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.

Sunday, September 24, 2017





Johnny Tranter.

Where the hell to start? I suppose the beginning is as good place as any. I won't pretend to be any kind of expert when it comes to the life and times of Johnny Tranter. When his face seemed to be a permanent feature on the front page of every tabloid newspaper or trashy celebrity magazine, I generally tried to make a point of avoiding reading a single word.
I genuinely couldn't care less who he was seen out with or what drug he had been caught taking or who he had scored against. I despise football and the national obsession with vacuous celebrities in equal measure.

So, no. I never gave a shit about Johnny bloody Tranter. Well. Not until everything changed. Not until he suddenly morphed into a very English fascist.

But I am getting ahead of myself here. I promised the beginning so it is to the beginning I will go. John Tranter was born in Stoke on Trent in 2004. He was the result of a one night stand which his mother couldn't really remember anything about. His mum had a lot of nights like that. Johnny's older brother Terry was also conceived in similar circumstances.

Johnny's Mum was a troubled woman. She had been taken from her own parents at the age of twelve and travelled down the well-trodden road from care to crime to single motherhood. Her time as a party girl only lasted a couple of years. Then her life became a drawn out misery of heroin and booze. Johnny and Terry spent more than half their boyhood years in a succession of foster homes. Terry miraculously emerged as a rather sensible young man who would become an electrician. Johnny was the flip side. He hit every stereotype target. Truancy. Fighting. Shop lifting. Vandalism. Boosting cars. Three times he served time in Young Offenders prisons. And yet through all these years of general mayhem, one thing set him apart from the bad company he kept.


And Johnny Tranter wasn't just good at football. He was borderline genius.

Stoke City had him in their academy at the age of twelve and over the next five years they refused to give up on him no matter how much of a pain in the neck he was. The bottom line ruled supreme. If only they could get a leash on him, then one day they would be able to cash him in for north of £50 million.

Before 20 February 2021 nobody outside of Stoke had ever heard of Johnny Tranter. In Stoke itself, he was something of an urban myth. A conversation to be had in Friday night pubs. The young lad in the under 18's who might just be a George Best in the making. Right bloody bad lad, mind. Been locked up three times. But shit hot.
After 20 February 2021, a whole lot more people became aware of Johnny Tranter.

Millions in fact.

Stoke were playing a home game against Manchester United who were a point clear at the top of the Premier League. The visitors cruised into a 2-0 lead and when Stoke's Croatian striker was crocked on the stroke of half time the sell-out crowd held little optimism.
A small stir went through the more knowledgeable fans when the tannoy announced the substitute for Miloslav Lucic.

Number 52. Johnny Tranter.

Johnny raced around like a hunting dog on crystal meth. He brought the crowd to their feet with a scything challenge which earned him a yellow card.

In the sixty-first minute he latched onto a hopeful through ball, brought it under control with the outside of his right foot, left the goal keeper for dead with a dummy and rolled the ball into the back of the net.

Stoke 1 – United 2.


73 minutes. Johnny won the ball fairly with a bone jarring tackle in the centre circle. He jumped to his feet like a ballet dancer and threaded a perfect through ball to the Stoke right winger who duly beat the United keeper with a low cross shot.

Huge howling ground shaking noise.

88 minutes. A corner to Stoke. A cleared header to the edge of the box and the waiting Johnny Tranter. A ferocious dipping volley into the top corner. And instead of running to the home fans, Johnny Tranter made a beeline for the visiting supporters flicking 'V' signs every step of the way whilst screaming obscenities which were not remotely hard to lip read. The United centre half, a man at least seven inches taller and a stone heavier than Johnny Tranter, stepped into his path to give him a piece of his mind. And then the big defender was down on the ground thrashing with agony and clutching a damaged eye.

Vast noise. More or less all-out war on the pitch. Johnny Tranter sent off and dragged off with a fist held up in triumph for the baying fans.

Final whistle. Stoke 3 – United 2 and a legend born.

The FA threw the book at him and banned him for 15 matches. Stoke said they were appalled whilst at the same time selling 5000 'Tranter 52' shirts in the five days after the match.

Johnny Tranter sold his story to anyone who would buy it. It seemed like everyone in the town had a story of their own to tell. Absence made the heart grow fonder. By the time he played his second first team game, he was already a celebrity. In the next four years he scored 62 goals for Stoke, got sent off 7 times and served three extended bans. Barely a weekend passed without his face appearing on the front pages. The reporters couldn't get enough of the nightclub fights and drunken rampages. In 2022 his mum sold her own story one time too many and died of a massive overdose.

Some wondered if such a terrible loss might make Johnny Tranter take stock and set his life onto a more even keel. It didn't. Instead, he dived into an ultra-destructive relationship with a singer who claimed to be the Queen of 'Hip-hop Punk' and went by the name Lucy X.

The love birds were photographed snorting copious amounts of cocaine in a London nightclub which was enough for the FA to hand down a six-month ban.

Johnny failed to keep up with the fitness programme the club demanded of him. When he played his first comeback game for the Under 23's he ruptured his cruciate ligaments in the twenty-third minute.

