A Fairytale For Christmas

I promised to post a Christmas fairytale this season. It was written to commission, the brief being to twist a traditional story. There are certain styles you can adopt very easily, the Sherlock Holmes approach for example, and fairy tales have a rhythm all their own that dates back to their Victorian translators. And can […]

Writers’ Desert Island Tools

Let’s imagine you’re cast away on a tropic isle and are still consumed with a burning desire to write. What do you take with you when you leave that burning ship and strike out for the beach? OK, the island has broadband – yes, and shops, let’s not push the analogy too far. My real […]

A Review Of A Murder Mystery By Someone Who Writes Them

I published a short review of this film a couple of months back, but now that it’s on general release I’ve revisited it with some further thoughts. NO SPOILERS There’s an in-built snobbery about the crime novel, a look of disdain from literary writers who disregard genre writing as having nothing to say. They should […]

Judgement On Nuremberg

London is simply too eerily blue-skied and sunny at the moment, so we hied ourselves off to visit friends in Nuremberg at the weekend. Bavaria’s second city was snowless but not exactly Christmas-free, with seven Christmas markets, too many Bavarian sausages and too much Glühwein available on every corner. Our charming friends live in an elegant […]

The British Bee Hive

I first became properly aware of this image when I saw it used as an enormous front-cloth in ‘Sweeney Todd’ on Broadway. George Cruikshank’s etching was designed in 1840 and was brought up to date by him in 1867. I’d like to have included a much larger image but it’s readily available online. The political […]

The Friday Song

To commemorate Mr Trump visiting London with a thousand armed minders making sure that protesters couldn’t reach him, I thought we’d have a little number dedicated to the NRA. NB Not intended as a comment on US foreign policy.    

How Popular Cinema Could Be Popular Again

Cinema was always called the populist medium. Generations of young audiences grew up with Bambi and Batman, Tarzan and Terminator, then went on to the world of Marvel superheroes, cheerfully unaware that these stories stemmed from comics dating back to the 1960s. Hollywood is going through one of its periodic growing pains. Its domestic revenue […]

The Obsession That Wrecks Writers

My English teacher told me: ‘Specialise. Nobody likes a good all-rounder.’ Of course I was filled with youthful stupidity and ignored him, wasting years trying to please everyone instead of myself.  During this time I had ample opportunity to study other writers and quickly identified an odd group. Instead of talking about the craft they obsessed […]

What I’m Reading In December 2

The rest of my bedside table stack comprises; ‘Crime Fiction: A Reader’s Guide’ by the ever-dependable Barry Forshaw. From anyone else a book that’s essentially a collection of suggestions for crime readers might not pass muster, but in Mr Forshaw’s hands it becomes an expert’s check-list of essential must-reads. ‘Operation Mincemeat’ by Ben Macintyre delves […]

What I’m Reading In December

As the papers fill with ‘Best Of’ lists we’re being presented with all sorts of interesting books for the winter months, plus some not-very-well-hidden PR promotions. Bookshops charge for table space and listings magazine charge for entries, so to counteract these here’s a selection from my current reading pile, my only agenda being enjoyment and/or […]