I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Friday, March 8, 2013


There’s no getting away from the fact that Quiet Desperation is a pretty crazy book. In fact it is a very crazy book. Without any shadow of a doubt it is the craziest book this author has ever come up with. Sometimes when I am asked along to give talks to book clubs and the like I get asked questions along the lines of ‘what’s the hardest thing about writing a book’.There are plenty of answers to this one but for me it is the whole business of the back cover. Think about it. You bash away at the keyboard for however long and then you have to shrink down 300 pages into a couple of snappy paragraphs which will fit on the back cover along with the barcode.

I absolutely hate it and no matter how much I mess about with the words they never seem remotely right. This of course is one of the many joys of publishing on Kindle as you are given a whole lot more space to try and convince the prospective reader that your efforts are worth shelling out for.

But even with the acres of typing space offered up by Amazon to tell the reader what they are in for, it was still all but impossible to put much of a handle onto Quiet Desperation.

So what’s it about then?

Basically it tells the tale of a madcap lunatic world and\ the endless loathing Liverpool fans like me feel for our hated rivals from the other end of the Manchester Ship Canal. It's all about how this visceral mutual hatred hooks up with the ‘War on Terror’.

How and why?

Maybe I was just going through some sort of mid life crisis. Maybe it was having to grit my teeth and watch the Forces of Darkness from their Mordor like lair in Salford reach their Holy Grail of 19 league titles. Maybe it was the gnawing sick feeling of having to watch from my seat in the stands as the greatest football club on planet earth was asset stripped by a pair of carpet bagging, money grubbing scum of the earth Americans. Maybe it was all kinds of things.

Let’s go back to basics. There is a well founded school of thought that suggests that it is a good idea for any author to choose to write about stuff that they care about. Fair enough. Not many would argue the toss on that one. From the day I first walked into Anfield as a wide eyed eleven year old way back in 1971, there has been nothing in life beyond kids and close family that has mattered to me remotely as much as Liverpool Football Club. I reckon I have done quite a lot with my fifty two years and counting. I’ve travelled a goodly part of the globe, got a degree, run a couple of businesses, managed a charity, been a dad, written 21 books, all sorts. And course there have been lots of highs and lows along the way. But take away birth of kids, and the highest of the highs was the miracle of Istanbulon 25 May 2005. Hillsborough stadium 15 April 1989 was the lowest of all lows. Bar none.

So writing books about Liverpool FC has been something of a no brainer. To date there have been four of them. ‘The Drums of Anfield’, ‘The Long and Winding Road to Istanbul’, ‘King Kenny’s Revolution’ and ‘Quiet Desperation.’ To be honest they are the easiest books in the world to write. It's what you get when you write about something that you care about.

But none of this comes close to getting to bottom of why on earth I cam up with a tale of one of football’s deepest and blackest of rivalries getting mixed up with the War on Terror. Well I’ll give it a shot.

I guess the first seeds for Quiet Desperation were sown in a couple of games in the Nineties by which time Sir Alex Fergusson had very much succeeded in delivering his promise to knock us ‘off our fucking perch’. Match One. Anfield in the depths of the Souness era. A swaggering United were 3-0 up within twenty minutes and Peter Schmeichel gloatingly orchestrated the invading hordes of visiting Mancs as they sang ‘It’s so fucking easy, it’s so fucking easy…’. Utter, complete and absolute bastards. I really don’t have the words to describe the feeling of primordial triumph I felt when Neil Ruddock all but broke the net with a header after 80 minutes to make it three all. I just remember screaming incoherently at the massed ranks of Mancs like a complete Berserker. And I wasn’t on my own. We all were as one in an explosion of sheer loathing. The white heat of Tribalism.

1999. FA cup at Old Trafford. The black beating heart of Mordor. 10,000 of us. 60,000 of them. And for 90 minutes Liverpoolplayed the bastards of the park and we sang them into their accustomed silence. And then they went and scored twice in stoppage time and all of a sudden the 60,000 exploded into life like some vast monster rising up from a fetid swamp in a Speilberg movie. Dyonne was 12 at the time and the abject look of despair on his young face was a sight I won’t forget in a hurry. All around us were twisted, gloating, crowing, jumping, dancing Mancs hurling coins at us and rubbing it in. There is nothing on planet earth that I hate more than a crowing Manc. And at that moment a trickle of iced water made its way down my spine as a dark, dark truth came to me. For I knew that if someone had handed me a grenade at that moment of umra black intensity, I might well have pulled the pin and tossed it over the fence.

