Fiction Gets Woke

The idea of being ‘woke’ isn’t so much new jargon, but a way of rebottling old wine with new subtleties. The word, which is African-American in origin, concerns the perceived awareness of issues concerning social, feminist and racial identity but is expanding to include all consciousness-raising matters. One can trace the racial use back to the […]

Comedy Not Funny: Official

An interesting piece in the London Times this morning. Shane Allen, Head of BBC comedy, has declared old comedy dead and says that shows like Monty Python which feature ‘six white Oxbridge males’ wouldn’t be commissioned now, and that in future there will be more diversity, with the all-black show ‘Famalam’ proving popular. Now, there […]

Should We Talk About The World Cup?

(No. Ed)

Ten Day Book Challenge: The Final Run

It looks nice outside. I wish I was there. While I’ve been entombed in the flat, locked away like a lighthouse keeper, summer has kicked in, late this year but welcome. London is hotter, bizarrely, but here there is silence. I live in the old town where there are no cars, so the only sounds […]

‘The Staircase’ Isn’t A Whodunnit

No Spoilers Netflix’s new documentary series isn’t new or theirs; it was made by a man with the Frenchest name in the world, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, over many years and has been screened in parts before on the BBC and in France. It has also been the subject of numerous true-crime TV shows, books and podcasts. […]

10 Day Book Challenge: Everyone’s A Critic

I set out to write the final draft of my latest novel in ten days. Now read on: Everybody’s a critic. Yesterday while I was working on the balcony, a parrot flew past and delivered a review. Thank god it missed the keyboard. I’m halfway through my self-imposed time limit on the new book and […]

What’s Your Favourite Spot?

  If you’ve ever been hypnotised, you’ll know that one of the first things you’re asked is to think of your favourite spot. Familiarity is calming. Favourite places change, I suspect, throughout your life. As a child mine was a small daisy-covered green patch behind my infants’ school where we were allowed to read on […]

10 Day Book Challenge: Day 3

So I’m up there, Piso 2, in the dark, at the laptop. It’s lower on the desk than my London screen so I hunch over. I have to lie on my back twice a day and push back my shoulders to prevent my old RSI from returning. You train for these big finishes like an […]

10 Day Book Challenge: Day 2

7:00am This is the 19th century building in which I live, a great stone dungeon that’s ice-cold even in summer (modern architects take note; if you build it properly nobody needs air conditioning). I’m clearly being tested, as today is hot and sunny, skylarks soaring about in the blue. My flat is so dark you […]

Ten Day Book Challenge: Day One

I’ve vowed to write an entire draft of a novel in ten days. Now read on; 6:00am I’m already off to whatever the opposite of a flying start is. I just checked my tickets to find I’m leaving the UK for a week, not ten days, so the word count has to rise dramatically if […]