but when they started talking about football I dismissed them as lesser mortals and returned to my book. I even flared a nostril to the accompaniment of a deliciously supercilious eyebrow. I may even have given a tiny shake of the head. But subtle.

Then, a page or two later and the words ‘the most depressing book ever written’ filtered back through from their world to mine. Automatically I lifted my head and I lifted my book and I said, ‘You’re not by any chance talking about this, are you?’

And they were! That very book. Unseen! On their lips! Isn’t that incredible? I don’t know. It struck me as a wonderful thing. For a humble book to have its own personality so profoundly engraved upon the ego-psyche of the zeitgeist that all known culture becomes perversely unbound within it.

It took me a long time to come up with that sentence. I’m very proud of it. It’s wholly meaningless. And yet it seems to crave meaning, like a blind man fondling his own face.

Do you know, I don’t mind telling you: I’m a little bit intoxicated. I’ve had a couple of cheeky cheroots and half a bottle of wine. This probably accounts for the fact that I’m suffering an overwhelming temptation to use the term ‘market penetration’.

So this book, yes. The stuff of delightful barroom coincidence and powerful synonymy with harrowing, near brain-melting sadness.

I said ‘synonymy’! For real. Did I use it right? Don't care. Tomorrow, I may say ‘synergy’.

That’s a book though. That's what I'm talking about. That right there. Imagine that.

Oh, I haven’t even said what it was yet. It was My Booky Wook by Russell Brand.

Of course, of course, of course, I jest. I’m sorry. I feel full of vim tonight. I don't know what it is. I think it might be the spirit of Egg Wallace in me after having watched the first quarter-final of Celebrity Masterchef earlier.

Alma had recorded it for me with her futuristic telly. She doesn’t find it as funny as I do – partially because she’s not always stoned – but she recorded it anyway. And watched it with me, slightly alarmed by my cackling. Isn't that nice? Yes, it is.

So anyway, the book in question was - obviously - The Road. I’m only about halfway through but already I’m shaken half to death by it. Every time I pick it up, I’m filled with a terrifying dread. I keep talking to strangers about it. Oh, I even mentioned it on the radio today to the absolutely charming Marie-Louise Muir on Radio Ulster.

But it was cut. Probably just as well. Marie-Louise said she hadn’t been able to get past the first chapter, because of the sadness. The great wuss.

But she was delightful to chat to. I was sat in a little booth with beautifully snug headphones, and she was hundreds of miles away in another country, but so warm and friendly that it almost felt like she was sitting in my lap.

Last night, by the way, I was trying to think of things to say in this interview – special little things that would amuse me and maybe a couple of other rather frivolous people. In the end I decided it would be hilarious if I could slip in some of the slang from The Wire, so I wrote on my hand: ‘mos def’, ‘no doubt’, ‘true dat’ and ‘feel me?’ Unfortunately I failed. It’s really hard, once you’re involved in a conversation. I did however manage to sneak something in. It ain’t no thing. In fact, it's rather half-arsed, and it lacks the killer 'feel me?' at the end... but still, I listened to it for the first time just now and I glowed with childish pride.

Tiny things.

If you’d like to listen the wholly adorable Marie-Louise Muir put it to me that I may in fact be ‘the Brad Pitt of bloke-lit’ - I so wanted to offer ‘the Brad Pitt of dick-lit’ as an alternative, but I wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do - then you have seven days to listen here. It’s the first item.

It's still rather painful to listen to for me, but despite the many things I hate about my voice, I do like the way that I keep sniggering. I sound like such a happy little person.

Maybe I am!

Oh, and of the four guys in the bar, the ones I dismissed as footiefied cretins, two of them had read The Road. One of them kindly said he'd say no more about it as he didn't want to spoil it for me. The other one had no such qualms. He told me outright: 'The butler did it.'

That'll teach me.

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Monday, 22 June 2009

The Monday Review :: 'A declaration about human reality...'

Well, it’s been quite a week for my little old book. A few more reviews are in. Two more on Amazon, the first from the lovely Amanda, who says:

‘Beautifully crafted and practically impossible to put down, you'll find yourself with Stan on a journey that will have you laughing out loud while wiping away tears of sadness - and then laughing out loud again. And although the book is certainly sexy, the profound climax of the book has nothing to do with sex. But it will move you.’

The second from ‘Colette’, who describes the book as ‘a declaration about human reality'. Coo...

'There are vignettes here that everyone will relate to and some that I sincerely hope no one will experience. It's a life story that is unusual in its honesty. Renew your interest in humanity by examining the life of one brave writer, it will help restore your hope and your good humour.’

