Merry Christmas (VAR is over)

Charlie George Arsenal goal celebration 1971 FA Cup final vs Liverpool

First off, congratulations to Liverpool, the best team in at least Britain this year by a country mile. A great triumph, I’m delighted that it wasn’t the case in 1971.

Just get on with it…

Second, there are more important things around at the moment in the world, but the empty stadiums have somehow managed to magnify and accentuate the dire problems that football governing bodies are creating for themselves right now.

I have always loved football, even when I didn’t know better and had a Man City kit as a small kid because I liked the light blue top. That was when Man City had no money and were rubbish. How times change. My Dad supported QPR, what was I to do? Follow his lead or follow my own path?

Then Charlie George changed my football life.

I have never been to an FA Cup final, but oh boy the 1971 final, Arsenal v Liverpool, would have been the one to cash in a pile of tickets to go and see. Charlie George was majestic that day, imperious, commanding, spraying dangerous passes from midfield, buccaneering forward to let off a few long range rockets.

And then the Snow Angel Moment.

In extra time after he’d lashed home what proved to be the winner. Collapsing on the floor spreadeagled, his unspoken words, Yup, that’s how goood I am. Captivating.

That was the moment. When I became a Gooner.

My love for the club has not diminished over the years, it has kept strong, helped by the merry band of Henry & Co. and despite agonising dips and painful moments (I give you the Champions League final). They have often done stuff the hard way – That Moment in 1989 is one of the best examples. If you’re going to do it at all, please make sure you leave it more or less to the final kick of the game. Nick Hornby, take a bow for capturing the pain and the ecstasy.

My choice was rewarded by the footballing Gods when Charlie was the Legend on my Legends Tour of the Emirates. (Awesome! Like being a kid again.)

So, what’s my problem?

Three nasty little letters. V. A. R.

And two words: Handball and Offside (the main VAR issues).

My cosy little arrangement with Arsenal to scare me to death watching them – often in glorious failure – is being torpedoed by these things.

The equation is straightforward:

Football is a sport played by and refereed by human beings (for now). Human beings make mistakes. What to do about that?

The answer is not to use technology to eliminate EVERY SINGLE MISTAKE ON THE PITCH EVER. Ask Sheffield United about the Hawkeye goal-line technology (I am a fan of that tech which had been faultless until the recent debacle against Villa, but it supports my point: nothing is infallible).

That means the Powers That Be, bless them, need to get a grip before they kill the game as a spectacle.

VAR is purportedly there to get rid of stupid, obvious errors, not to take five or more minutes to pore over a video fifty times to see if one pubic hair of an attacker was in an offside position.

I guarantee that normal fans do not give a damn. Offered a choice of 100% accuracy against a free-flowing game, they would absolutely go for free-flowing. The issue that needs to be grappled with and put into a locked box on the ocean floor is that the game is the important thing, not the micro-millimetres…The argument that the money in the game makes it important to get it faultless is misguided: any cock-ups wash out over time, just get rid of obvious howlers…(If they’re not obvious, it’s not a howler.)

Yes, VAR is fledgling technology, but it is how it is applied that is the disaster area (not how it is said that it is applied).

Give the VAR referee say twenty seconds (and some Prozac: no pressure) to review an incident. If they can’t say it’s a clear and obvious error, then play on.

Until then, I will keep an avuncular eye on My Boys, but at a distance. I’ll keep my Red membership, I’ll watch them but VAR has turned off the excitement:

Gooooooal! Celebrate! Over-rule. Wait to celebrate then. Look over your shoulder after scoring, wait for it, wait for it…Maybe celebrate now? As a fan, that does not work, waiting to be told that it’s OK to yell…It’s all about the immediate adrenalin rush, not being given permission to get excited.


My BT Sport subscription: Cancelling.

My Sky Sports subscription: Cancelling.

Match of the Day when things normalise more: Maybe every now and again to see if the boredom has abated.

Sad but true. I don’t want perfection, unless it’s in the form of a Charlie George screamer, not grey suits sweating not to make a mistake over the odd pixel.

Merry Christmas.

