Roy's Autobiography, "Life's a Gamble" OUT NOW!
Roy's Autobiography, "Life's a Gamble" OUT NOW!
In early 1975 an unknown Sylvester Stalone witnessed the Muhammad Ali/Chuck Wepner fight in which the unknown and severely outclassed Wepner managed to survive to the conclusion of the 15th and final round.
Inspired by what he had seen, Stalone went home and immediately started writing his script for Rocky. Going without sleep and surviving only on caffeine, he completed the draft in just three-and-a-half days.
The studios loved his screenplay and offered Stalone a hefty sum for it. However, the anonymous unknown budding actor refused to sell unless he had the staring roll in the film.
One year later Rocky, featuring many of Stalone’s family members in minor acting rolls and even his dog, made its celebrated screen debut and earned itself nine Oscar nominations in the process.
For his part Stalone became only the third person in movie history (behind Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles) to receive an Oscar nomination for both screenwriting and acting in a single film – impressive for an unknown?
Rocky II was also directed by Stalone and Rocky III was purely a landmark in cinematography history. Let’s stop there!
Bob Ballard, the man responsible for finding the wreck of the Titanic (amongst a host of other great ships including the Bismark), also rates highly on my list.
Ballard refused to remove any artefacts from the Titanic, leaving the site as a sea grave but those that followed both commercialise and cannibalised her like a chicken carcass.
Ballard actually rues to this day that he did not claim the wreck under maritime law in order to prevent the ensuing scavengers, namely car dealer George Tulloch.
The liner’s artefacts now do the rounds in a travelling museum. But, being less than a hundred years old, only the Americans who rate 1950’s Coke-a-Cola bottles as antiques, fail to realise that broken toilet pans and rusted cutlery not deserving of public display.
Such items, albeit not stolen from a grave, are commonplace in a plethora of brick-a-brack stalls and auction rooms across the UK and throughout Continental Europe.
Gene Rodenberry, creator of Star Trek, possessed both an amazing imagination and foresight. The man did not simply knock out a sci-fi series with mindless war and disputes for story lines – like the preceding Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers – his titles were educational offering a fascinating look at what could be.
Let’s not forget, at the time [early 1960’s], nothing like this series had ever been conceived.
Of the original series 79 episodes were filmed in less than three years with none wavering in quality. A personal favourite is “A Piece of the Action,” an episode where the Enterprise visits a planet whose culture is dictated by the writings in a single book.
In this case the book is about the Chicago Mobs of the 1920’s so, suffice to say, the instalment featured machine guns, corruption and killing prominently. Therein lies the brilliance of the man, as his insinuation was that we could well be interpreting the Bible (our book) incorrectly.
At the time, no doubt, highlighting what could be if the translation of the original Holy Scripts were marginally different, there would have been moral outrage. But for me, the message, as in so many original Star Trek’s, came across well enough.
Terry Ramsden was a flamboyant stock-market trader who entered the City at the age of 17 licking stamps and ended up owning a string of Racehorses, Businesses, Property, Walsall Football Club, 30% of Chelsea FC, a lear-jets, two helicopters, the lot!
They said we would never see his like again but despite being down-and-out, shamed, imprisoned and barred from all horse tracks during the 90’s, the man is back and at the top of his game once again. What’s more we been exchanging e-mails just recently.
Poker Players! 95% of them are unsuccessful egotistical maniacs that have been put through a blender of bitter jealousy and twisted resentment, with no pinch of salt or spoonful of homey added. Of those that have been lucky enough to have tasted success only a few have not let it go to their head and turned prima donna. It’s a very sad state of affairs.
The Thing: Considering it was filmed in 1981, the special effects in this thriller-come-horror are amazing. They surpass anything before or since.
It’s pure coincidence that The Thing was filmed in part on location in British Colombia, which is one of my favourite places in the world.
Brilliant effects apart, my favourite scene comes when actor Donald Moffat, who played the character Garry, declares: “I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I’d rather not spend the rest of the winter, tied to this fucking couch!”
Rogue Trader: Nick Leeson, responsible for bringing down Bearings Bank and the person that this film focuses on, has become a keen poker player and friend.
So this flick has an added dimension for me. A true tale with which many of us [gamblers] could and should sympathise, it’s backed by some fantastic music.
Mona Lisa: A Neil Jordan classic funded by George Harrison’s Handmade Films.
A frighteningly realistic explanation of how a naive and innocent man can find his way into the world of porn, prostitution and drugs induced by an emotional crisis. Did Michael Cane deserve an Oscar for appearance here – many other films but not this one. Hoskins did though.