Just like a terrorist would.

Just like a Jihadist would.

And for a few seconds the hate filled air and sound seeped into my bones and my soul and all sense of right and wrong and morality flew out of the window. I was in the lower depths.

Oh my oh my, it’s the very essence of the dark side!

And those who have no interest in football and have never joined a tribe kind of look at you as if you are a complete nutter and they shake their heads and point out that it is only a game. For Christ’s sake.

Next up. The news. Think about it, every time we get to see a BBC reporter in their flak jacket talking to the camera in Iraq or Afghanistan or Mali or Libya or Lebanon or Syria or Gaza or any of the places where the suicide bombers grow and evolve, what do we see when we pause the TV and check out the angry young men in the crowd behind? We see Liverpoolshirts. And we see United shirts. Old ones bearing the names of old, half forgotten sponsors. The shirts are generally old and faded. They look like shirts that have been worn every single day for a long, long time. Sure these are lads who have never been within a thousand miles of either Anfield or Mordor, but it doesn’t matter. They are a part of the tribe. Warriors for the light in Anfield red and the forces of darkness in Mordor red.

And no doubt if we ever got the chance to watch a fly on the wall documentary about those tasked with fighting on the other side of the War on Terror, we would see much the same picture emerge. We would see all those militiamen from Baghdadand Beruit take off their body armour and pull on their red shirts.

But how would it play out should these guys ever have to choose? Would it be martyrdom for their God and the chance of 72 virgins? Or would it be martyrdom for King Kenny or Sir Alex?

These of course are dark and pretty unacceptable thoughts. So when it came to turning the whole thing into a book it seemed only right and proper to make it into a Black Comedy. This is an area where we Brits have plenty of previous. My favourite example of this kind of thing is Evelyn Waugh’s‘Decline and Fall’ which hit the bookshops in 1928. When it comes to being completely politically incorrect, Evelyn Waugh is in something of a class of his own. His story is about an unassuming kind of lad who gets drawn into a mad world of crime and prison. I didn’t think good old Evelyn would be all that bothered about me half inching his template, what with him being dead and all that, so I stole it.

My unassuming guy is Cuthbert Gosling and he blunders into an equally crazy lunatic world where the War on Terror and the long feud between Scouser and Manc get all wrapped up together.

We human beings are generally the most ridiculous of mammals. We can be OK at times but more often at not we behave dreadfully. I will defer to William Shakespeare who as per usual was able to describe this in a single, mind bogglingly brilliant line

“Man, proud man, dressed in a little brief authority, like an angry ape, plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven as make the angels weep”

How good is that? Wow. It’s what we do and there are few apes as angry as the Scousers and the Mancs when we face each other across the police lines on a Saturday afternoon.

And let’s face it, angry apes can be pretty funny at times.

So what did I end up writing on the back cover?



If you support Manchester United – DON’T DOWNLOAD
If you don’t like the blackest of black comedy - DON’T DOWNLOAD
If you like books to be politically correct - DON’T DOWNLOAD
If you think it is wrong to take the Mick out of the CIA and MI6- DON’T DOWNLOAD
If you think it is wrong to take the Mick out of Al Queda - DON’T DOWNLOAD
If you think it is wrong to take the Mick out of organised crime - DON’T DOWNLOAD

But if you’re a Koppite, then you should download it and take the craziest ride in the park. ‘Quiet Desperation’ takes the reader deep into a mad, mad world where the War on Terror meets the age old battle between Scouser and Manc. The story careers at breakneck speed from the mountains of Afghanistan to an Uzbek torture centre to the cloisters of Cambridge University to Langley,Virginia to small town Scotland to the shimmering African waters of Lake Turkana to the terraced streets of Anfield.

Reds supporters from all over the world have read and enjoyed Mark Frankland’s previous Liverpool FC books ‘The Long and Winding Road to Istanbul’ and ‘The Drums of Anfield’ – none will be disappointed by ‘Quiet Desperation’

In the end we must all remember that those on either side of the War on Terror like their football. Some are Koppites. And some are Mancs. And sometimes the football comes before the day job......

You’ll laugh when you really shouldn’t laugh. And you’ll not put it down.

Fancy a read? You download it for free right here


No comments:

Post a Comment