Then there was a brief mention at the excellent Private Secret Diary:

‘I’ve been sniggering stupidly at Bête de Jour’s book, especially the bits about Dartford. (If you are an angry resident of Dartford, you can ‘search inside’ via the link, and type in ‘Dartford’, and then perhaps get your face in the local paper, holding the book, with a cross expression on your face)... very much recommended.’

I must say, I would love that to happen.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is my first bad review. Well, not entirely bad as it does include the eminently pull-outable: ‘…the most engaging blog-turned-book I've read… The writing, as on the blog, is a delight. He's erudite, acerbic, funny. He has a turn of phrase to love (for the entertainment) and hate (because you're jealous)…’ as well as an exhortation to buy the book. So it’s not entirely bad, although it does have some bad bits in it, including the words ‘two-dimensional’, ‘saccharine’ and ‘cliché’. Oh, and some slightly unhinged talk about the nature of reality.

The author of this review, one 'Beleagured Squirrel' (BS for short) has written to me on numerous occasions and has repeatedly expressed - and at length - her suspicions concerning the fact that I managed to get a book deal so quickly.

Well, perhaps now’s the time to own up. There is a reason I was able to get a book deal so quickly. And you won’t like it. The fact is - drum roll - I am Rupert Murdoch’s grandson.

Think about it. That’s how I was able to get a deal with Harper Collins. That’s how this feature made its way onto the Sky website yesterday. And that’s why I’ll never be tracked down by one of The Times Blogfinder General henchmen. Not because I'm not important. No. But because of Uncle Keith. As I sometimes call him. (My friend NotKeith is also three halves Murdoch. Hence the name. You see?)

I’m only telling you this now because I know you’ll assume I’m joking.

I’m not joking.

The things you do for love, eh, readers? Just look at me. Jesus God. It’s like I don’t even understand the meaning of the word dingity. Dognasty. Whatever.

Alma took the photo. Two days later it was on the telly, teasing Sky’s web content. I didn’t see it but I heard. (I don’t have Sky. Roop says it’s a load of crap anyway. He says TV gives you cancer. Newspapers too.) So anyway, Alma was amazed when I told her that a photo she’d taken was being broadcast to millions, but only very briefly amazed and in a very distracted manner, because Columbo was on and he was doing a limerick.

Thankfully the Sky article is mostly my own words, but naturally, what with it being one of Uncle Roop’s crowd, there were a couple of misquotes and one or two which were totally made up, but nothing to get upset about.

Next week, I show my arse crack on Fox News. And nobody notices.

I am joking, by the way.

But now I'm off to the BBC. That's true.

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Sunday, 21 June 2009

A Northern Breakfast

I was handed this whilst walking through Sunderland the other morning. It's the first item on the breakfast menu that made me realise, I must go. Not to 'Harleys cafe bar', but away...

Unless something goes wrong, I shall be leaving the land of the rising steaklet and moving back to London in September, which gives me around ten weeks to... ugh, find a job. Anyone got a job for me? Go on. Gissa job.

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Friday, 19 June 2009

Feedback Friday :: Blarney Rubble

bulk :: 15st 6 (hush now)
cigarettes :: 0
bonsai doobies :: 12 or so
Wii Fit sessions :: 3
gyms visited :: 3
gyms joined :: 0
bikes bought :: 0
interviews given :: 3
interviews enjoyed :: 2
interviews aired :: 1
interviews in the pipeline :: 3
books started :: 3
books finished :: 0
films watched :: 0
jellies eaten :: 4
opportunities for change :: 1
dates :: 1

So. It’s been quite a week. I’ve just done my third telephone interview with the achingly lovely Nadine from Phantom 105.2. From the very beginning Nadine was extremely personable and it was a pleasure to talk to her. The interview will be going out tomorrow morning between 10 a.m. and noon, on her show called The Kiosk.

Radio Ulster next week. The Irish love me.

Now I have to rush. I have to do some Wii Fit, and I have to go walking somewhere. Walking is the answer! Look at Stephen Fry! And then I have to prepare myself, for tonight I am meeting a lady I found on the internet. I’m not going to talk about it though, because I will turn everything into rubble.

Speaking of rubble, I am reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is remarkable, hypnotic and powerfully sad. I feel sad just thinking about it now in fact. Let’s move on.

This afternoon I’m going to Newcastle to try and find some decent bookplates, or indeed any bookplates. These are those customised stickers that can be signed and stuck in the front of books. I’m trying to persuade Publisher Lady to make some for me at Murdoch House but, you know, times are hard. Look at this one the publishers of Freakonomics made though...

That's kinda cool, and cheap as chips to make. What excellent publishers they must be. How kind. How clever.

Oh, I heard yesterday of an opportunity to move back to London in September. I’m thinking about it.

