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Ar' Back Yard - Back There and Then... - Articles Surfing
Back there and then*
It's weird you know! But everything is so close to the release of Ar* Back Yard (for those of you not familiar to the book soon to be released click on hhtp://www.arbackyard.com/ for more information) that it's kind of scary * yet very fuckin* exciting to say the least.
The copies of the first print will arrive any day now. And those copies are going to be sent straight out to my publicity team. Since I found out about Ar* Back Yard being published, it's pretty safe to say that I have become kind of obsessed with it.
And why not eh? Why shouldn't I have been?
I began working with Sandy Diaz from TCI-Smith * well not so much working * but she*d been an immense help since last year. The reason I am mentioning Sandy here is that she sent me an author's questionnaire that I had to complete. Now when I received it I opened it on my phone and thought * okay that's pretty straight forward.
Fact of the matter was I only opened the front page that was the real basics * name, address * and so fourth. This thing was 11 pages long and covered everything.
But I have to say that the great thing about it was that for so long now I have just thought about the book and that's it. But these were questions about me and the back story behind Ar* Back Yard.
And even though I knew the back story * it has been the first time that I have had to document it. You see by telling the back story * I am in hindsight also telling my own story.
So to start remembering all those things and to start realising just how tied up and deeply involved I was in that world * became a real blast from the past I can tell you.
You see I had to be really honest with all of it * and at times I just kept thinking * fuck * I really was a horrible little cunt back then.
But you see this is what happened and how things were for me back in the day * this was the truth and this is what formed the basis of Ar* Back Yard so there was no reason to bullshit. There was no reason to leave any rocks unturned and the more truth I told without any crap sprinkled along the way the better I supposed it would be.
The only thing I'll ask you all to remember, is that all of this I*m telling you is and has been for many years now in the past. I have not been part of that world for a very long time now and even though I don't really have regrets * I do not condone all of what took place.
I only acknowledge that the authenticity of what I wrote was written from the heart and with the knowledge that I was involved within that world at the time.
It would be easy for me to paint a bad picture and say that I came from a poor family and had a bad up bringing that led me down the path I followed. But to be honest that would be complete and utter nonsense.
I was from a good family. By no means, the type of family that gave you anything had you wanted. In fact that was far from the case no matter what certain family members like to believe and it was also probably one of the factors that led me to the criminal underworld that became my family.
Possibly a piss poor excuse I know, but it's not really the point I*m trying to make. It's that I always financed myself and anything I wanted to do * usually by any means necessary that I could take full advantage of and make some cash.
I think that I once had a dream of becoming this great artist * well more of a graphic designer to be honest. But that never really panned out and along the way, throughout being heavily into the rise of Hip Hop and the entire culture that surrounded it throughout the early to mid eighties. This was before the whole Madchester scene took off and the clubbing scene arrived in the late eighties. And when this happened everything really kicked off in Manchester.
And from the first moment I experienced the ride (obviously including taking the drug Ecstasy) I was hooked. Not only was I captivated, I was infatuated with it becoming my life * and that it is exactly what it became. Through this period, these days were in my mind some of the greatest and also some of the worst times the city of Manchester ever experienced.
I had cleverly and very quickly started to make moves within the drug industry. It was almost by chance though if I*m truthful about it. I bumped into an old boss of mine who was at the time running a successful club in Warrington. He couldn't work out why it was that nobody was buying his booze yet appeared to be having such a good time all night.
When I explained it him that the drug they were taking was Ecstasy * well he blatantly asked me if he gave me a thousand pounds what I would give him in return. I took the thousand and gave him his return * and quite simply that's how it all began.
>From there I started to make a name for myself * and even to this day I wasn't quite sure how * but each week everything grew bigger and greater. And before I knew it I had my own business. Albeit, an illegal one at that.
For Christ sake I had the boss of the club in my pocket. He then went on to hand over both the club* and effectively me also*. to the head of security at the time. I even designed the bloody membership cards and all the artwork that they used for events.
I was membership number, VIP001 and thought I was untouchable. But I was simply young, dumb and way ahead of where should have been at that stage in the game.
And let me tell you something* being at that stage in the game at the young age that I was pissed off more than a few people to say the least. Things were becoming very heated around me with both the characters that I was pissing off and also with the law who were becoming aroused with current activities that were escalating on a week to week basis.
I was running round town selling all different classes of Drugs * from Weed to Ecstasy * to Coke * and from Coke to my personal worst fucking nightmare * Crack.
I was never really a violent person * but all of a sudden I found myself committing horrific violent acts as they became a necessity. And I although it was never something I got off on. It was always an issue within my world. I just kind of became used to having to do those things as terrible as they were.
I was selling everything at both wholesale and retail and I was making so much cash I figured that nothing else mattered. I was gaining a reputation and with a name like Anwar (there was no other Anwar around at the time) I was being remembered by all of those around me.
