IS Alex Higgins a "genius"?

That is one of the adjectives used by the publishers of Bill Borrows' book 'The Hurricane', to describe the former world snooker champion.

This apparent "genius", well known to be rather short of cash these days, was offered a fantastic sum of money to make a small contribution to Borrows' biography, and thus give it authorised status.

But he made Borrows buy him a Chinese meal and hotel room before he would meet up with him. The Ulsterman then turned up late for their meeting, 'borrowed' £50 to place a bet, got drunk, insulted the writer and several members of the public, and then demanded twice the original fee for collaborating on the book.

'The Hurricane' thus became an unauthorised biography.

Mind you, judging by Higgins' inability to take the blame for any of the controversial issues that have dogged his 30 years in the public eye, this book is probably much better without his input.

Borrows was one of many schoolboys wrapped up in the Higgins phenomonom in the 1970s. You get the impression from his treatment of Higgins that Borrows is desperate to believe the myth, that Higgins is something more than just a very good snooker player with a personality disorder.

Yes, he won two world titles and a number of major events in his years at the top. But his achievements are far exceeded by players such as Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis.

That is not to say that Higgins did not have redeeming qualities. He created great drama because of his unpredictability on and off the snooker table, and he was the undisputed "People's Champion" because he wore his heart on his sleeve.

He was also a hard-working man. The tales of his travelling by public transport up and down the country to take part in tournaments to raise money to fund the gambling, drink, drugs and women are comical.

While his peers would be tucked up in bed counting snooker cues, Higgins would undoubtedly be refusing another mandatory drugs test, head-butting a tournament official, or drinking with pal Oliver Reed.

Or, perhaps, jumping out of the window of his flat to get to the boozer after being locked in by his bewildered girlfriend, as he did in the late 1980s.

A character he certainly was, but "genius"? I hardly think he'll be making an impact on the BBC's forthcoming 'Great Britons' series.

'The Hurricane: The Turbulent Life & Times of Alex Higgins' by Bill Borrows is published by Atlantic Books (RRP £16.99).