Tuesday, 9 December 2014


Considering I’ve written two books in blog form, I’m pretty bad at blogging. It has been months since I last wrote anything on here. I do have genuine excuses – deadlines, dodgy health, Football Manager 2015, but the time for excuses is over. It is time to blog.

I recently visited Gosford Hill School where I am Patron of Reading. I met the Year Eight boys’ book group. They had just read Joe Cowley and had loads of great questions for me. I think they were slightly disappointed that the wee balloons bit wasn’t based on a true story, though.

After that, I ran a writing workshop with a class of Year Eight boys. We started off by writing ten word stories before expanding them into longer ones. There were some excellent ideas and some quite frankly bizarre ones. And this is from someone who recently gave some serious thought to writing a story about a haunted settee.
Anyway, I had a fantastic time and I’m looking forward to reading some of the finished stories that may come out of our session. And, if they go on to become best-selling novels with block buster film adaptations, I will only ask for seventy per cent of the profits. Pretty reasonable, I think.
Now, as a Patron of Reading, it is only right that I should recommend some books. This year has been pretty full-on, so I haven’t read as much as I would have liked, but I have still managed to read some brilliant books. Here are my five recommended reads from 2014.

1.       Who Framed Klaris Cliff? By Nikki Sheehan.
Gripping thriller about imaginary friends and shady government conspiracies. Has an ending that made me go ‘oooooh’ and I’m not someone who goes ‘ooooooh’ willy nilly.

2.       Pants are Everything by Mark Lowery.
Hilarious sequel to the equally brilliant Socks are not Enough. It follows the misfortunes of Michael Swarbrick and his crazy family, including his proud nudist Mum.

3.       Wonder by RJ Palacio.
If you haven’t read Wonder already, get on it. It is amazing. It is about a ten year old boy born with facial deformities and his efforts to fit in at school. There must have been some dust in the room when I was reading it though, because there was definitely something in my eye.

4.       Butter by Erin Lange.
One of the best books about bullying I have ever read. It is at times hard to read because of the viciousness of the bullies, but it is well worth sticking with to the end.

5.       In Bloom by Matthew Crow.
In Bloom is the story of two teenage cancer patients who meet and fall in love. Sound familiar? Well forget comparisons to the Fault in Our Stars, because this book stands out on its own. Stirring, heartbreaking and at times, laugh-out-loud hilarious, when I was reading it I was both awestruck and riddled with jealousy over the fact that I will never write anything this good. Well, except maybe that haunted settee story.

Stick one of those on your Christmas list – I promise you won’t regret it. Now, all there is left for me to do is to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. To get you in that festive mood, I’m going to leave you with my all time favourite Christmas song.


Sunday, 13 July 2014

Patron of Reading

Hello blog people!
Sorry I haven’t updated in a while – I’ve had deadlines and talks and the small matter of a Panini World Cup sticker album feud with my so-called best friend, Fat Barry.

Anyway, now I’ve got five minutes, I’m going to blog about something super important: reading.

No, not Reading, reading.

Reading is magic. It is the best thing you can do with your brain. It sparks your imagination and has the power to change your life.

When I was a kid, my favourite book was Matilda by Roald Dahl. It is about a gifted young girl born into a horrible family. Eventually, she realises she has the power of telekinesis – she can move things with her mind. I loved it. Immediately after reading, I ran outside and tried to see if I had the power, too. As soon as Jackson Thorax from the estate up the road went past me doing a wheelie and didn’t fall off, I knew I didn’t. But you see, that is the power of reading.

It is for this reason that I was dead chuffed to have been asked by Gosford Hill School near Oxford to be their Patron of Reading. My brief is to help encourage the pupils there to read more and try my best to promote it as the fun, magical activity we all know it is.

Luckily, the school is already doing an amazing job – the Learning Centre is fantastic and crammed with every book you could ever possibly want.

Except this one.

On the 25th June, I visited Gosford Hill and spoke to a group of Year Nine pupils.

You might say they look bored, but I'm going with 'entranced.'

I spoke a little bit about how I became an author and about stories in general. We even came up with our own story outline and had a bit of a joke competition.

This was the winning entry. Unbelievable.