Arsenal Bear football cuddly teddy bear
Difficult to bear…

Behind The Scenes – Behind The Typewriter

Alan Camrose with beard

Author Interview

This interview is reprinted from the one that I took part in for Jazzy Book Reviews during last week’s book / blog tour for my new book Lost In Plain Sight:

1.       What would you consider to be your Kryptonite as an author?

Gin (even with tonic)…

2.       If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Just get it down, then stress about it. I still need to yell that sometimes at myself…

3.       What book do you feel is under-appreciated? How about overrated?

Difficult. I have my opinions on books, but we’re all entitled to our opinions, right? I’m not too bothered if I’m in the minority or the majority.

4.       Favorite childhood memory involving books?

Discovering Isaac Asimov, or as an only child trying to re-enact bits of the Lord Of The Rings in the back garden.

5.       If you could dine with any literary character, who would it be and why?

See below about my fictional friend!

6.       What fantastical fictional world would you want to live in (if any) given the chance?

That’s a tough one, but I’ll plump for the absurdities, wonder and awesomeness of the Discworld. But only if I could be head of the City Watch.

7.       Did you want to be an author when you grew up?

Yes. Being a lawyer in the intervening period from not being grown up to being a bit more grown up has allowed me the privilege of having a go at it…

8.       If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Me: creativeirreverentobsessive

My wife when I asked her about me: stubbornannoyingobsessive

All a question of perception, I’d say…

I’m not even going there with my nineteen-year-old twins, but grumpy would no doubt feature as one …

9.       What is your most unusual writing quirk?

Writing while my Burmese cat drapes herself on the right side of my chest and sleeps. That causes problems of course: I need to choose a lot of words on the QWERTY side of the keyboard…

10.   What’s one movie you like recommending to others?

Has to be Die Hard. Yippee-ki-yay!

11.   If you could own any animal as a pet, what would it be?

Drogon from GOT’s looking good. I stopped being afraid of heights a while ago.

12. Have you ever met anyone famous?

Not really.

13.       What is the first book that made you cry?

Black Beauty.

The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett) made me cry with laughter. It was my first exposure to his extraordinary perspective on the world. (Bambi was the first movie that made me cry when I was a kid, and I vividly remember Gallipoli as a teenager…)

14.       How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?

I’ve written two.

The novel, Lost In Plain Sight, took around two years or so to write; the collection of ultra-ultra-short stories much less time. I’m hoping for about twelve months for my next novel (currently in production at Chapter 4 [now 20]…).

15.       How do you select the names of your characters?

They just come, probably from people around me, the media, whatever. It then takes a while to get comfortable with them if they’re major characters. My half-human character, Meyra, in LIPS started as Grace (too serene for what I wanted), then Miranda (too witchy) before settling on Meyra (Other, without being too odd). Sam Franklin came straightaway. And Pagoda? Well, that’s my cat’s name…

16.       What creature do you consider your “spirit animal” to be?

A Giant Panda – they seem pretty chilled.

17.       What are your top 5 favorite movies?

Favourite rather than best, I hasten to add:

Die Hard (see above)


Blade Runner



18.       If you were the last person on Earth, what would you do?

Find an iconic place to do a Charlton Heston impression and yell something iconic. Not the Statue of Liberty, he’s already done that. Mind you, it might take me a while to get to New York from Surrey.

19.       What fictional character would you want to be friends with in real life?

Sam Vimes (from Discworld). Although, given my answer about where I ‘d want to live, I would want his job, so that might cause friction…

20. What book do you wish you had written?

I like the books I’ve written and am writing, but I love The Old Man And The Sea (Hemingway) for sheer bang for word-buck. The simplicity of the language, the timeless themes, the bleakness and the hope, all wrapped up in such a compact package. Awesome.

21. Tell us 10 fun facts about yourself! 

My Joker wig is in a hat box in my wardrobe, just in case. I keep my other nine fun facts tied up in a purple bow next to it.

22. If you could live in any time period, what would it be and why?

Another wow question. Three immediate thoughts: in the 1920s, but only if I could be Bertie Wooster; mid-nineteenth century if I could invent something to get the industrial revolution going and be allowed to wear a stovepipe hat; as a 15th century explorer when anything was possible and there still might be dragons.

23. What is your favorite genre to read?

I love books that defy pigeon-holing. But if forced to choose, then it’s Fantasy. Or Thrillers (especially Noir). Probably Fantasy-thrillers. I need some humour in that, not just bleak and dark. If any Sci-fi comes along for the ride, then so much the better. And neo-Victorian, I like a bit of that. It’s very difficult. The Maltese Falcon’s Magic Blade Runner That’s Dreaming Of Electric Sheep. There. Perfect.

