A Sheffield Talk

Some while back I gave a talk about forgotten authors in Sheffield. I’m not sure I’ve published it before, probably not in this form. It may be of passing interest only, but here it is; Once there were popular novels almost everyone owned. Mum had Georgette Heyer, Dad had Eric Ambler, kids had Billy Bunter […]

Schrödinger’s Virus

Summer, distinguishable from spring by nomenclature only, gave us a better manifestation of philosophical pessimism than Schopenhauer ever came up with. And as it shrivelled and dribbled away it seemingly took with it Covid, which has largely vanished from British front pages even though the infection rates on our overcrowded little island are higher than almost […]

Behind The Scenes At The Cheltenham Literary Festival

The smaller literary festivals – the ones where you have to stay overnight in a hotel room that still has a trouser press – are a bit like attending a bathroom fittings convention. We drink too much, stay up too late and have a good moan about work. The Cheltenham Literary Festival is not like that. […]

History & Mystery

My hair, the one change everyone swore they could predict, never fell out. But it did turn white. Now it’s starting to turn black. Every day’s a surprise in C-Land. As my fuzzy head clears and I build up a head of steam to write, the question is no longer ‘Can I?’ but ‘What should […]

The Privileged Few

There Are Too Many ‘Privileged Few’ There’s a simple way to work out how rich you are; count the number of choices you have. Could you choose a new house, a new car, a new career? Most in the poverty trap have no choices. I chose my job out of instinct rather than careful consideration. […]

Clouds In My Head

Winter Is Icumen In After last year’s glorious summer there was a hope that this year Britain would enjoy the same, but to gamble on the weather is to have your hopes smashed. Here’s the Met office on why it felt like the British summer was flushed down the drain; ‘The perception of a summer […]

Surviving Chernobyl

Billy Bunter’s Big Blowout Recently I went to a party where there were lots of old friends I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. It was lovely to see them after lockdown, and there was so much of them to see. They were, well there’s no other way of putting this, fat, but dare I […]

The Matchbox

It was larger than I remembered. Deeper, with bigger matches. The box was a gift to me – it’s the first matchbox I’ve ever received – from my lovely neighbour Lou. It says on the front: ‘Quis Separabit’ – ‘Who will separate us?’ from Romans 8:35. It refers to the union and is usually decorated […]

Why Does Dracula Never Grow Old?

He’s the IP that never needs fresh blood. His fans still lap him up. What’s the appeal? The thirst for new material from the old Hammer Films studio is extraordinary, and an entire industry built up around this esoteric corner of the entertainment industry. The above volumes have been republished with new sections bringing the […]

It’s All Just Words

Pressing The Nib I’m bored of writing about illness so let’s discuss more interesting subjects. Did the above sentence bother you? The ‘of’ instead of ‘with’? I notice the Youngs are using it. Does it matter? The flickering intricacies of the English language would test the patience of a poet. We learn to write in […]