Oh, and if you do nothing else today, please follow this link and vote yes. Go on, it’s important. And hilarious.

For now, must dash.

Have a tour-de-force of a weekend, won’t you? Do something I wouldn’t do, then tell me about it.


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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

‘Any Woman Is An Enormous Fear Barrier…’ What the…?

This is very weird. I seem to make a lot of noises that are not exactly words. Anyway, here it is here...


What the fuck is ‘late to mid twenties’ when it’s at home?

Anyway, even taking into account my ridiculous levels of embarrassment, I think that went quite well. Unlike the one I’ve just done with Matt Cooper for Today FM. I didn’t enjoy that at all.

You know in Jerry Maguire, when Cuba Gooding’s character is being interviewed by the guy famous for making his guests cry? You remember that? ‘Your father leaves home on Christmas Eve. Your mother had to sweep up to pay your tuition. Your brother lost a leg. You've had a pretty horrific life.’ ‘I’m not gonna cry, Roy.’ Well, this Matt fellow was going in that direction, and the absolute last thing I want is to be on the radio weeping about having a fucked-up childhood. It’s one thing to write it down, quite another to be expected to talk about it. Probably the reason I wanted to write it down in the first place was because I’m no good at talking about it. So I was immediately on the defensive and not enjoying myself. Which meant that I was babbling and stuttering and wandering around and getting breathless. Then he started suggesting that maybe I’m not ugly at all and it’s all a gimmick to sell books. Which I’ve read in a couple of emails this week too. And I really don’t know how to reply to that, except to say, yeah, that’s not beyond the realms of possibility. So what?

No. I didn’t enjoy that one. They said they’d let me know when it’s going to be put out. Not tonight though, as I’d imagined.


Now I’m going to go join another sodding gym and put it all out of my mind.

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Intimate Adventures on Live Radio

So, earlier this evening, I did an interview with Maurice Boland. This was to publicise the book - did I mention I had a book out? Anyhow, all I knew about Mr Boland prior to the phone call was that which I'd fleetingly searched. To wit, a blanket of eye-grinding text and this slightly disconcerting image. The image reminded me of Louis Theroux’s meeting with Jimmy Savile, which I saw for the first time just the other night. It reminded me of the rather sad scene where Jimmy calls a photographer to take advantage of his impromptu gift to a children’s hospital. So I found myself wondering if Maurice Boland was going to be similarly full-on showbiz, a little ‘ow’s about that then, a little Mr Cigar, Mr Cigar. Yeah?

An hour and a half before he was due to call me, I had completed all of the chores that it was reasonable to embark upon and the creeping hives were upon me. So I turned to Twitter for solace. I asked the Twittersphere if I should have a couple of drinks before the interview. The consensus was wholeheartedly in the affirmative...

...so I had a couple of glasses of wine and a bonsai dooby out my bedroom window.

Of course, anyone’s biggest fear before being interviewed, in any context, I imagine, is that something is going to go wrong, the interviewer is going to take against you, ask you a bunch of questions for which you genuinely have no answers and you’re going to make such an arse of yourself flapping about digging holes that you have no alternative but to throw your toys out of the pram and strop off like a retard. Such as, for example, the delightfully placable Peter Davies, brand new Mayor of Doncaster, who exploded into the public limelight on Monday morning like a giant boil, lanced live on air. (If you haven’t heard it yet, please do. It’s an absolute pearl.)

So yeah, that’s the fear.

At around 18:40, I received this:

By then of course, I was already stark naked.

At 18:41 I picked up the phone to Maurice Boland and he very casually asked if I was ready. I said I was. I added that at least I thought so, but he was already speaking again, saying he’d put me through. Oh, I thought. So was that actually him? He said it was. And then I could hear a song ending. Damn, I can’t remember what it was. But it was cheesy. It was then that I realised that this was actually a live interview.

I wasn't expecting that. I'm sure I must have misread an email, but... suddenly he was introducing me. To the good people of Talk Radio Europe.


But Maurice put me at my ease immediately - not at all like Jimmy Savile - and it was very good fun. If slightly weird. In fact, it may well have been the most bizarre fifteen-minute conversation I've ever had. In those fifteen minutes, Maurice Boland propositioned me, propositioned my grandmother, told me repeatedly that he was very good looking, asked me if I was bisexual and told me that he loved me.

God, I do hope it’s available on listen again at some stage or no one is ever going to believe me.

It was really quite something and I honestly can’t imagine any of the other interviews measuring up to it. If I can get hold of an mp3, I’ll put it up here immediately, unless of course when I hear it myself, I implode.

Tomorrow, an interview with The Last Word, pre-recorded this time, so hopefully they can airbrush out any minor freakouts.