It was also around this time that my drug intake increased more and more and I never realised how much they were taking control of not only my body, but also my mind. I think since the early days of sniffing glue as a teenager I always loved that intoxication of all substances a little too much.
Fact of the matter was, as I*ve said, I loved drugs. I mean, I loved taking all drugs as long they didn't involve sticking needles in my arm. I mean I loved clubbing and I loved popping Ecstasy. But Coke and Crack-Cocaine became my real downfalls * but we'll get to that later.
For as much as I and just about every other fucker at the time loved these so called harmless little pills that were becoming known as the ultimate love drugs * I was involved in the business side as well. And at the end of the day business is business. It was always about making money and nothing else. But the money * the cold hard unaccounted cash also meant more drugs were available whenever I wanted them.
So unlike most people for whom it was merely a recreational hobby for weekends * for the likes of me it was a seven day operation I lived and breathed. I became so caught up in the world and all of violence that was associated with it that it kind of got to a stage where I just thought that that was the normal world people lived in.
But as the years past along with all the battles and fall outs, the decline of what I was involved in began to engulf me. At one stage I had arrest warrants out for me in Manchester, Wilmslow, Macclesfield, Congleton and Warrington. All it would have taken for me to be banged up would have been to be pulled over in a routine check that was the normal thing to happen back then. I*d have been arrested on a number of allegations and conspiracy theories (most true by the way) that they wanted to question me about.
So I fell off the radar again (kind of) and even though I know I was wanted there * I moved back to Macclesfield where I had family and even though I knew I was under investigation I figured it was a few years ago, so figured what the hell eh!
And then that's when I decided I was going to do something really stupid * not that I thought so at the time.
I moved into town and took over a large percentage of the town's drug business stepping over everybody's toes along the way, and very much to everybody's dismay.
You see I*d lived a different life up until then for a number of years now. And the people in that town knew this and weren't entirely sure what to make of me. They thought I was now some crazy Mancunian Gangster * and I suppose at least in their minds I was anyway.
I ended up playing on this no end and led them all to believe I was bigger than I was. And you know what? It worked.
But this also proved to be one of my downfalls, and eventually I was arrested on a number of charges from Possession with Intent to Supply all they way through to numerous Firearms charges. All of which after well over a year of finally getting to Crown Court were pretty much thrown out on the basis of * bizarrely * the judge figuring because of my skin colour (I*m not even that dark by the way* but do have both an ethnic background) that I was the victim here and that, I had been in some way targeted by the police because of that.
I mean, who the hell was I to argue with that? I swear to god the judge had a better blag up his sleeve than even I had * and mine was pretty good to say the least.
One thing I forgot to mention here though * and by no means least * is that through this period I also had a daughter named Hannah who would become my only true meaning in life and main ambition to succeed. I got almost out of the business and even got a job in a studio doing design work in textiles. All I wanted was for my daughter to be happy and did everything that was physically and financially possibly to achieve those goals.
Which was achieved for a two year period with me about 50 percent in and out of the game at the same time (you can never really get away from it) and which worked immensely (kind of) until the day her mother and I split.
I am not laying blame at anybodies door here in any way whatsoever here * but this was the defining moment in my life where everything changed.
My head went west and I lost the plot. I went back to all my old ways. I hooked up with everybody from the past and I hit the crack-pipe over a four month period in a way that would have killed most people after a day's session with the kind of abuse I was self inflicting. Locking myself away with a camping stove and old empty jar of Nescafe with week long non-stop cooking and smoking sessions of the lethal drug.
I was on a mission to smoke and get my hands on as much money and as many drugs through any means possible * and then literally lose myself on a one way ticket.
And that's when the dark side engulfed my world and the death threats arrived in a very real way that brought my world crashing down violently around me. After a period of this violence I knew that I was left with only two options. The first I couldn't justify (however I knew that these guys after me had already made full justification within their own minds) or two, I had no other option but to get the hell out of dodge.
And that's exactly what I did. I moved down to London to sort not only my drug problem * but also my head out.
>From there the rest is history in the making really. I*ve worked my arse off in two industries since over the years * the first being retail which I hated (but was fucking one of the best sales guys and managers out there) * and the second which is probably one of my biggest passions in life and that is working professional kitchens as a Chef.
Throughout that period I have written the books Ar* Back Yard along with the two that will follow, After the Rain, and then, Full Intensions * along with a spin off story that is still based in Manchester, albeit some years later, called Paralysed Souls.
So I suppose when looking back, Ar* Back Yard was an idea I*d carried with me for a number of years after this period. I had lived through those times * mainly on the wrong side of law (as by now I figure you*ve worked out for yourselves) and within the confines of the criminal underworld that surrounds Manchester.
I had many good * and many bad * times whilst living there and experienced a lot of what happens in the book.
