Careers In Word-Smashing

What follows is my personal take on how writing as a career choice works; your experience may be different. Beware of the child who says they want to do ‘something creative’ when they enter the workforce. Creativity can appear in any job, but too often it’s used as shorthand for ‘I want to be around […]

Wedding Song Of The Week

Happy Royal Wedding Day…the sun is glorious, the pubs are covered in flags and the Windsor wedding has a gospel choir – what’s not to enjoy? To add to it, here’s Madeline Kahn, Stephen Sondheim, a live show, an impeccable performance, great lyrics (especially that list) and the final bouquet catch!

Unsentimental Sentiments: The Work Of Lissa Evans

The British don’t do warm writing. We are allergic to excessive displays of sentiment, a wartime hangover from not making a fuss and just getting on with it. We play things down. When a deranged neighbour firebombed her front garden, my old agent dismissed the incident by waving her hand and saying, ‘It merely singed […]

The National Health: Good & Bad

Is the NHS the envy of the world or a Kafkaesque nightmare? Everyone’s experience is different. My relationship with the organisation goes back to my birth, when I went straight into an oxygen tent, then continued with bouts of pneumonia through my childhood and into adulthood. Along the way I got to test its resources […]

So Long, Lois Lane

This time Lois fell off a building and Superman wasn’t there to catch her. Margot Kidder has died too young.┬áIn ‘Paperboy’ I wrote this about the DC Comics character of Lois Lane: ‘Lois would be humiliated, bullied, deceived and placed in danger by a man who was prepared to disguise himself under rubber masks just […]

When Wives Go Wild

‘No woman in 20th century American mystery writing is more important than Margaret Millar.’ So said HRF Keating (and he should know) in his overview of crime and mystery, ‘Whodunnit?’ Millar was born in Kitchener, Ontario in 1915, but moved to the US and married the crime writer Ross Macdonald (who wisely changed his name […]

London Oddities: The Horse Hospital

London is littered with meeting halls, temperance rooms, debating chambers and lecture theatres. The clubs and cafes where talks take place are often tucked under arches or in tunnels, but there are other spaces that have been repurposed for the changing times as arts venues. One is the Horse Hospital in Herbrand Street, Bloomsbury, which […]

The Londoner: Don’t Do That, Do This!

London, city of fabulous fun, city of really duff nights out – what’s the difference between the two? Simple – planning. So many friends come over asking where to meet and what to do that I feel like publishing a book about it. If you’re new to the city, it can be a daunting place. […]

Christopher & Peter

After I wrote the horror romp ‘Hell Train’ I never really went back to it. I don’t think it was a huge success (although there’s a nice German edition), partly because I went with a small publishing house, partly because it was a bit too clever for the market. The plot concerns a writer hired […]

Books VS Socks

And so I finish my week of writing articles with something a tad more light-hearted. \In 1946, George Orwell wrote an entertaining essay entitled ‘Books V Cigarettes’, in which he totted up the cost and pleasure of both and came down firmly on the side of books. After setting out to buy socks and returning […]