Jesus, I think I've just remembered asking him if he was trying to pimp out my grandmother. Good God.

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Monday, 15 June 2009

The Monday Review :: 'The writing. Oh, the writing.'

From now on, right up until the moment I get bored or give up, Mondays will be given over to feedback related to the book. If you think you might find this a little tedious, please feel free to go elsewhere. You turncoat, you.

First up, the reviews. A couple have already appeared on Amazon, including one from Valerie E Polichar, which includes, if I may pick a few cherries, the following: ‘compelling and intelligent’, ‘Cattermole has excellent pacing, a keen sense of humor, and a gift for believable dialogue', ‘…a clearly skilled writer with the ability to root his personal history in the essence of human nature. This story is more than true - it is heart-true… it's also pretty sexy.’

Did you hear that last bit? Pretty sexy. I like that especially.

The other Amazon review is from Lady Penelope, who says, ‘I read Bete de Jour, the blog from day one and Stan Cattermole never ceased to make me laugh, cry, gasp and even get rather cross, on occasion. Every human emotion was there. Then came the book… I read it in less than 24 hours and hung off every word. It's real. It's raw. It's a life story that will grab you by the hair and leave you screaming for more by the end. Read it! You won't regret it!’

That's great, that 'screaming for more' And not at all exaggerated. I've heard them. People. Up and down the country, all across the globe, screaming. 'MOOoooreee!' they scream. 'More!' And then they start weeping.

Then there was 'Paperbat' who reviewed the book for her website. Cherries include: ‘…irresistible. Immediate.... The writing. Oh, the writing. I enjoy reading Stan Cattermole’s writing as much as I enjoy Mark Twain and Charles Dickens and Kurt Vonnegut. In fact, I have rarely read anything more painfully humorous and delightfully moving. For me, this book is packed full of snivels and dusted with scenes that require tissues and a break. And yet the same book contains wondrous interludes that make me laugh out loud, even on third or fourth reading....’

You see that? Twain, Dickens, Vonnegut, Cattermole.... It's like the Mount Rushmore of great literature...

OK, OK, I'll stop now.

All of the above reviewers however, have one thing in common – they were familiar with the blog before they encountered the book. I can’t help feeling that, automatically, they would be better-disposed to enjoy the book. More of a challenge, I think, are people who’ve never read it before. People like the Amber Cowan at London Lite, and Ian Wear at The Bookbag. The London Lite we've already covered, but Mr Wear’s review appeared only last week. Here are the cherries, and – damn him to hell – a couple of curdled prunes.

‘The first thing you notice is that Stan is a very funny guy. He has a wry sense of humour... frequently amusing... hilarious'. So far, so good. I particularly like 'frequently amusing'.

'Stan is also an emotional character and takes a lot to heart... [he] never holds back and whilst some of the things he's done over the years do seem pretty disgusting, it is to his credit that he is as open as he is... What this did provide, however, is a touch of reality that is often missing. Being able to empathise with a character in a book like this is something that happens rarely, at least to me… the most realistic bloke-lit book I've read.’

Bloke-lit? Bloke-lit? Is that the accepted contrary of chick-lit? I don’t like it. I would have felt much more at home with something else - dick-lit, for example.

Wear goes on to suggest that I ‘fall for a couple of the old clichés’, by which he means that the story of my life becomes ‘a little too sensational to seem real… It may be that Stan just happens to have had a remarkable year and a number of his friends did have quite a tough time, but there was so much going on that it took the edge off things slightly.’

Pffft. You should think yourself lucky that the edge was taken off, Wear. Imagine having to deal with the edge too. You'd never have coped.

He also says that he found the book depressing because ‘close to the end, Stan looks back over his efforts and it suddenly occurred to me at that point that this man is actually more successful with the opposite sex than I am.’

Aaaah, yeah. Stan Cattermole. The man who makes other men jealous. Which means, incidentally, that mankind, is fucked.

Wear concludes: ‘…a very entertaining book…. a warm-hearted, well-written, amusing read. It's perhaps a little explicit during the cyber-sex scenes, but Stan doesn't go into Belle de Jour levels of detail. As well as being a funny guy, in this respect Stan is something of a gentleman.’

Right, so that’s the reviews so far. Not as many as I would like frankly, but then I am never satisfied. I should be happy that they’re all good reviews. And indeed I am. I’m overjoyed. But still, where are those bastard tabs and broadsheets when you need them? Eh?

Next up, interviews. I’ve already done one with a Sky journalist, but apparently they want a photo of me in a paper bag before they’ll run it.

Then tomorrow I’m being interviewed for something called Talk Radio Europe. More specifically, for the Boland Show, with the one and only Maurice Boland. Quite.