When I say that I experienced everything * I am not saying that in any way shape or form that the book is word for word gospel and that it all went down the way it does in the book. I have used an author's literary licence to* How should I put this*? Let's just say I*ve taken certain situations and then I have put them into completely different scenarios, exaggerating how it happens so that there will be no conflicts of interest.
However * You will find references throughout all three books to drug taking of a number of different class drugs and the experiences with those drugs. They are based on very personal experiences through some of my younger years were I was heavily involved with taking drugs myself as by now you all know.
I think that in all fairness I am not one character in the book. However I can relate to three of the characters in a very, very close way. I think I used these three fictional characters as a way to cover different eras and times * feelings and emotions * achievements and complete fuck ups, all at the same time without having to write each story separately for each of those different time periods.
The distribution of the drugs is real * however * never think for one second that I was ever involved at the scale in which this world is set. That is purely fictional to give the estate and characters more depth.
Certain characters like Prey who is my mentor in the book is loosely based on a guy who I thought of as my mentor for a number of years until I realised what he was doing. And as you will discover by the end of the third book, it's something I never held against him.
In fact, I now have a lot of respect for what he taught me back there and then * but was too na*ve, young, dumb and easily influenced that I was drawn into that world.
But I suppose at the time my head was so messed up that I honestly didn't know what the fuck I was doing and let's just say it took me some time to recover and get myself back into the land of the living again.
So anyway * that's the story that bounced around my head for all those years whilst I was living down in London constantly thinking about my past life. Then this one afternoon in 1998 I was reading a magazine. I*m sure it was Loaded or Front * and there was this article about some brothers from Wythenshawe in Manchester who were heavily involved in everything back in the day.
Anyway * to cut a long story short there was this blurred photo of this group of lads * all were wearing the kind of gear we wore in Manchester and they were stood there in a variety of different poses with either high or low-rises or a multi story car park behind them. I don't know why but the picture mesmerised me and brought back so many memories that in turn reminded me of the story I had in mind.
It was that exact same photo that I cut from the magazine and placed in a frame above where I wrote the story as a kind of inspiration for Ar* Back Yard I suppose.
So you can see I had the idea and the stories to do this thing * however without the time, means or facilities to carry out ever putting pen to paper I never was able to do anything about it.
Then back in the back end of 1998 I decided to move abroad and go work in Portugal. It was there I had taken a computer with me and it was also there that I suddenly found that I suddenly had the time * and the facilities to start writing the story I wanted to write.
What I*d never taken into consideration though was the fact I*d never written anything before.
So like some demented idiot I switched (I*m not kidding here by the way) the setting to Caps Lock and then started banging away at the keyboard allowing one crazy tale after another to flow. There were no chapters * there was no direction * in fact I didn't even change the bloody names * I just kept typing and typing and typing * all the while keeping myself amused and also horrified at just what it was that I remembered.
After a couple of months I did what I should have been doing all along * I printed it out. And you know what * when I read it and so did ar*kid (my sister to you guys * who basically informed me after a few chapters that *I would be arrested, sued or shot after a week of the book getting published*) * I realised two things * one, it was horrendously written grammar wise.
But two, there was actually a multitude of fantastic tales that if I started to reform those tales into some kind of readable format that was correctly put into Chapters with the story reworked as I*ve described earlier * so that there wasn't going to any conflicts of interest * then it could actually work.
So that's what took place. I did rewrite the story * and have re-done so many, many times over the years.
I think what I*ve described in the back story is going to be the key point of interest to you guys the reader. I was involved within that world for many years. I experienced so much of what took place that it will draw the reader into that world and give an insight into what happened and how it felt.
I should also point out that although the first book may appear to glorify what took place, you really need to read all three books to see that it does not paint a happy picture and shows why people shouldn't take the road that I took.
That may not appear to be the case in this book * but there are many morals to the story. Both good and bad and what lengths you are prepared to go to and just what you are willing to walk out on without a moment's hesitation.
It also touches on a lot of the shit going on in the world today. I mean it's not like the drugs or the violence have gone anywhere is it? In fact they are probably stronger today than they were back there and then. And they have definitely hit a much younger generation than they had back then.
I mean you just have to take a look at how much media coverage Gun and Knife Crime now gets * especially in places like Manchester and London. It is rifer now than it ever was before.
Smack or Heroin as it's more commonly known is described as Prey's main business in Ar* Back Yard and even though it's looked upon as one of the dirtiest businesses ever to get involved in * it is that one business that will always * and I mean always * exist no matter what the authorities do to try and stop it.
I got to certain point when my morals were pretty much thrown out of the window and I didn't give a shit. When after many years of resisting ever selling the drug * I realised that I was selling Crack anyway * and a lot of the crack addicts also wanted Smack (they threw the two drugs together on foil to make the smack run longer * although I had another reason for doing that that I'll tell you about in a moments time) therefore I figured I was selling one so I may as well sell the other.