Check out Jazzy Book Reviews for a bunch of interesting stuff, including a blog and reviews:


Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website:

Daddy Lockdown 2: The Legend of the Lockdown

Swedigon temple Burma, images / statues of Buddha

Life is more complicated these days, not necessarily in ways we would expect. It has shown us the encrusted treasure map (encrusted with spilt curry) showing the way to the Sacred Vault Of Treasures and Wisdom.

In a stale fortune cookie delivered before the Lockdown and batted by the cat under the sofa was the following list of prophecies and wise sayings which have proved to be true and have come to pass:

Confucius, he said:

  • There’s no need to dial 111 if Ocado doesn’t deliver the promised tub of Phish Food.
  • Nor is there a setting on the Sat-Nav to figure out the whereabouts of the smallest saucepan, or indeed The Mythical Teaspoons From Antiquity. Alexa is on the side of the Sat-Nav on that one, in electronic solidarity.
  • No matter how many times everyone looks under the cushions, the identity of the villain who changed the Amazon account password to something obscure and then forgot it will be lost in the Eternal Mists of Forgetfulness. Even though the list of suspects is short and unchanging.
  • If anyone so much as peeks at something on the Interthingy, a horde of Visigoth suppliers will descend on you and besiege your computer hurling entreaties to buy a 100″ TV. Be warned!
  • It is possible to attempt the ‘I hate you’ teenager to parent per day world record on consecutive days for the whole of Lockdown.
  • It is important that opened tomato ketchup bottles are left out in direct sunlight for as long as possible to ensure a proper degree of crustiness, ideally when the top has been taken off for the first time. Bonus points for hiding the lid.
  • The dishwaher should not only be on for every second of the day , operated in the same way as chain-smoking but with washing tablets. As a rule of thumb, it is forbidden for anyone under the age of 20 to put anything into the machine or take anything out.
  • Sleeping is something to be done during the daylight hours or at night. In case of confusion, treat twilight and early dawn as either daylight or night. Short breaks from sleeping are permitted to allow access to the fridge.
  • The high priority items in any Sainsbury’s order are party food for seven-year-olds (to feed a pair of nineteen-year-olds).
  • Dirty laundry is precious and should be cherished and put away in sacred – obscure – places until its blessed revelation and its casting into the Washing Machine of Purification.

And the Eleventh and most important:

Four adults can co-exist in good humour and tolerance during this period of craziness and frustration (with a bit of letting off steam)

Raaaaaaargh! Letting off a bit of steam…

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website:


The Number Of The Beast: 0.8 to 25

Alan Camrose with beard

Welcome to my Blog at The HAIR Of The Camrose

It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, come with me on a further look around the Household during the Lockdown through Cousin It’s fringe

The nth + whatever week of Lockdown and Father has been wondering about the follicle-related issues in the Household but is not tonsure of the results

The Family has accumulated a lot of hair over the past few months of Lockdown (apart from Jasper the Retriever who is now in full-on shedding mode for the Summer, to increase the R number in the House (Rug number)).

It is now more appropriate to refer to:


Shaggy hair, shggy by nature, Zoinks scary!

Father has always been sub-optimal at gardening, but hair is something that he has been able to cultivate in the privacy of the House. Oh, yes.

Forget toilet paper supplies, the availability of personal grooming kits plummeted on Amazon in the early days of Lockdown. It was fuelled by crazed stockpilers. They had the determination to build up stocks of home barber kits, scissors (didn’t matter what size) and precision personal care systems (on a scale where non-precision is a strimmer). It was TOO MUCH of a temptation. Like collecting first-day covers or commemorative coins. All pristine and even now unopened.

But Father had a head start on all of them (not the Joker wig).

A few years ago, Mother-in-law bought him the Beast for Christmas. It may come in useful when you’re older: The mark of a visionary Christmas present and its ticket to the back of the wardrobe.

And now, the Beast has re-emerged.

The Beast is a Hair Clipper Gift Set. How Father laughed at the time. It has a Precision (that word again) Trimmer; an Ear-Nose Trimmer (presumably for if you feel your nose is too long or your ears too large, or you otherwise want to jam a miniature threshing machine up your nose or into your ears). It also has Precision (!) Blades in minute increments from 0.8 mm to 25 mm, 8 of them. Scissors, a barber comb, a Thumb-Adjustable Taper Lever (no, no idea).