Then on Wednesday I’m being interviewed for something called The Last Word on something called Today FM.

I think that both interviews are being prerecorded, which is a big relief, otherwise I’d be very concerned about the Tourette’s. I still need to watch myself however. I need to speak slowly, and breathe. It’ll be like being on a date. I have to deliberately calm myself down. I may have to take a diazepam. Someone sent me a message just an hour ago warning me that it’s very easy to sound like a mouse on speed with all the excitement. I shall make every effort to avoid that. I shall make every effort to sound like a mouse on a benzodiazepine derivative drug instead.

Unfortunately I won’t find out when the interviews are to be aired until after I’ve done ‘em. But, unless they go very very badly, I’ll let you know.

What else? Ah yes, if you’re not sure whether you want to buy the book or not, you can now browse the opening pages of the first 18 chapters, which frankly, I think is far too much, and could potentially spoil many of the wonderful surprises within the book, but I guess the publishers know what they’re doing. By the way, if you browse, you must buy. That's just the way it is. Sorry.

More exciting than all of the above however, and more potentially humiliating, is the fact that on Friday I went down to London, to the recording studio of a talented friend, and recorded the spoken vocal for a version of the Paper Bag song. This thing here, which also appears in the book and, I thought, might make a decent actual song. It could still all fall apart though. This week I have to start working on a video. Um... right, a video. I don’t know what I’m doing! Help!

Finally, thanks to all of you who’ve sent me wonderful or otherwise rambly and slightly bizarre emails and messages over the last week. I will get round to replying to you in the next few days. I'm just finding the time at the moment, but as I’ve no plans to go back down to London any time soon, I should be able to get myself into a decent work rhythm again. Won't be long now.

In the meantime, faithful readers, Amazon awaits you.

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Thursday, 11 June 2009

In Vernon We Trust

I wish I was Vernon Kay.

I never thought I’d say that; and I don’t say it lightly.

Actually, on reflection, I’d like to take it back. I don’t wish I was Vernon Kay at all. But I do wish I had at my disposal his remarkable, implacable showbiz persona. It’s like a sheet of very expensive plastic, highly disposable and horribly tawdry for sure, but unflappable and infinitely confident.

Alma likes Vernon Kay. She wouldn’t like him if she’d heard what I heard the other day.

But I shall not stoop to gossip. Especially not when I’m on the radio.

That’s right. The radio.

Oh, dear God in Heaven, I don’t want to go on the radio. Are you there God? It's me, moaning Stanley. Please don’t make me go on the radio.


I’ve got to go on the radio. To publicise the book. I said I would because you have to say yes to these things, don’t you – carpe diem and all that. Plus it’s written into my contract. So I’ll do it. But I already feel sick at the thought.

There are currently two interviews lined up, next Tuesday and next Wednesday. I’ll give you the details on Monday, just in case you want to witness my humiliation first-hand as it slowly, painfully unfurls, like a sticky sleeping bag full of bad pornography. At the moment I’m too bilious. At the moment I need to relax and channel Vernon. Aaaah, Vernon. The smile. The quips. The slightly sinister over-eagerness to please. The desperation to be loved oozing from every pore, hanging in the air like celebrity sweat as a creepy dead hand drapes itself over an unwilling shoulder. Can I manage that on radio? Well, as Vernon is my witness, I can try.

And with that, we move lushly and crassly into the final batch of beautifully staged pseudo-fan portraits, patiently posed by some people I met on my travels.

God Bless them all.

Oh, and that thing about Vernon Kay and the aerosols is just absolutely ludicrous. It’s just one step up from Richard Gere and the hamster, and Ann Widdecombe and the gingerbread butt-plug and I for one want no part of it.

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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Bête de Jour :: Tested On Animals

Stan :: Oy! Cedric. Here, look. It's a book.

Stan :: Psssst! Cedric! Come on, I've opened it for you. You'll like this bit. It's got a cat in it.

Paddy :: [Appearing in the room quite suddenly, like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn.] What are you doing?

Stan :: Oh. Um... nothing. I was just trying to get Cedric to review my book. I thought he might like it, but... I don’t know think he can read.

Paddy :: Of course he can read. He’s nearly 11. He just can’t read in his sleep. You can see that he’s sleeping, right?

Stan :: I know, I was trying to coax him awake with my words.

Paddy :: Don’t be silly. Wake him up. He likes books. Here, I’ll do it....

Cedric :: What the…? Get your stinkin’ hands off me! I was ‘aving a snooze!

Paddy :: Come on, Cedders. Uncle Stanley’s written a booky-wook. Settle down and have a little read.

Cedric :: A fuckin’ what? What are you, four years o--

Cedric :: Can’t breathe! Can’t breathe! Let go of me neck, you bastard!

