Jez Simons

Jez Simons


© Kev Ryan


Jez: I hate talking about myself. Someone else will have to do it.
Dictaphone: So: Jez Simons was born, bred and will probably die in Leicester.
J: Have you seen the view from Gillrose cemetery? Please say something nice.
D: Jez was educated at Countesthorpe College. After graduation he taught in inner city schools before becoming a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Middlesex University.
J: Can't you make it sound more exciting than that?
D: Jez has travelled from Glen Hills to Narborough via his spiritual home, a small village outside the Indian city of Rajkot. His first success was at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs (1987) closely followed by his Battersea Arts Centre debut (1988) with Prem. His seminal work, however, was produced at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre. Featuring Meera Syal, Kirti, Sona and Ba (1989) changing his writing career forever.
J: Haven't you got a quote or something to go with that?
D: "This writing is doing for British Mainstream Theatre much the same as did 'John Osborne' in Look Back In Anger" Sir Richard Eyre (1989). Following this he was whisked away from Outram Street and dropped into Albert Square. He had no formal training in screenwriting and was naturally overwhelmed by the towering presence of the Queen Vic.
J: Can't we drop in a few names?
D: Jez is eternally grateful to the BBC scripting team. He is glad to have worked with Barbara Windsor, Mike Reed, Peter Deane, June Brown of course Adam Woodyat (yes, Ian Beale). Teaching him as much as the unforgettable actor and director Tony Yates did at university. This was followed by fifteen professionally-produced stage plays touring nationally, five different television series and two successful radio dramas.
J: Oh the glamour and glitz of the red carpet lifestyle. Dining with Lenny Henry, rebuilding a distraught Bradley Walsh, dancing the night away with Martine McCutcheon.
D: Enough!
J: Sir Michael Horden did a wonderful adaptation of my Magic Roundabout. And, despite being rather drunk, Sir Richard Harris gave me the closing speech from ‘Cromwell!': “Take this bald man away!”
D: But what about the community and grassroots projects he set up to give aspiring talent in Leicester the same chance as he'd had? Will you explain for once?
J: It would have been too easy to join the London scene, drinking wine from strange shaped glasses and eating little things on sticks. I've tried to open doors for people from Leicestershire to access the Arts. They are my inspiration. If you know where you come from, you can decide where you're going.
D: Unfortunately, Jez became disabled after a tragic accident in 2002. He can no longer produce or direct in the manner he once could. But he continues to work towards a better future for Leicestershire artists. 
J: We all have that one play, poem, painting, or novel within us that explains everything. All I have to do now is find mine.


Creative Work

From Stand Up If You Won The Cup


Meera: [singing and performing an FXL routine badly] And I like it, I like it, I like it, I like it, I lie lie lie like it, lie lie lie like it, here we go oh: Rockin all over the world.

[Sitting, out of breath] When they ask me at home if it’s going to be account, solicitor or doctor I just say; ‘oi Dad no!’ it’s the FXL for me; the foxy Ladies. OK, so I guess God didn’t have that in mind when he designed me but one day I’ll be out there in front of the Carling Stand twirling my pom-poms.

I was there last season. Were you? Wembley? Caused a storm at home I can tell you. See, I was supposed to be revising for my mock ‘A’ levels but I said to my Dad, I told him; what’s more important, the digestive system or us winning at Wembley?

He just went quiet; he knows not to argue with me over football. Don’t know what all the fuss was about; I passed with flying colours; a C and two Es.

Me? I stand behind the goal; I like a bit of rough [pause] and tumble. My Dad doesn’t know. I bought the ticket with the money I saved working in Next. ‘The retail service industry’ that’s what Dad called it. Shop assistant, I call it. Never a Saturday girl though, never on a Saturday. Most of the girls at my college are Saturday girls, spend their earnings at Rosey O’Briens and soul night when their mums and dads think they’re working late. And Asian blokes; all dark man and wearing designer labels, with their mobile phones and make like their gangsters- wannabes. No, when I go for a man, it’s going to be a real man, like that Stuart Wilson. Fit or what!

See when I turn the corner from Burnmore Street and smell the fried onions and steak and kidney pies and hear all the cries; ‘Where’s the money gone? Get your Leicester Lottery’ then I know I’m in my world, behind the goal, where I can be who I want to be and who I want to be is an FXL girl. I’m off to practice my cartwheel. That should knock them dead!

You wait: you’ll all get to see my pom-poms yet.


RAZOR: [CHANTING] Nam Myoho Renge kyo. Nam Myoho Renge kyo Nam Myoho Renge kyo

PMT. Do you suffer from it? PMT? It gets me bad, down here in me stomach. PMT. Pre-Match Tension.

[CHANTS] Nam Myoho Renge kyo Nam Myoho Renge kyo Nam Myoho Renge kyo

Head shaved ready for the game. Clippers? I don’t have clippers they’re for wossies and pussies, na, it’s the razor for me: sharp, clean, dangerous.

