Hallowe’en Horror Is Going To Be A Problem This Year

In these newly extreme times, the one area in which extremism hasn’t triumphed is in the arts. As we approach Hallowe’en I wonder how long it will be before the spectre of horror censorship rises again, and art that shocks is banned. If any serious film dares to address, on any level, the problems of […]

You Don’t Have To Get Fat Working At Home

Working at home means never being far from the fridge, in London at least; it’s perilously close to my desk. After living in France I went to Barcelona primarily to work, because the days are so ridiculously long that I can average about four hours more a day. Everything starts late; to cope with the […]

What Happened Next?

I often write about ideas that occur because I’m thinking about current events, but I don’t follow up with what happened next. Here’s a quick round-up of what DID happen next after certain recent articles.. 1. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I was still at work on a historical epic called ‘The Foot […]

‘Don’t Try Anything Funny’

‘Having a pronounced sense of humour is not a job qualification,’ a teacher once told me. I could have replied that having a low droning voice like a distant lawnmower was not a teacher’s job qualification, but I fear that would have proved his point.   Problem is, my desire for high learning is tempered […]

Everyone Has A Fantasy (Film, That Is)

  (Updated) Fantasy films were the first things I saw at the cinema (although my mother did also drag me to George Bernard Shaw’s ‘The Devil’s Disciple’). It started, as I imagine it once did for a great many people, with ‘The Wizard of Oz’, which was rereleased in London at least twice a year. […]

Another Thriller? I Must Be Mad

Of the many different genres in which I’ve dabbled, thrillers are the trickiest. From the mid-nineteenth century novels of Alexandre Dumas onwards there have been thriller rules established that remain in place today. The genre enjoyed a postwar heyday through Ian Fleming, but largely fell out of fashion (kept alive by Lee Child) until the […]

More On The Trouble With Anthologies

To be clear, a written anthology is a set of stories by different authors, often on a common theme. A collection is a set of stories by one author. Some publishers still get the distinction wrong on their covers. The advantage of producing a collection is obvious; the reader gets a kaleidoscopic view of the author’s […]

Pleasing The Crowds

In 2015 Public Policy Polling asked voters in the US primary elections whether they favoured the bombing of Agrabah. A third of Republicans said they did, with 13% opposed, the figures reversing for Democrats. Agrabah is a fictional town from Disney’s ‘Aladdin’. It’s now known that people ignore science that doesn’t fit with their currently […]

The Trouble With Anthologies

The BBC created a tradition of filming a classic ghost story for Christmas (the best of their choices is now out in a collectors’ Blu-Ray edition) and the same problem that bedevils written anthologies is magnified on film. Some stories simply fail to create the intended effect, leaving weak spots in the overall series or […]

Now With Extra Weirdness!

I hope you’ll forgive me for banging the drum about forgotten authors again this week, but the paperback came out a few days ago, now updated and with new material, and I feel I should do a spot of advertising. Regulars, stand down. So, in case you’re new here, this is my most recent non-fiction […]