It’s still in its packaging, in the brutally efficient-looking hard plastic carrycase that seems more suitable for an assassin to keep his silenced snap-together rifle. It’s black, of course, for added glamour.

Father is terrified of it.

When it is unleashed, it will howl and roar with the full fury of its three AAA batteries, and tear at Father’s hair and facial fur in an orgy of primitive topiary. It will make offerings of slabs of matted fluff to its ancient gods.

Father has fought it off for the moment, but the time will no doubt come when it is invoked by Mother, when Father is given a (probably justified), er, wigging about his facial furniture. She has already tackled her own head of hair in a modest and well-executed way, but Father truly believes that is a ruse to lull him into a false sense of security while she teams up with the Beast for a Shearing.

Would Father’s nineteen-year old Offspring join in? In a heartbeat. But they would only be able to do so over Father’s beautifully coiffured dead body. Anyway, they are looking after their own glut of tresses for the moment blossoming out of their heads at a frightening rate.

Resistance may be futile for Father, but until the Day Of The Beast, he stands firm (and furry).

The Lockdown has made us re-evaluate how we do many things, and hair maintenance is not exactly top priority, but this period has allowed a degree of freedom that cannot be restricted or spoiled by That Bastard Virus.

Role model for the well-haired

A BIG Thank You to the NHS, Emergency Services and Front-line workers for making the world a safer place. for all of us



Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website:

Daddy Lockdown

author / writer at play

It’s a Madhouse!

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose

It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, come with me on a journey around the Household during the Lockdown – forget the Olympics, it’s all here…


The nth week of Lockdown and Father has been re-evaluating his place in the Cosmic Order.

He thinks about the unexpected joys of the Offspring back from uni for an undefined and unknowable period, and the close bonding rituals that could therefore be entered into by the family to achieve a Nirvanic Utopia of harmony and shared purpose.

Then the need for another cocktail kicks in, one of the high points of the situation: a carte blanche to practise making cocktails at increasingly bizarre hours of the day. Father is the Cocktails Master, his signature chemistry experiment being an El Presidente – rum, vermouth, Grand Marnier and Grenadine, a twirl of orange peel, and see you tomorrow morning.

Not only that, his position as Regulator Of The Bins has been upgraded to Bin Czar. There was absolutely no competition whatsoever for the role, but with increased teenager presence (Father hesitates to use the word activity) it has become more of another career than a vocation. The increased fun of 4-D (with added aroma) Hide and Seek to Feed the Bins: searching for increasingly obscurely stashed ancient plastic and glass objects. Many dusted with a delicate layer of darkening yoghurt or a veneer of pasta sauce starting to glow in the shadows.

A joyous game for all the family to play.

Is Hide and Seek the correct comparison? Perhaps more a game of Jenga, where increasing archaeological layers of food are added to the sedimentary terrain until, finally, Father breaks.

When he breaks, he utters the magical words much sought after in the teenager community as the sign of a High Score: Where have all the bloody teaspoons gone?!

The answer of course lies in the Dark Regions of the Offsprings’ lairs.

There are other games that can be played with Father, to the extent that there’s no need to pine for the postponed Olympics when there’s a Pentathlon just sitting there at home, ready to go. All participants are certified to be at gold medal standard.

How about the High Hurdles?

The indoor version involves leaping over clothes carefully sorted into mountainous piles of mixed washed and unwashed clothes strewn between the bedroom door starting line to the finishing line at the window. As a word of warning, a lap of the room is not feasible except for parents who can fly.

The 4×100 Empty Box event, a test of Father’s nerve and resilience as empty cardboard boxes, cunningly disguised as part of the food supplies, are left lurking in out of the way cupboards. With. No. Food. Left. In. Them.

There’s also the Puss In Boots Eyes triple jump event in the pokey cupboard off the living room which houses all the Internet kit. Mummy joins the field on this one. Father particularly enjoys this sport, especially during the Lockdown when the country’s Internet resources are being taxed to the limit.

Once properly kitted out, all the contestants adopt a doleful, big-eyed stance (points are awarded for style) and take careful aim at Father with a brisk and accusing The Internet Isn’t Working. Like the sport of throwing the javelin but with a live target.

That is followed by the second element of the event: the deeply disappointed look. This is deployed when, after a record breaking 35 seconds of Father turning the router off and then on again – using his mystical (and unknowable to the rest of the household) Turn Off/Turn On Manoeuvre, the chant from the terraces is that the Internet Is Still Not Working.