[SINGS] No one likes us, no one likes us, no one likes us we don’t care. We are Leicester, frightening Foxes. No one likes us we don’t care.

No one likes us, no one likes us, no one likes us it’s not fair, they never put us on the telly, no one likes us, and it’s not fair.

Call me Razor, Razor off the Northfields. You have to laugh on the Northfields, we were brung up tough. In school assembly we didn’t sing hymns, no, used to be [SINGS] Come over here if you think you’re hard enough, or, you’re going home in a ‘ucking ambulance.We never wanted to live on the Northfields. City Council gave us no choice, you know why? They gave all the best gaffs to them. The Abduls. Positive racism that’s what they call it.

[CHANTS] Nam Myoho Renge kyo.

I’ve got time on my hands see, loads of it. Haven’t worked since I lost my job in the Boot and shoe industry. It was odds on at the beginning of the season for me to go down. Down the job club, re-start enterprise, whatever they call it, it’s still the social to me. Odds on to go down, we’ll see.

Destiny. Dharma. Razor lived all his life waiting to be part of destiny.

Razor knows that when your name’s written on the cup, engraved on the silverware, then nothing can stop destiny.


CHARLIE: [SINGS TO HIMSELF] he’s here, he’s there, he’s every flippin where Rodney Fern, Rodney Fern . . . . . [HE TRAILS OFF IN REMINISCENCE]. It’s funny isn’t it, how your mind plays tricks: I could’ve sworn there was 58 thousand of us here a minute ago. Leatherhead, third round of the FA cup, nineteen seventy... [HE KNOCKS HIS HEAD TRYING TO REMEMBER] I told you, the old bird brain playing tricks again. It was only a minute ago wasn’t it?

[SINGS] Lenny, Lenny Glover, Lenny Glover on the wing. Lenny, Lenny Glover, Lenny Glover on the wing. Ging gang goolie goolie goolie watch ya ging gang goo, ging gang goo.

I could’ve been in the Scouts but I had a paper round. I’m Charlie. I know everything there is to know about the Fighting Filberts. That’s what we used to be called, cos we were all nuts!

I’ve stood behind the goal since they knocked the old members stand down. I’m not one for suits and televised replays. No, if you’re not cold enough for a flask at half time then it’s not real football.

When I was young, when I was, I used to work overtime at Pecks Socks to buy a season ticket; my own seat in the wing stand. Not so much a seat, more a small part of a blue bench, two white lines and your number. Girls never came to football or to pubs and you went courting in them days. After the match you’d meet under the Clock Tower and you’d walk out with them and they’d put their cardigan over your arm. The winters were hard and long, there was always snow, but they never cancelled a match and we didn’t have any of these fancy tents, deep soil heating and astronaught turf. No, they used to bring the sand over from Indgomelds or Skegness. The seasiders that’s what we were called. Come on the seasiders! Because the pitch was covered with sand. All we needed was a donkey, mind you we had plenty of them playing for us in them days.
Skegness, that’s where I was when the first million pound player, Alan Clarke, scored that goal in 1969. The goal that took us to Wembley for the fourth time. Sitting in the Victa looking at the sea and listening to the crackley wireless. Alan Clarke, the golden boot. I didn’t go to the FA cup semi-final, we’d just lost the baby, it didn’t seem right, so me and the misses went to Skeggy for the day. I wanted to try again but she said she’d sooner get a dog.

[LAUGHING TO HIMSELF] Do you know what she used to say, ‘it’s only a game Charlie, football’s only a game.’ After we lost the baby, it was my life.



In 1998 Leicester City FC reached a remarkable milestone, winning their first ever Coca-Cola cup. In recognition of that achievement I created a new genre: the football musical. Entitled Stand Up If You Won The Cup! (1998), it follows individual supporters on their way to Wembley. I don't know about imagery or symmetry, or starkness and grammars. These are real words, from real people about the gritty ’ups and downs’ of their lives. I am in it somewhere too. Here we have three monologues presented separately but performed simultaneously from three very different supporters, united by by their blue-and-white shirts.            

Don't ask me to explain how to write, I really have no idea. I couldn't write a ‘how-to' book for love or money. In my most recent commission and production called Where Were You When Janis Joplin Died?, the material splurged out from the darkest recesses of my brain onto the paper and I sort of went from there. I have no recollection of where it came from or what it was about, but the producer seems to like it.           

I didn't want, train for or dream of being a writer. It happened to me and, to be absolutely honest, it has often proved more of a curse than a treasure. But, from weddings to barmitzvahs, I am always open to anyone and anything new that excites me. I am available for weddings to barmitzvahs.



‘Publish me when I’m dead’, that’s what I say. Any day now the finger of fate is going to tap me on the shoulder and say “Oi mate, you’re a fake!’ If you have to read about the writing try Language and the Art of Diversity, by DR Valerie Shepherd (and about as available as ‘Fly Fishing’ by JR Hartley.)


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