The Supernatural On Film Part 1

Last night I saw ‘Hereditary’ in a cinema with broken-down air-conditioning, such was my desperation to catch it. I’m addicted to good supernatural films, ie. not the bump-and-jump scare tactics of anything that says ‘From the producers of ‘The Conjuring’. But there’s a paradox at the heart of every supernatural film. To truly work it needs […]

Where To Set Your Story

So I’m sitting in a seafront restaurant and friends explain why we’re here at this awkward location; a scene from John Le Carré’s ‘The Night Manager’ was set here. It never occurred to me to set books anywhere other than London. I remembered the opening chapters of John Wyndham’s ‘The Day of the Triffids’, in […]

From Mice To Penguins

As 92 year-old David Attenborough launches his namesake polar ship, popularly known as ‘Boaty McBoatface’, I’m reminded that planet management never gets easier. On the island of Macquarie, between Australia and Antarctica, problems started soon after it was discovered in 1810. The island’s fur seals, elephant seals and penguins were killed for fur and blubber, but […]

America’s New International Role: Public Enemy

  It’s not usually what state visits are used for, but then the POTUS doesn’t go for usual. On his first presidential visit to the UK (primarily to open the so-called Fortress of Solitude, a bombproof embassy that has a moat) he’s announced no confidence in our PM and has instead nominated Boris Johnson, as […]

High Culture, Low Culture

….the recent talk of books and football brings us on to the next point several of you raised yesterday, viz, that you can read Proust and also read Viz. But conformity is pushed onto us in the world of books too. There’s a distinctly middle-class feel to many literary festivals (Cheltenham is probably the most […]

Reading A Book? You Loser!

  Reading VS Football Part 2. It was the game that had all English football fans dreaming, said the BBC, then the co-commentator Martin Keown launch a bizarre attack on book-lovers. The former Arsenal defender took umbrage at people who preferred to read rather than watch the England-Sweden quarter-final of the World Cup. ‘There might be someone […]

Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly…

…although I might as well stay in London, which has started to resemble the ending of ‘The Day the Earth Caught Fire’. It’s well worth watching that film again, BTW, it’s barely SF at all, more about the workings of old Fleet Street, because it was written by a newspaperman. I once met the film’s […]

Clerihews And Clues

Books are often dedicated to other writers. GK Chesteron’s strange novel about anarchist terrorism, ‘The Man Who Was Thursday’, is dedicated to EC Bentley, born in 1875. The pair had met as schoolboys at St Paul’s and became fast friends. Bentley went to Oxford, but left law studies to become a journalist, in which profession he […]

Books VS Football: An Outsiders’ View

Above the city you could hear the roar; I couldn’t help but hear England’s win against Colombia. There were crowds outside pubs and opposite me even the supposedly sophisticated cocktail bar had lugged a screen onto its terrace. It was as if the whole city was watching the football on this hot summer night. I wasn’t. […]

Six Strange Summer Reads

It’s the time of year when every newspaper gives us a list of summer reads, books selected – sometimes with the publishers’ collusion – to appeal to its particular demographic, so romances in Tuscan villas for the Sunday Times, and First World War exploits for the Telegraph. There are plenty of good reads around this […]