The third and final phase has Father adopting enforced yoga and Turkish massage poses to fit into the Cupboard – the Shrine to the Interweb – with a bent paperclip and the Virgin manual written in Japanese to Reset The System.

Eventually, whether by Father’s efforts or the service provider quietly pressing a few buttons in their secret base to get rid of him, the Internet comes back on with the joyous return of Three White Lights, doing what it had been doing an hour ago.

There is no ticker-tape or open-top bus parade, instead a quick check of the stop watch by the participants to see what performance improvements could be achieved next time.

Finally, it’s onward to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Marathon, all the movies in chronological order.

With the whole family assembled.


Time for another cocktail.


Alan ?

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose writes books, this Blog and quizzes . His clones help him to find time to do all these things simultaneously. His coffee machine is set to intravenous. His golden retriever, Jasper, is set to Hungry Cute at all times. His cat – Pagoda – is like all cats, she doesn’t help him at all. Even though he is a certified cat-whisperer (more a cat-yeller). Pagoda rules the house with an iron claw. Alan lives with the rest of his family in Surrey. Please do visit him at his website:

Brighton Beach Memories

Brighton Pier across the pebbles

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose

It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…This time, come with me in the company of a psychopath to the seaside for a look around the place that inspired one of my books…

Please do SIGN UP to receive my free newsletters, quizzes, and other stuff from my lair. I will not bombard you, but will let you have access to stuff in the same way that I expect others to treat my Inbox…

Brighton hasn’t featured prominently in literature or movies with a few outstanding exceptions that I’ve looked at in this post. (Brighton Beach Memoirs doesn’t count since it’s in a foreign country) I have embedded info about various of the treats in store. Keep it to hand for the better times that are coming.

Pinkie Brown is a psychotic and ruthless underworld figure in Graham Greene’s classic 1938 novel, Brighton Rock (and the classic movie in 1948 (Richard Attenborough), and the re-make in 2010 with among others Helen Mirren – Official Trailer. Pinkie would be an unlikely poster-boy for the Brighton tourist trade. The  brawling tribes portrayed in Sixties Brighton in the movie Quadrophenia wouldn’t be on their shortlist either. (Official trailer)

To give you an idea of the menace that is in this book and the movies, imagine you’re the teddy bear:

Pagoda Cat menacing an innocent teddy bear
Bear in the cross-hairs

On a brighter note, Brighton prides itself on its eclectic cultural scene: a challenging marathon (which I have witnessed, I confess, as a supporter rather than a participant), and the legendary annual Brighton Naked Bike Ride (2019 details) where riders struggle to stow their gear. With the Palace Pier, the towering Needle city observation deck (the British Airways i360) and the barking mad architecture of the Brighton Pavilion, there’s a lot to see.

I have been going to Brighton throughout my life, first with my parents, often to the pitch & putt on the front when I was a kid. I achieved a keen grasp of ’99’ tasting. Then I went with friends, and now family and friends. The city has changed from a more traditional seaside town of ice cream, sticky rock and fish & chips to the newer, more wide-ranging, place to be. I found it was a natural choice for me to use Brighton and its local area as the main backdrop to my new fantasy-thriller, Lost In Plain Sight. I was drawn to it by my familiarity with the place, the excitement that it still gives me to go down there and crunch over the beach and visit the Regency fish restaurant on the seafront for some hake and chips. And an edge to the place, created by the ebb and flow of visitors to the city. Never the same twice.

The West Pier is my favourite landmark in Brighton. Visit the webpage and you’ll see its Goth allure. It used to be an elegant slice of seaside glamour, then fires and the elements conspired to bring it down before its redevelopment, leaving what now looks like a black rib-cage hovering in and above the sea, no longer a counterpoint to the Palace Pier, more a dwindling marker of past glory. 

The sea and the sky danced on the horizon, impossible to tell apart, the view broken only by the brooding, spidery remains of the burnt-out West Pier, soaking up sparkles from the water with grim determination.  

Lost In Plain Sight

Pinkie would’ve attacked it with sledgehammers to finish it off, but it sits there now, reluctantly crumbling into the sea. It’s a symbol of keeping going against all the odds. Like the investigation team in my book. 

Brighton has evolved over the years, its history a backdrop for greasy doughnuts, beer and cults of human sacrifice. Keep it in mind for a future escape during these difficult times. I’ll keep it in mind for future books.