For a while, it seemed he might manage to recover and resurrect his career. But he didn't. Instead, he disappeared into a fog of drink and drugs. The tabloids didn't care whether he played football or not. His celebrity was already set in stone. He was always to be found on some reality TV programme or another where he invariably disgraced himself, which of course only made him bigger box office.

Lucy X died of a sudden and massive cocaine induced heart attack in 2027 and Johnny found a hundred different ways to cash in on his grief. By now he had developed a reasonably articulate laddish persona. Talk shows loved having him on to beep, beep, beep his way through the story of his fast lane life. He was never so happy-go-lucky once the love of his life had shuffled off her mortal coil. A smouldering rage was never so very far from the surface. In late 2027 he was sentenced to six months for assaulting an interviewer who had got a little too close to the bone.

He served three months. It was a period of cold turkey for the tabloids and the celebrity magazines. From the moment he was locked up they negotiated furiously with his agent to win the exclusive rights to undertake the first interview on his release. The Sun blew the competition out of the water and had everything set up and ready on the day Johnny Tranter was liberated. He stepped out of jail and into a waiting limo amidst a fury of clicking cameras and shouted questions.

Long before he sat down with the interviewer from the Sun, the social media was filled with all kinds of speculation. Some thought he had filled out. Hours in the prison gym maybe? Then there was his hair. The chaotic flowing locks were gone. The new Johnny was sporting a severe crew cut. Was it his choice or had the warders pinned him to a chair and shaved him? Many commented on his calm demeanour. There was no punching the air, no pushing photographers hard in the chest, only a closed and focused expression.
Had prison changed him? Broken him? Had he turned over a new leaf? Had he found God? Would he try to resurrect his career?

The Sun had decided to live stream the interview from a room in a nearby hotel. Hundreds of thousands of celebrity junkies logged on to hear what the nation's favourite bad boy had to say.

And yet despite all of the anticipation and hype, nobody had the first idea of just what a game changer Johnny's interview would be.

The cameras started to roll. Johnny was sitting on a hotel bed with a cigarette in one hand and a can of beer in the other. Immediately online comment started to flow. Just look how serious he looks. Look at his eyes. Have they disabled the smoke alarm? Look how still he is.

And he was still. Stone statue still. His dark eyes bored into the camera. Through the camera. People reported fear. At the eyes. At the new Zen Johnny.

Jake Tanner checked with his cameraman and got the ball rolling.

So. Johnny. You're out. How was prison?”

For fuck's sake. How do you think it was?”

I don't know. I haven't been to prison.”

No. Course you haven't. So I guess you're the kind of prick who believes all the shit your paper writes about prison. A piece of cake, yeah? Too soft. Too easy. Like being on holiday. Is that right?"

Well. I don't......”

No, you don't. You don't because you're a prick with a degree who knows nothing about anything. Tell you what Jake. Film that twat standing by the door. Go on. Put him on screen..."

Go on. It's OK.”

The camera swung round to reveal a hulking figure in a suit which looked at least three sizes too small. No neck. Wrapped and ready for the doors of a nightclub. Then the viewers were taken back to the man of the hour.

Shitting it are we, Jake? Need a minder? Worried Johnny's going to twat you like I did that other dickhead?"

Well, it's just...."

Oh fuck off. I know what you are. All of you." He angrily lit a new cigarette. "Prison was shit, Jake. This was my fourth stretch and every time it gets worse, not better. More over crowded, worse grub, more lock down, more fights. Does that make prison any different from everything else in this shitty country? No. It's just more of the same. It goes with the pot holes in the roads and unemptied bins and the poor bastards sleeping in doorways. It goes with the three-year hospital waiting lists and the foodbanks and the starvation level benefits. The prisons have gone to shit just like the country has gone to shit."

But you look well Johnny. Fit.”

A harsh, barked laugh. “Do I? How nice. Like my haircut do you? Maybe you've noticed I'm not twitching like I've got an electric cable up my arse? Few extra pounds? Bit of muscle? Well Jake, that's what time in the gym and no cocaine can do for a man.”

The interviewer was struggling to find the right tone for this new version of Johnny Tranter.

How did you spend your days?”

I read a lot." A bitter, mocking smile. "Just look at you for fuck's sake. Stop the press. Johnny Tranter can read! Well just because I barely went to school doesn't mean I'm thick. Maybe if I'd had a cushy life like you Jake, I might have gone to university as well and had my picture taken looking like a smiling twat on graduation day. But I didn't. I went into care and I played for fucking Stoke. Doesn't mean I can't read though. Doesn't make me thick as pig shit. Wanker."

What kind of....”

All sorts. Political stuff mainly. I knocked about with a few of the lads from the EFP. They pointed me in the right direction."

Jake felt ice water on his spine. This thing wasn't even close to going how it was supposed to go. The EFP? For Christ's sake.

I see. Have you always been a supporter of the England First Party or is this a new thing? A result of your reading?"