Rain Man: Tom Cruises greatest film role by a country mile. Uncanny tale of autism and apathy that makes you look at your own attitudes towards life. I cannot believe a sequel was never made.
Casino: Sharon Stone’s antics when throwing a fit on the front lawn of her house was simply superb. You try acting in such a neurotic way in front of a camera crew.
Essentially the film gets nowhere quickly and is riddled with continuity errors – check out the money that moves around the table in the café or cigarette packet appears and disappears on the back seat of Remo’s limo during a meeting with Ace.
But it’s kinda addictive with Joe Peshi’s never going to find a better part and it is based on a true story, which always adds something.
That’ll Be The Day: David Essex and Ringo Starr front this long-forgotten gem which I can very much relate to through character Jim McLain’s first sexual experiences – and beyond. Stardust, was the watchable follow-up which was very reflective of the period in which it was made.
The Dead Zone: A Steven King adaptation, for some reason rarely gets a showing on the box. One of those you will watch and then think about for hours and days afterwards.
Bicentenial Man: Sadly too complex for the viewing public at large but this is Robin Williams at his very best. Simply magnificent story superbly delivered that lets you take a look at the human gene pool, our own relatives and human nature.
The Business: More cocaine than Casino, more guns than Goodfellas, more swearing than Scarface. What’s more, it’s not an American film.
Pharlap: The best and most touching tale of a racehorse ever put on film – it leaves Seabiscuit a furlong behind!. I researched this story through and through and the screenplay is factually correct to the hair on the jockey’s head. There are two versions of the film, one for Australian viewers and one for the rest of the world which I think is better.
Rounders: Excellent suspense, unbelievably realistic – all the card rooms in New York seem to be in a basement for example. The one film that will start you playing poker. Shame it never found a mainstream audience despite a good cast.
Forest Gump: I like the way this film has been made with the story catching-up on itself at the midway point and plan to use the same style for my screenplay – if it is ever finished. A little too Americanised maybe but still very well pieced together.
Jerry Maguire: I know what it’s like to build an emotional tie with a young child whilst being immersed in your own troubles. The gut wrenching innocence of youth can really send you gag ga.
To attain a life-changing result in a poker tournament within the next few years. ‘Life-changing’ means approaching seven figures.
To see the speed trap/scoreboard on the Naas Road on the outskirts of Dublin make it into three digits!
"Living is easy when life is a game!"
Porsche 944 Turbo S. She may be fifteen years old but the old bus remains the fastest 4-cylinder car in the world. Thankfully she also fits into ‘classic car’ status meaning the insurance – never going to be cheap considering my track record – still costs less than a week in Bellagio’s penthouse suite!
Ferrari 456. I like looking at life through the rear-view mirror, watching it trying to catch up as opposed through the windscreen seeing what’s coming. That’s best done at speed!
Michael Palin. Not for his involvement with the Monty Python films but his participation in the three wonderful documentary programmes made for the BBC – Around the World in 80 Days, Full Circle and Pole-To-Pole. The series allowed him to visit parts of the world most of us can only dream about and I’d love to follow in his footsteps.
Not discovering poker 20 years ago and being a degenerate gambler for most of those 20 years.
On being asked by Michael Parkinson what he has done with all the money he has earned down the years George Best replied: “I’ve drunk, gambled and womanised – the rest of it has been wasted!”
Las Vegas is like Blackpool in the Desert, possibly even tackier, with insincerity dripping off everyone. Still, I have to spend a fair amount of time there like it or not.
On the subject of America… During the last 60 years what do the following 21 countries have in common? China, Korea, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, Peru, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Bosnia, Sudan, Former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, they have all been bombed by the US.
Added to the paranoia of four decades of communist fear, is it not disconcerting that the Stars and Stripes flag appears across the nation in greater numbers and with greater fanaticism than that of the Nazi’s swastikas?
Domestically, there are also a few hacks from my former world of greyhound racing journalism that deserve a mention. Driven by greed and as territorial as a German around a swimming pool on the Costa Brava, they are unfortunately becoming more and more popular. Just last week I heard someone actually touched one of them – with a 10ft bargepole!
A documentary filmmaker, a scriptwriter, which is something which I have done a little of in the past, an actor or some marketing involvement with Formula 1. However, the latter appears to be a cartel where laymen are simply not involved in any capacity.
