Writing Clubland UK

When I was working on the doors, I never imagined that one day I’d be writing about it. The idea came about almost by accident, in fact. I had just left the army and was immersed in writing my military memoir, Squaddie: A Soldier’s Story. Never having written a book before, I decided to simply start from the very beginning of my life, from childhood onwards. When I got to my nightclub years, the memories flooded back and I wrote a couple of meaty chapters that jolted me with nostalgic adrenaline, of the sort that I used to feel nightly. It utterly pained me to cut them from Squaddie, but, as my publisher pointed out, I was writing a military book, not a true-crime one and the ‘bouncer stuff’ belonged in a different book.

I was dismayed but also secretly glad, as I realised I had been so focused on writing my army story I had almost overlooked an equally significant chapter in my life: my time as a doorman in Blackpool. This period was every bit as life-changing for me as my military service and taught me just as much. And that is how Clubland UK was born – the results of which eventually found their way onto the shelves in 2013. I wrote it in fits and starts over a three-year period and completed several drafts before I was finally happy with it. I never imagined it would take so long, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes. The important thing is that you get there in the end.

Clubland UK was a difficult and emotional book for me to write, but a necessary one; when you’re forced to confront and analyse life-changing decisions that you’ve made – in a bold black-and-white print that streams from your consciousness – well, it gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘clarity’. I deliberately wrote the book in a harsh language because that is how we communicated back then. It is not how I speak or think today, but out of respect for the young hothead that I was, and his story, I reverted back to that rawness and coarseness. I became reacquainted with my old self. And yes, it does embarrass me – but hey, that was me, once upon a time.


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