Also, Mrs Hedges, the Learning Centre Manager put out free books that the students could take home and keep. BOOKS! FOR FREE! NOWT! I restrained myself and didn’t nick any, you’ll be pleased to hear, but it was difficult.

I also signed a few copies of my own book, but to be honest, I’d have signed other books if they’d have wanted. I’ve been told I forge a good Anthony Horowitz.

I’m looking forward to promoting reading more at Gosford Hill and I’ll be following this post up with a list of my top summer reads.

This is not one of them.

If anyone from Gosford Hill is reading this, I’d be interested to know what your recommended reads are. You can get in touch in the comments here, at my Facebook page, or at my website

Patron of Reading
Gosford Hill School

Thursday, 12 June 2014


Hello football fans!

Can you believe it has been four years since the last World Cup? I can, because they're always every four years. What a stupid thing to say.

Anyway, as I am a top-notch football pundit, I have delivered my verdict on Roy Hodgkinson's 23 man squad. WARNING: Contains in-depth analysis - like a cross between Alan Hansen and Data from off of Star Trek.

1. Joe Hart
Joe Hart is the latest in a proud sporting dynasty, following in the footsteps of Bret, Owen and Jim "the Anvil" Neid. He has featured recently in advertisements for a well-known shampoo. His team mates mock him for this but are secretly envious of his shine and bounce.

2. Glen Johnson
Glen Johnson is England's right-back. This is very similar to what I put at the end of my letters to Barry Chuckle. Thus far, he never has.

3. Leighton Baines
Left-back. Also, a town near Milton Keynes.

4. Steven Gerrard
Has the smallest forehead of any England captain since Freddie "Tiny Brow" Basset in 1925.

5. Gary Cahill
Replacement for famous philanderer, John Terry.

6. Phil Jagielka
I saw him in a pub once. I kept shouting, 'I GOT THE MOVES LIKE JAGIELKA' at him. We both had a few good laughs about it, then he pummelled me until I haemorrhaged.

7. Jack Wilshere
People who criticise Wilshere for his poor fitness record should remember that considering his legs are made from newspaper and straw, he is actually doing OK.

8. Frank Lampard
The reason Lank Frampard points at the sky after he scores is because he wants to appease the rain gods.

9. Daniel Sturridge
His surname was invented for poets who had nothing to rhyme 'courage' with.

10. Wayne Rooney
FOOTBALL FACT: I have scored the same amount of World Cup goals as Wayne Rooney.

11. Danny Welbeck
Visually reminiscent of 7-Up mascot, Fido Dido.

12. Chris Smalling
Smalling was personally selected by former Man Utd boss, Sir Alex Ferguson to be a defender at Old Trafford. This hasn't quite panned out, but he has since flourished in the HR department.

13. Ben Foster
The best player. Us Bens have to stick together.

14. Jordan Henderson
Has a name like the hardest kid on the estate.

15. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Has a name like the wimpiest kid on the estate.

16. Phil Jones
Have you seen the face on him? He looks like a constipated farmhand.

17. James Milner
Winner of 'Thickest Neck Award' at the last World Cup.

18. Rickie Lambert
Back in Sid Owen's Eastenders heyday, life was tough for this Liverpudlian striker.

19. Raheem Sterling
They all go on about how quick he is but whenever I bang on his front door, he takes ages to answer. Most of the time, he doesn't even bother.

20. Adam Lallana
The fact that fans don't chant his name to the tune of 'La Bamba' is everything that is wrong with this world.

21. Ross Barkley
Apparently, he was late for the team coach. I wouldn't have had that if I was Roy Hodgkinson. I'd have left him to make his own way and chucked his case into a puddle.

22. Fraser Forster
Fraser Forster found fifty five fingered ferrets farting furiously in his Ford Focus.

23. Luke Shaw
(1st draft of a new chant I'm working on.)

Monday, 19 May 2014



Hello everybody. Sorry I haven't blogged for a while. It's not easy to fit it in when you're trying to respond to so many final demand letters messages from adoring fans.

Anyway, as a special treat, I am publishing an extract from a story I'm writing. I am not  in violation of any kind of contractual arrangement because I can't imagine anyone in their right mind wanting to publish this. It is the stupidest thing I have ever written. Which is probably why I'm enjoying it so much. It's working title is 'El Presidente.'

