Making my peace with an old enemy

I went to see a film called Blinded By the Light on its opening night on Friday. I was keen to see it, as I like director Gurinder Chadha’s work, and really enjoyed the trailer (below).

It’s the story, set in 1987 in Luton, of a British Asian boy who grows up in conflict with his father. He wants to be a writer and finds solace in the music of Bruce Springsteen. If you’ve read my Duran Duran story, you’ll know that there are more than a few parallels between our lives.

It’s based on a true story: that of Sarfraz Manzoor. Who, you might ask, is Sarfraz Manzoor? Well, funnily enough, he’s a journalist who used to moan about me in his Guardian columns!

In 2009, Sarfraz blamed the Atheist Bus Campaign for making him feel sad about death:

Screenshot 2019-08-10 at 11.37.55.png

That same February, I wrote a very lighthearted column about Valentine’s Day for the Graun, suggesting that it wasn’t all bad being single. Sarfraz was not happy, and called me out by name.

Screenshot 2019-08-10 at 11.37.07.png

I didn’t really mind, though twice in two weeks was a bit much! But writers need stuff to write about, and I’m glad I was consistently giving him material.

Anyhow, I really enjoyed Blinded By the Light – it was very warmhearted and funny as well as poignant. And it’s weird thinking that this guy I’d pissed off with my columns and atheism had so much in common with me, and I never knew. We could have been friends, bonding over the way music can affect everything in your life and change it for the better, if you let it.

Do go and see the film if you can – it’s brilliant. But don’t just take my word for it – it has a score of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Here’s Sarfraz with The Boss:

sarfraz

THE GREAT WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE!

Day 34

Me: 12st 4.2lbs (total loss in 34 days: 10lbs)

I’m really proud of myself today as I talked myself out of bingeing last night!

John: 14st 3.5lbs (total loss in 34 days: 4lbs)

The iPhone filter ‘Silvertone’ is making these photos look all romantic!

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Marc Alexander, Chris Birkett, John Fleming, Mary Clarke, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, Musical Comedy Guide, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Graham Nunn, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

They receive a whole host of exciting rewards in addition to this credit, including my secret never-published fiction and top secret photos! If you enjoyed this post, please support me on Patreon. 

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5 thoughts on “Making my peace with an old enemy”

  1. I rarely if ever make peace with old enemies. Exes yes, sometimes. I haven’t read his two columns, but his attack against the Atheist Bus campaign was kinda cheap and non sequitur. As for Valentine’s Day, I always thought it kind of sucks: if you are single it’s depressing, if you are in a relationship it’s stressful. I’ve been kind of pondering about writing a short story about Valentine’s Day, as seen through the eyes of the lover of a married woman.

    Okay now I’m rambling. I find it admirable that you make peace with your old enemy. I’m sure his movie is very good and I might see it. But I think he dropped the ball on these two articles.

    1. He’s just replied on Twitter to say he was never pissed off with me – more like looking for something to write about! – so I understand. Turning out subject matter for endless articles is tough. (A bit like this blog!) Totally agree on your views on Valentine’s Day – that was what my column was about. It originally had a line in saying ‘The only person who’s happy on Valentine’s Day is the chief executive of Hallmark – and even he gets it in the neck from his wife, as she suspects he didn’t pay for her card.’

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