I was too off my face to be a supporter of anything other than what I was going to shove up my nose next. For the first time in years I have a clear head. Of course, I've always known how shit everything is. Course I have. I grew up in fucking Stoke, didn't I? I just never gave a flying fuck about any of it. Those EFP lads opened my eyes a bit. Got me thinking about things. Let's just say they got my attention."

And is this something you will be pursuing now you are a free man again?”

A slow nod. “Yeah. I reckon it is.”

So what do you see now you are looking at the world with new eyes.”

I see a country which is more or less completely fucked and it pisses me off.”

Who do you blame for this?”

Another stupid fucking question. Jesus. Who do you think I blame Jake? The fucking Government of course. Who the fuck else should I blame? Maybe you can enlighten me? After all, the shitty rag you work for seems to think these Tories are the dog's bollocks. Fuck the poor so long as the rich get a new yacht every six months. Right, Jake?"

The big man by the door shuffled a little. And behind the blank eyes there was a sliver of concern. Fair enough he had at least five stones on the guy sitting on the bed but even so.....

Jake carried on like a man walking head down into a raging storm. He already knew just how much his bosses were going to hate this.

Are there any policies of the Government which cause you particular concern, Johnny?"
This provoked a burst of mocking laughter. "Just fucking listen to you." Johnny adopted a mincing sort of voice. "........any policies cause you particular concern, Jake? Not policies. Not a plural. Just policy. One policy."

I see....

They should never have allowed those fucking Scottish bastards to have their independence.”

Oh. Right. Can I ask.....”

You paid for it. It wouldn't be fair if I didn't give you your money's worth. Right, Jake? So here's how I see it. For hundreds of years we held their hands and wiped their fucking arses. We were the foster carers and they were the kid from the shit home. For years we subsidised them and mollycoddled them. Fuck knows why. And then? Then these clowns in Parliament allow them to waltz away. Worse than that, we are now paying through the nose every time we switch on a light. Not that the likes of you are bothered are you, Jake? You don't have to worry about paying the leccy bill. All you need to worry about is whether it will be Barbados or Florida next winter. Well, it's different for people who live in places like Stoke. They don't get the chance to plan for fucking Florida or fucking Barbados. They just work all hours for absolutely fuck all and what bit of brass they have all goes up north to fucking Scotland."

For a moment Jake Tanner was lost for anything to say. He took a breath. He recovered some composure.

You seem very angry about this Johnny."

Course I'm angry. Every decent patriotic Englishman should be angry.”

Do you intend to allow this anger you have found to guide you now you are free?”

Another burst of derisive laughter.

Oh well done, Jake. Jolly well fucking done. I know what you want me to say of course. You want me to give you a bit of trash talk. About how if I run into some smug Jock bastard I will kick ten bells of shit out of him. Put him down. And keep him down. Well, I'm not about to say anything like that Jake because that would be against the law, wouldn't it Jake? And that kind of talk would only get me locked up again for inciting hatred, wouldn't it Jake? And only a complete dickhead would be stupid enough to say anything like that on a live stream being watched by so many people, right Jake? So instead I'll just say fuck you very much you public school twat. I think we're all done here. And you can shove your poxy limo up your arse. I'll find my own way."

And with that Johnny Tranter got up and left leaving a somewhat stunned Jake to do the wrap-up.

The viewing figures were off the scale. The nation took a gasp at this new frightening version of bad boy Johnny Tranter. Ten days later he addressed his first EFP rally in a vacant factory in Walsall. The organisers had crossed their fingers and hoped to get a couple of hundred. They had made plans about how they could make a clever film of Johnny Tranter’s speech which would make the audience look five times bigger than it really was. As it turned out their plans were not required. Over 3000 crammed into the dusty space. And after 40 minutes, Johnny Tranter had them baying for blood.

For Scottish blood.

It turned out the care home boy had the same talent for public speaking as he had once shown in flashes on the green lawn-like pitches of the Premier League.

For nearly a hundred years the English Establishment had boasted of its ability to stop potential Fascists in their tracks. England didn't do Fascism. Never would. MI5 and the Special Branch and the newspapers would see to it. Any potential leader who so much as flickered into the public eye like Nick Griffin would be turned into a laughing stock within a matter of months. Over blown public school types in expensive suits like Oswald Moseley or Nigel Farage were allowed more leeway. They were no real threat. They were deemed to be far too posh to incite a riot.

Nobody saw Johnny Tranter coming. He was just another celebrity treading the boards of reality TV. A bad boy footballer. A complete nothing. A council estate thug made good. A flash in the pan.

They missed him. He ghosted by them just like he had once ghosted by international defenders earning over £100,000 a week. One minute he was a busted flush in jail. The next minute he was packing out halls from Cornwall to Tyneside. And suddenly there were a whole lot of people buying the hate Johnny Tranter had to sell.

In June 2028 the EFP won 23% of the vote in a by election in East Lancashire and the ruling parties started out on a collective nervous breakdown.

A very English fascist had arrived on the scene and nobody had the first clue what to do about it.




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