Weirdly Forgotten: The Eventful Life Of Algernon Blackwood

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In the league table of lately obscure British writers, the name of Algernon Blackwood ranks pretty highly. When you try to remember him, images from a handful of strange short stories might come to mind, and such memories may only have stayed with you at a subconscious level because his tales were collected in the […]

Outsiders & Eccentrics: London On Film

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After finishing ‘Film Freak’ I realised that the book was more or less a requiem for popular British film, and that the only future for a national cinema seemed to lay in arthouse independents or films selling ‘Englishness’ to overseas audiences. Since then, all that has come to pass, with even the delightful ‘Paddington’ films […]

Tom Tryon, Forgotten Author & Alien Sex God

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Well, I had eye surgery yesterday; the first step that I hope eventually restores my sight enough to work easily. I’m writing a longer piece on film and London for tomorrow, hopefully, but meanwhile here’s something else from the vaults. Like many old movies, this one has grown more interesting with hindsight. It’s a 50s […]

Saturday Song!

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While I’m having sight problems I’m using pre-prepared blog items every few days to get me through; they’re all new, but I can’t write lengthy perambulatory pieces about London at the moment. This week’s song comes from the opening of the 1979 Palme D’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival ‘All That Jazz’, about the […]

Shelf Interest: Books About Books

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‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ isn’t the only book about books around at this time of the year. I’ve picked up a few already and I’m sure there are more to come. Here’s what I’ve got so far… Bookshops – they look like the cosiest places in the world to work, don’t they? Apparently not, […]

Victorian London As You’ve Never Seen It

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I get quite hot under the collar when writers who set their books in the past make fundamental mistakes. Two that spring to mind are a terrible novel about Victorian London by an American mid-Western author who apparently hadn’t noticed that the nation’s currency once consisted of pounds, shillings and pence (she had her hero […]

The Secret Life Of Objects

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Objects. You only have to use them. We writers have to describe them, over and over again. After a while you start to run out of ways to describe a table or a coat or a drink or rain. Weather conditions crop up in every book, and colours are so frequently required that you end […]

Bryant & May On Haitus

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There may be a disruption in your normal service; I’ve suddenly developed severe PVD which has effectively blinded me in one eye. I’m hoping the effects are temporary because it’s a total drag on my writing speed. It seems that whatever else I wrote, I would always come back to my elderly detectives Bryant & […]

Judging A Book By Its Cover

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The new Bryant & May novel, ‘Hall Of Mirrors’, is getting ready to go to print, and almost has a cover. I say ‘almost’ because we’ve been through a lot of styles to find the right image, for two reasons; first, we have Max Schindler back on the art (he joined us at ‘Bryant & […]

Rather A Shame: How The English Language Is Changing

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Language is always changing, even though we may not notice it. UK English has always been fundamentally different from US English. In any lexicon of English there’s always a list of cockney rhyming slang, 95% of which has not been heard outside of ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’. I was reminded […]