Freddie sat at the dinner table with his parents and Tadge. They were having chippy tea. Normally, Freddie would be delighted by this, but this time, he hadn’t even touched his jumbo saveloy.
‘Freddie,’ said Mum through a mouthful of doner meat. ‘I wish you wouldn’t keep secrets from us.’
‘What are you talking about?’ said Freddie as casually as he could, fully aware that she could have been talking about one of about three hundred things.
She swallowed and pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of her pocket. Straight away, Freddie knew what it was.
‘Ohhhhhh,’ he dropped his head into his hands.
‘What’s the matter with you? This is something to be proud of!’ she said.
‘What you talking about?’ said Dad, mopping up curry sauce with a slice of bread and butter.
‘How did you find that, anyway?’ said Freddie. ‘I hid it under my bed! What were you doing looking under my bed?’
‘For what?’ said Dad. ‘What is it?’
 ‘Well, I saw a thing on the telly about these new drugs kids are taking and I wanted to make sure you weren’t stashing any,’ she said.
‘Drugs? What drugs?’
‘Nothing wrong with drugs,’ said Tadge. ‘I did a bit of the herb when I was your age and it didn’t do me any harm.’
Everyone turned and looked at him. He had mushy peas in his beard and his t-shirt said ‘I Shot Mr Burns.’
‘I haven’t got any drugs!’ I said. ‘You wouldn’t even let me have a Vicks inhaler when I had a cold!’
‘Will someone tell me what’s going on?’ said Dad.
‘I am so proud of you, my boy,’ said Mum. ‘Shortlisted to paint a picture of the Prime Minister!’
Tadge threw his scallop down in disgust. ‘No way, my man. Don’t do it. Don’t shill for the Illuminati.’
‘Nonsense,’ said Dad. ‘You’re proud to be British, and you should be proud to paint our nation’s leader.’
‘Yeah, you should paint him,’ said Tadge. ‘With red paint . . . like the . . . blood on his, you know, hands.’
‘Go to your room, Tadge,’ said Mum.
Tadge stomped off upstairs and slammed his bedroom door. He was forty-two.
‘He just needs a moment to calm down,’ said Mum. ‘And when he does, you should talk to him. Tadge is a very talented artist.’
‘I don’t know about that,’ said Dad. ‘It’s that modern art rubbish. I’m not into it. Remember when we visited that snooty place and they kicked me out just for speaking the truth? I said ‘that’s not art, it’s a bed. That’s not art, it’s a wardrobe.’
‘We were in Ikea,’ said Freddie. ‘You were making a scene.’
‘Aaaaah,’ Dad waved him off. ‘I know good art when I see it, and what Tadge does ain’t good art.’
‘Well, what is good art, dear?’ said Mum.
‘You know . . .’ he reached across and speared Freddie’s saveloy with his fork. ‘That painting of the dogs playing cards, the little boy having a wee, Blackpool tower, that kind of thing.’
Freddie wondered how the hell he could have been named as one of the top Art students in his year with the genes he inherited. Trouble was, now his parents knew, there was no escaping it.

He had to think of something.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The Private Blog of Joe Cowley Book Launch

Last night was the launch for my first book, the Private Blog of Joe Cowley. I'm not very good at parties. This once I organised a Jubilee street party in Venice. Everybody drowned.

I knew I couldn't let that happen again, so I was extra careful when picking a venue for the launch. Originally, I had intended to try and hold it in a book shop, but then I realised that the only book shop in town is the one in the church, and I don't think they'd really go for it.

I said PISS BALLOONS, Reverend. Come on, lighten up.

So in the end, I decided to have the launch party in my old school. After all, it did partially inspire the book. The only snag with that was, my old school was completely demolished three years ago. Luckily, they'd built a snazzy new one in its place, complete with function rooms and a bar, so we had it there. I'm pretty sure the bar is closed during school hours.

Aaaanyway, much to my surprise, the launch went very well, thanks in no small part to my wife Hester organising the entire thing. If it was left to me, it would have been in a shed with a handful of party poppers. As it was, we had:






And most importantly . . .