Stan :: Just read the sodding book, Cedric, you illiterate swine! Or at least pretend to. You can do that, can't you?

Cedric :: You are going to die.

Paddy :: No, I don’t think it’s going to happen. Maybe just a shot of him admiring the cover, as if he’s just read the book and is milling it over.

Stan :: Mulling it over. I don’t like the way he’s looking at me.

Cedric :: My laser eyes are burning into your soul.

Stan :: I know! Have you got any Marmite?

Cedric :: Any what now?

Stan :: I know a trick with Marmite.

Paddy :: I think so. Let me check.

[He checks.]

Not really, but I’ve got this old jar of Vegemite. That’ll do, won’t it?

Stan :: Yeah, yeah, it’s all the same. Now, spread a bit of it on the cover and get him to lick it off. It’ll be like he’s saying, ‘Mmmmm, Bête de Jour. Good enough to eat.’ And see if you can get him to scrunch his face up like Michael Winner’s.

Paddy :: There you go, Lord Cedley. Lovely Marmite on the lovely book. Mmmm. You like Marmite.

Cedric :: Do I look like a mug to you? Or a dog maybe? Have you mistaken me for a dog? Is that it? That is not Marmite.

Stan :: Shove his nose in it!

Cedric :: NNNff!

Stan :: That’s it. Now scoot off and let me get the money shot.

Cedric :: But this is not Marmite. This is an inferior product. Is anybody listening to me?

Cedric :: Ah, bollocks to this….

Stan :: Stupid cat. Why has he got paint on his back?

Paddy :: He’s not stupid. He’s just got good taste. And that’s not paint.

Stan :: Yeah, well. Whatever.

Bête de Jour :: The Intimate Adventures of an Ugly Man (wipe-clean cover included.)

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Tuesday, 9 June 2009


When I first blogged about getting the book deal, I swore I wouldn’t turn into one of those whingeing bloggers who type swift, miffed posts about deadlines and agent lunches and oh my God, you just don’t understand the pressure! If they even exist. And I have no intention of starting now. But something is going on...

I’m tense today. Unusually so. Maybe. This is the first proper day back and I’ve been tense all day.

This morning, for example, I was quick to rankle in the doctor’s surgery when they kept me waiting for a full 20 minutes in an otherwise empty room with the telly on full blast - I turned it off - and then asked me where my urine was. I had no urine. This was the first mention of urine. I was handed a tube and pointed towards a disabled toilet. Sullenly, peeved and wretched, I tried. But I had none. Goddammit! It’s the pressure! No one understands the pressure! So then I had to make another trip to the surgery this afternoon, armed with a small warm tube of angry yellow urine. I know, I know. Walk away from the gag.

Then, an hour or so later, Gchatting to a friend, I was tetchy. Unnecessarily so. If In fact, if I’m being perfectly honest, I was probably petulant to boot.

Then, around teatime, I became positively livid because I couldn’t buy rail tickets to London - my destination this Thursday - from Sunderland - my point of departure - without first going to Newcastle or Durham to pick up my ‘fast tickets’. Oh, the irony. Of course, had I been made aware of this, National Express, you sloppy motherfuckers, before I embarked upon the online booking process, I would have gone to the train station in person and accomplished everything in one fell swoop.

So I have to waste at least two hours of my precious, angry life, if not more, piddling about in search of a system that makes fucking sense.

It is galling, but I overreacted, sighing and stomping my feet, on the telephone, whining to the call centre lady, ‘But it’s a hideous, ridiculous world, isn’t it?’ ‘M-hm.’ ‘Isn’t it though? Say it is.’

Jesus. Leave it.

But it’s not just the National Health and National Express. (Oh, I also went to Vision Express this afternoon because I AM GOING BLIND! But they were quite nice, so I can’t really be churlish about them.) No. It’s more than quotidian awfulness. I’m feeling tense because… I’ve been trying to pinpoint it for a few hours now and I think it comes down to this: I’m afraid.

As always. It really never ends, does it? You get what you want and there’s barely time to pat yourself on the back before you’re plagued by fear of failure.

I’ve got so little faith in myself, even after having achieved a fair bit in the last 18 months. I’m afraid of everything falling apart and fading away. Not with a bang, but a feeble whine. I’m terrified of the book ebbing tepidly into total obscurity, not even bold enough to prompt proper enmity. And I’m afraid of the shame of whoring myself to give the book every chance of being read. But I know I have to. Even so, begging people to review your book is grody to the max. If they want to review it, they’ll review it. Must I send them Spamazon? Ohhh, I don’t know.