I have strong feelings on this subject as the music industry is clearly corrupt and, like fashion, driven by money and ruthless greed. As a result, I have huge diversities in my taste and refuse to be influenced by radio and television anyways…
Motley Crue’s ‘Shout At the Devil’ is simply timeless and the finest rock album ever composed. It may be over 21 years old but I still regularly listen to it and in never fails to excite. I could suppose you say it has come of age and then some… Sadly they [Motley Crue] allowed themselves to be compromised by record labels and producers, going commercial thereafter.
If someone told me I was, one day, going to buy a rap-record I would have demanded to be shot. However, I confess, M & M’s adaptation/sample of he Aerosmith Classic Dream On (re-named “Sing for the Moment”) is brilliantly done!
My CD collection ranges from John Denver to LA Guns, Simon & Garfunkel to Skid Row, Vangelis to Mike Oldfield and beyond. However, Hans Zimmer, a modern day Mozart, is my guru.
Just how this genius matches the mood of a film with music is remarkable. The themes to Rain Man, which first brought him to the public’s attention, along with Gladiator and Thelma and Louise particularly stand out.
I have a brilliant live recording from Zimmers’ appearance at the Flanders International Film Festival in Ghent, Belgium where, quite remarkably, the music is better than on the studio recording (which is already excellent). This is a concert I would have dearly loved to have attended.
As for a true front-man, Sebastian Bach of Skid Row matched the showmanship of Jagger, Roth, Page, Hendrix, Cobain and whoever you care to mention. A fantastic performer who my son is named after.
For the locations, Derby Lane dog track in St Petersburg, Florida and Vancouver’s Space Needle. For an experience, Waterside Inn Bray near Windsor but for the best dish in the world… try the Five Spice Chicken at Mao’s just off Grafton Street in Dublin’s City Centre.
I think I have read a grand total of three books in my lifetime, all of which were biographies and Mick Fleetwood’s was by far the best.
Have not really got time for one although have done some single-seater car racing recently.
Simply love gambling on horseracing but it is such an expensive hobby!
Flying into Vegas once our plane was struck by lightening but that was like a pleasant dream compared to a light aircraft (float plane) journey from Vancouver to Victoria on Vancouver Island during a storm, which cancelled every ferry, downed trees and overturned lorries along the entire coast of British Colombia.
I will never fly in, or stand within 200 feet of, another light aircraft again but, ironically, my favourite TV shows include ‘Black Box’ and ‘Air Crash Investigation!’
Driving flat out on the A55 (obviously not in top-gear) – otherwise known as the Welsh Autobahn!
Working with Jessie ‘the voice of poker’ May on any project.
Having 14 outs against Dave Ulliot in the 2004 Poker Million and missing. Commentator Jessie May kindly pointed out afterwards that the pot was worth at least $100,000 to me!
Also losing a €27,000 pot in a cash game in Paris. With one card to come my opponent could only win with an Ace and there was only one of them left in the deck. His 37/1 shot came off! I’ve just remembered why I rarely play ‘live’ cash games anymore.
Former F1 driver Eddie Irvine looks like he knows how to have a good time. I used to live nearby his home in Dalkey (Ireland) and I’ve seen his red Ferrari scream by on more than one occasion.
Hotel maids that do not understand the words ‘Do Not Disturb!’ After playing poker until 6am, and probably having had a big slice of sickening bad luck, you really don’t want anyone walking into your room at 10am.
Invariably you nod back off only for the phone to ring shortly afterwards with the receptionist proclaiming: “We noticed you had the Do Not Disturb sign on your door, so I am phoning to ask if you would like your room servicing today.”
Nearly fifty years ago Granada Television began a programme following the life of a group of seven-year-old children from a wide spectrum of British social society.
The initial show was called Seven-Up and filmmakers visited the children when aged 14 and at seven-year intervals up until the age of 49. It has provided a fascinating insight to the consequences of people’s background and upbringing.
There is also a show regularly repeated on the Reality Channel called Cheaters. Those episodes of the show, which sees a detectives and a television crew catch cheating spouses and partners of either gender and sexual preference and then confronts them, hosted by a character called Tommy Grand are just priceless.
The guy is brilliant with a talent for winding people up. He really could create mayhem in a yoga class, or make you want to commit a violent crime after a screening of Bambi.
Why go back to a place twice when there is so much of the world to see?
I once did a commentary for a greyhound race in Coronation Street. More people heard that than listened to that year’s Grand National and Derby combined.
Training three winners at Portsmouth dog track in 1992. With claims of a spectacular gamble, it was front page headlines in the Racing Post for a week.
Maximum respect to the ‘Hole-in-One Gang’ who successfully backed hole-in-ones at major golf tournaments at 100/1 when the true odds were nearer even-money.