Big thanks to everyone who came along. Hugs and kisses. x

With thanks to Julie Ellison for the cakes and Becky Clempson, Melanie Storer and Claire Jackson for the photos.

Friday, 11 April 2014

An Interview with Joe Cowley

Sophocles, Kant, Schopenhauer, that old bloke off Gogglebox. These are the great thinkers of human history. Joe Cowley is not in their league, regardless of what he might tell you. 

To celebrate the publication of the first volume of his secret online missives, I sat down with Joe for an exclusive interview. I wanted to find out more about the boy behind the blog.

I wish I hadn't bothered.

Hello Joe. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview.
Yeah. OK. Cheers.
Sorry, what’s this about again?

Nothing much. I just wanted to talk to you about your blog.
My blog? I haven’t got a blog. You must be thinking of some other person. Some blogger with the same name as me.
I mean, what is a blog anyway? My mate Ad thinks its what happens when you eat loads of blue smarties and then go for a dump.
So, as I was saying, I haven’t got a blog.

Who told you about my blog?

That’s not important.
Yes it cocking well is. It’s supposed to be private. I bet it was Gav. Sweet Jesus, that moron is determined to RUIN MY LIFE.

Calm down, Joe.
That’s it. I’m just going to have to leave the country. I hear nice things about Estonia.

It’s OK, you don’t have to leave the country. Tell me, why did you start your blog?
I suppose I did it to try and sort my life out. I mean, I just had so many bad things happen to me that I thought writing them down would help me make sense of them. And now it seems I have one more to add to the list.

So you had a lot of problems?
Did I have a lot of problems? That’s like asking Counsellor Troi if she has a lot of emphatic powers.

Um . . . does that mean yes?
You bet your stinking bum it does. I had so many problems, it would have made Jay Z cack himself.

Can you be more specific?
About Jay Z cacking himself?

No (takes a moment of compose myself) I meant about the problems that led you to start your blog.
All right. Try this on for size:
  • ·       My so-called best mates were trying to get me killed in a bid to win £250 from You’ve Been Framed.
  • ·         My arch-enemy Gav James’ campaign of terror against me showed no signs of letting up.
  • ·         My parents got divorced.
  • ·         I threw up over Louise Bentley at the fair after the waltzers made me nauseous.
  • ·         I gained the nickname ‘Puke Skywalker’ at school for the above reason.
  • ·         The love of my life, Lisa Hall didn’t even know I existed.
  • ·         Even if she did, I couldn’t talk to her without going all weird. This once, she asked me the time, and I replied ‘September.’
  • ·         IT WAS APRIL!

 That does sound like an awful lot to deal with. So, did keeping the blog help you sort your life out at all?
Did it hell. If anything, things got even more complicated.

So why did you keep it up?
I don't know, really. I suppose I like to think that thousands of years from now, when humanity is extinct and aliens come and look over the wreckage of our once-great civilisation, they will find my blog and figure out why we were doomed as a species.

You sound like a very gloomy person, Joe.
Wouldn’t you be, if you had my life?

Well, probably.
Anyway, enough about me. Who are you? Why are you asking me all these questions? Oh my God, are you an alien?

*Facepalms* Yes, Joe. I’m an alien.
Ah, brilliant. Can you take me back to your planet with you?

No. No I can’t.
[Sighs] Rejected again.

The Private Blog of Joe Cowley is available to buy from the following retailers:

Just don't tell Joe.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Private Blog of Joe Cowley - Book trailer

In my day, there were only three things that had trailers - films, film stars and my uncle Cyril who used one to tow around his JESUS IS COMING advertising pyramid.

Thing is, these days they're doing them for books, too, and my book is no exception. Now, in this trailer, I play three of the characters from the book. To begin with, I thought it was all a bit unseemly - a grown man pretending to be school kids, but then I watched the film Grease, and realised they're all about forty-five, so I'm probably OK.

If I ever saw this man in a school, I would inform the police.

Anyway, I'll stop flapping my gums and show you the video. Hopefully, it will persuade you to buy the book. Or pay for me to have elocution lessons, either is good.

This trailer was produced by the marvellous MB Films. (http://www.mbfilms.co.uk)