Shakespeare-Phobes, Here’s How To Get The Bard

  Each year I write a short piece on Mr Billy Shakespeare, and this is today’s. It’s not enough to be able to decipher the more complex parts of the Bard’s work (would that we all had enough time to do so), we have to discover it through sometimes appallingly modish stage re-inventions (I’ve sat […]

Today’s The Day! ‘Hall Of Mirrors’ Is Launched

Okay, I’m a newcomer to crime & mystery genre, unless you count The Girl On The Train. Nobody counts The Girl on the Train. So you want to know what to read? Something less remedial, perhaps? Yes, I’d like a good murder mystery with memorable characters. You’ve come to the right place, squire. I’m your […]

Why Is London So Confusing?

If the Tokyo experience is lost in translation, then London’s is lost in confusion. Nothing functions as it should or is where you think it is. Let’s start with the Thames, which meanders so much that in places the North side is further South than the South side. Then there are the hospitals, which aren’t […]

Why The Sixties Didn’t Really Swing

Marianne Faithful has done the maths and reckons that ‘Swinging London’ consisted of no more than 300 people in the know. In the same way that British punk mainly existed around a single shop on the King’s Road and later in a handful of West End streets, London’s swingers were a privileged group of bright […]

London’s Other Entertainments

While I was convalescing and unable to fly I spent a little time unearthing secret or lesser-known places tucked away across the city. Upstairs in London pubs, in basements and tunnels, odd societies are surviving, from a secret sketch club under a station to a flaneurs’ lecture class above a pub. I’ve spoken of the […]

Box Set Theatre

Box set theatre refers to those plays that run longer than the West End’s normal two-acts-and-out-by-ten plays. In the past Alan Ayckbourn wrote ‘The Norman Conquests’, three plays that ran on consecutive nights, set over one weekend, which each play showing the same disastrous events from a different angle. ‘The Life and Adventures of Nicholas […]

Passing Through The Neighbourhood

The above shot of the old King’s Cross station in London is so neat and tidy that it looks like a model. Recently I found another photograph of King’s Cross, where I live. In the forecourt of the station there was once a big dipper – a full, permanent funfair. But the area was not […]

The Friday Song

Victoria Wood and I were the same age. The ‘female Alan Bennett’ sadly died two years ago. She became a friend very early on in both our careers. I went to the first play she had staged and remained a pen-pal for a long time (I kept her hilarious letters). Some performers are naturally nervous; […]

Development Hell

Looking back over some of my short stories (I’m not nostalgic, I was waiting for my laptop to update) I recalled a funny story about the lead-up to writing the tale ‘Phoenix’, which appears in the collection called ‘Personal Demons’. At the time I had a script under option with Paramount, and as I was […]

Will Hollywood Be Annihilated?

Trigger warning; this is an unapologetically film industry-oriented column, but for me it’s an interesting subject. The Netflix movie ‘Annihilation’ is making waves for all the wrong reasons, but may ultimately turn out to favour the mega-channel and give Hollywood a spanking. Here’s why. The formerly unassailable studio system had dreams of global domination, but […]