They simply became commodities instead of Class A drugs to me. And even though I never did and never would inject anything * I smoked heroin on numerous occasions. Usually I*d whack it on the foil with some rocks and smoke it that way * which is pretty crazy seeing as one is the ultimate upper and the other the ultimate downer. And this will sound really stupid to you * but the taste reminded me of orange and apricot flavoured Ribena and I seriously convinced myself that was the only reason for smoking it.
But hey * as I feel I have to keep saying and reminding you guys, the past is the past * I haven't been part of that world for a very, very long time now and never in a million years ever intend on going back to it. But the truth is the truth and I know that it will not only open many eyes * but for a lot of people they will be able to relate to so much of what takes place that it will make it an intriguing read for everybody.
It really isn't so much that any of today's problems will be solved through Ar* Back Yard. It will just open people's eyes to the reality and violence that prevails through that world. Both back then and today right here and now in this day and age.
It will show how friendships are formed like a band of brothers and how they can become torn apart through the very one thing that they are all involved with * how relationships develop and sometimes fail * it will show how corruption thrives * it will show how old scores never go forgotten and the past will always come back to haunt you.
So although it may not solve any of the world's problems * it may however open peoples eyes to the reality of them.
I think that the authenticity of the life style and how the way drugs crept unwittingly so more openly into peoples lives back then. The way that the drug ecstasy broke down so many racial and social barriers in a way that any politician could have only ever have dreamt of. How the drugs changed everything by not only taking them to a new level as described before * but also by how the drugs will eventually betray everything.
There was also the music scene that was very important back then and that went hand in hand with the beginning of what would become the clubbing scene. This not only included Dance music but very importantly bands like The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, 808 State * just a handful of whom played a major part in what became known as the Madchester scene.
It was a very important time for Manchester and one that will definitely in years to come go down in history. Music is still also one of the very most important factors in my life in this day and age. I follow all new music and have a very varied taste.
I still go to as many gigs as I possibly can to watch both established and also up and coming artists. I love an entire range of different artists from all over the world. And love so many varied acts from Marvin Gaye to the Sex Pistols to Public Enemy to Oasis to The Foo Fighters to the Gallows. I think you*re getting the picture here.
However, I think what music did for Manchester was put it on the map with the bands like Joy Division, The Smiths, New Order, Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses * all the way through that era into one of the greatest bands in the world today * Oasis * even through to a band who I watched only a month ago from Manchester who I predict will be huge this year called The Courteeners who are awesome.
I feel that without music so much in life would never have taken place.
Also with the book we shouldn't forget the characters themselves. Chopper who takes you into and through his world and gives you the reader an insight into what it was like for people like him and those around him. I want you to feel the friendships and the betrayals as though you are experiencing them for yourselves.
I feel that with so many great characters throughout the book that everybody will be able to find someone they can relate to. I also feel this will be the case as the handful of people who have read it so far all have had different characters for whom they have related to personally or loved or even loathed.
It really does give a very real insight into how criminal minds work. I really don't want to sound like a pretentious dick or like some shrink here. But sometimes people don't seem to get that to real criminals business is simply that * business * it's not about status or any of that other crap associated with it.
I want to show that when you work in this industry that when it came to business you worked harder than most legit people out there. It's not like the movies where these so called criminals sit around all day and the money makes itself. Far from it * in fact it's probably twice or three times as hard to run something like this business as you will constantly have to watch the security side of the business with the police forever wanting to close you down. Or worse still * other criminals wanting to move in on your business and take control by any means necessary.
And at the end of the day what are you going to do? Run to the police? No * you are forced into a corner where by you'll have to take control of situations like that by yourselves and that is what we did.
I think that it also fair to say that what happened has affected the way I now perceive life. The reason I mention this is that I know for a fact there is so many, many people out there who lived not necessarily within the business or violence side of the world * but who were heavily involved in the clubbing scene and the drugs that went hand in hand with it and more than likely feel that yes * that period in their lives back then was most definitely changed in some way by what took place.
I know that for all of the great times and all of the very bad times I would never go back and change any of it. For me it opened up a new world and a new way to look at life.
I*m not saying what I did was right in way, shape or form. But life on the streets living within that world gave me the kind of education that for any of us who experienced it * probably perceived it as the best education system in the world back then.
So there you have it guys. All the good * and the bad. Sorry if I*ve upset or offended anybody by what you just read. But I think by allowing you the full undisclosed access to what you have just read gives you and better insight into not only myself * but also Ar* Back Yard itself.
For more information about the author and Ar' Back Yard please go to www.arbackyard.com and check out the five extracts, synopsis, general information relating to the book, character profiles and contact information.
Not long to go now*
Take it easy as always.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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