And more than all of that, I’m terrified of becoming boring, of having nothing to blog about but all this clunking bunkum and self-regarding bum gravy. And it is. It is bum gravy.

Hopefully though, this is me getting it out of my system.

Actually, I think I've just realised the solution. If faith is difficult to come by, probably the best solution is to just fake it.

So, tomorrow, I shall be blogging pictures from the final leg of the European Book Tour. Then we’ll work out the best way to sign books for those of you who’d like them signed, without me cringeing in on myself like a vampire trapped in a shaft of sun. Oh, come on, now that is embarrassing.

Now I must away and answer some questions for a Sky journalist. I know! First Harper Collins, now Sky. I’m so far up the scat-pipe of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire that I can practically tickle the Dirty Digger’s semi-colon with the tip of my tongue!

Thanks to Swineshead, the grumpy bastard who often takes issue with me for no reason, for the light relief.

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Friday, 5 June 2009

Feedback Friday :: Hometime

bulk :: unknown (lots of pizza and beer - bad effect; endless traipsing with 20 kilos of rucksack on my back - good effect. Overall, most likely no change whatsoever.)
cigarettes :: probably about five a day (On Monday, I'm stopping - be prepared for some highly irritable blog posts)
alcohol :: a few beers, a few wines, a few liqueurs - nothing so serious
holiday romance :: zero, zilch, niente, di nada, bugger all

My return flight to England leaves in exactly four hours. Before I go to the airport I intend to eat a hearty lunch, send the postcards that I've been carrying around with me for the last week and make a phone call or two. I must say, on the whole, it's been a rather disappointing holiday. I'm sorry - I hate to come across a miserable, whining cur - after all, two weeks in Italy, three cities, loads of sun and wonderful food - this is not something at which one should find oneself shaking a stick. And I'm not, really I'm not. It's just that, there were disappointments.

Still, balls to the disappointments. There were also wonderful moments. I loved, for example, travelling around alone on trains - the trains here are exceptional, some of them have two decks! I loved meeting people in train stations. The ones I enjoyed the most were the old ones. The American couple whose luggage I carried up some stairs in Faenza - 'you've made my day!' said the old lady. 'And you've made mine!' I replied. And she really had.

The two couples in Agrigento. The lady who was brought up by German nuns in Nebraska, and for whom the idea of a life without rules and regulations was frankly unthinkable. Then when the train finally arrived, she said to me, 'It's not very big.' I replied, 'It's big enough', and she laughed and admired my attitude. Then she said, 'I needed to meet you today.' That really touched me. Then when we said goodbye at Palermo, she said, 'Have a nice life.' That touched me too. I'm easily touched.

Then there were the two old Irish ladies in Rome, when I was sat alone in a Chinese restaurant on publication day. We got talking, a short time before I left. They were sweet to me. We talked about the internet. One of them had been living in Rome for fifty years. Imagine that.

There were other times too, and probably quite a lot of them, when I was thoroughly happy to be amongst new friends in a new land. So I shall hang onto those memories, and put the things that went wrong behind me, as best I can.

So here's to the pizzas, the seafood, the dancing hips and plump, damp lips. Here's to the moments when eyes smiled and things, for a short time, seemed eminently possible.

I'm actually looking forward to getting back to England though, and getting back home, which I never really expected. I'm going to buy a decent bike. And see what I can do to sell this damn book. And I'm going to meet some new people, goddammit. And I'm going to live. That's all I want really. I just want to live. And if I'm not very much mistaken, for the time being at least, I am very well placed to do just that. The world, after all, is my oyster. And it's a giant oyster, potentially packed with all manner of exotic jewels. Not just pearls. I don't particularly care for pearls.

So, I do believe it's lunchtime. Have a great weekend, whatever you're up to, and I'll see you back in the north of England next week. By the way, what are you up to? Anything di bello?

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Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Passaparola :: The Amazon Effect

I've learned quite a bit of Italian in the last couple of weeks. Obviously my phrasebook has been invaluable and thankfully, people here are extremely encouraging when you make an effort (much more so than in London for sure). One of the things I have learned is the word 'passaparola', which means 'by word of mouth'. It came up when someone asked me how I planned to publicise the book, what with me being anonymous and all. I tried to explain that hopefully (speriamo) people would like it and they would then tell their friends.

Then when I got back online last night, there was an email from the publicist lady asking me to encourage reviews on Amazon.

So. Here I go.

Ahem. If you happen to have read my book, and I know that a few of you have already, I would be enormously grateful if you would pop over to Amazon and tell the world what you think. Aw, go on – be the first! Or the second. Or whatever.

Incidentally, I am assured that Amazon neither hate nor fear homosexuals and that all that nonsense from a few weeks ago was merely a ghastly mistake, so please, no matter what you thought of the book, it would be really great if you could let the internet know. And tell your friends! (Actually, on second thoughts, if you didn't like it, just keep your mouth shut.)

Grazie mille.

Now, in other rotten news, things seem to have fallen through with Pea. She's double-booked for this evening and it's the only time I have free. It's a huge shame because, especially after the weirdness of Sicily, I was hoping that Pea would help me tie up the trip with a big, sexy ribbon of flesh, but it appears it's not to be.

So. There's nothing else for it. It's pizza time.

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Now And At The Hour Of Our Death

The following was scribbled yesterday morning, reverently, into a lachrymose notebook whilst waiting for a train to Palermo....

There is a tiny chapel in the train station of Agrigento and, I must say, very little else. Which is why I find myself sitting here at the back of this wholly deserted room, surrounded by the usual, enormously tasteful Catholic gewgaws and a sweetly patronising message from the Good Pope (the one before the Nazi). Also, because today is a national holiday in Italy, the train station is empty but for a few elderly American tourists, and here in this chapel, it's just me and this old bird...

Anything could happen.

Sadly, my time in Sicily has not been all good. It started out wonderfully, however, and everything was going great, until halfway through my second night, a couple of people with whom I had been getting on really enormously well turned on me, swore at me viciously, pushed me away and left me drunk and weeping in the middle of the night, in the middle of a strange town, without even the name of the hotel where we were staying. I’m still not sure why it happened, but I do know that it ruined the whole trip for me. Or at least this leg of the trip.

Actually, I do know why it happened – it happened because I made jokes about the relationship between our two nations, and because I was talking to a girl that one of the other men fancied. Imagine that. Me. Making someone jealous.

I don’t want to say anything else about it here as I’m going to write to the two people involved and see what they have to say about it in the cold light of day. I'm still reeling from it all actually, and it's left a very sour, and very sad, taste in my mouth.

But life goes on, and I suppose, on the bright side, one day it’ll give me something interesting to write about. But not now. For now at least, we forget, and we move on, back up North to Faenza and hopefully, everything crossed, to the adorable Pea.

Now, come on, Mary, you old bugger! Give me your goddamn blessing!

Thanks, love.

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Rome Alone

The following was scrawled sweatily into a damp notebook last Friday in transit....

So I’m in Italy for two reasons. One is that an old friend is getting married in Sicily. More on that later. The other is that I was invited to a city called Faenza by a reader of this here blog. So I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone. Then two birds turned into a third bird as my new friend in Faenza passed me on to a friend of his in Rome. So, armed with a letter of introduction – much like a character in a Victorian novel – I made my way South to what is almost definitely the most beautiful urban setting I’ve ever experienced.

My host in Rome was a charming Italian chap called Paride, which as far as I can work out is the Italian for Paris, as in ancient Greece, rather than France or Texas. Paride has a friend who owns a B&B on the outskirts of Rome and this is where I stayed. Unfortunately Paride has a very busy life and a baby with a fever so I ended up spending more time alone in the city than would have been ideal. But for the most part this was no chore and I managed to have myself a good time.

However, I have to say, I don’t think Rome is a great city in which to be alone. But then what city is? I suppose then, what I mean is, it would be a wonderful city in which to be in love. But then what city wouldn’t?

OK, let’s start again.

Rome is a very romantic city. So much to see and do; so much space in which to prance around; old men playing accordion all over the place; bridges and hills and restaurants and roses, and although I was thrilled to be there, I also felt lonely. And besides that, I felt a little apart from everything, locked out of what was really going on. I guess I felt like a foreigner. At one point I found myself wandering around the Jewish quarter, and I felt more locked out still. Not only could I not speak Italian, but also, I had a big floppy godless foreskin and my skull, but for slowly thinning hair and hot and cold running elbows, was bare.

Also, it was there in the Jewish quarter that I happened to glance up at an open window in an ancient building above me. Inside was a high-ceilinged apartment with a book-lined wall and warm copper light seeping out into the balmy night. I craned my neck and stared, thinking, 'I want to live there'. And I felt sad.

I definitely want to live in another country. I still fancy the idea of Amsterdam but I suppose there is more to life than getting wrecked and staring at prostitutes with an unsettling combination of longing and self-loathing. So maybe I should try and move to Italy. The language is wonderful – it's often described as a sing-song language but for me it dances – and I'm beginning to feel that it would be a terrible sin to go through life without being able to communicate in something apart from English. It feels like it's almost a responsibility to master another tongue and in doing, to carve out another personality, another life.

Indeed, so far, if this trip has done anything, it's made me feel, very strongly, that my life is nowhere near large enough. It's an enormous world and I really need to experience a lot more of it before I die....

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