Letter From BCN No.1

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How could you not love a centuries-old tradition that combines love, literature and flowers? April 23rd is St Jordi’s Day, and the city turns into a very romantic party. Like many other countries in Europe, Spain shares a common legend with England, that of St George fighting the dragon. The Spanish version cleaves closely to […]

To Stay Or To Go?

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My partner says he never heard the word ‘inside’ used to mean at home before he came to the UK. It’s true, we grew up thinking of us as being at home and everyone else as foreign. I blame the Victorians. I arrived back in Barcelona feeling virus-filled and exhausted, but after watching people in […]

The Strange Story of ‘The Birds’

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I greatly enjoyed Stephen King’s  ‘Salem’s Lot’ and ‘The Shining’, but found much of the rest of his prose too eager to please, too Gawk-Tousle-And-Shucks for my tastes. I wasn’t long out of school, I was heavily into Dickens and Waugh, and would have simply placed King in the cool holiday reading category if critics […]

Another Shop Window

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Regular readers know that this isn’t the usual writer’s blog – I’m not terribly good at flogging my own books, and would rather talk about anything under the sun. You’ll also know I have a history of posting shop windows here. And speaking of ‘under the sun’, here’s a Barcelona travel agency, knew to sell […]

Great London Pubs No. 1: The Pineapple

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I’ve written about this one before, but it seems right to kick off a new series with it. North London’s Kentish Town has always been the home of penniless artists, writers, ruffians, mountebanks and charlatans, not to mention stoners, loners and ladies of slender means. But over the years it has lost many of its […]

Praise The Lord And Pass The Popcorn

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  Every few years biblical movies come along – I missed the great wave of postwar religious films like ‘The Robe’ although I saw and loved ‘Ben-Hur’. Chariots! Lepers! It was so much fun I forgot Jesus was in it. Then came John Huston’s ludicrous ‘The Bible – In The Beginning’, with a painfully literal […]

Can Less Choice Be More?

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“Coming to visit, dear? I’ll het the sprouts on.’ The downside of visiting my mum was knowing she’d allow an hour for the cooking of vegetables. She was a classic postwar English ’3 Ps’ cook – puddings, pies and pastries, all superb. Everything else was like chewing boiled rope. Then in 1965 supermarkets arrived and […]

London Corners – Keystone Crescent

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There are hundreds of books about London, many of them repetitive regurgitations of factoids, but of course there are many gems, including ‘Tired of London, Tired of Life: One Thing A Day To Do In London’ by the excellent Tom Jones, expanded from his hardworking website. (He has also pulled off the same trick for […]

Overlooked Movies – No.1

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Why did a movie that should have been a sure-fire box office success bomb so badly? ‘Joe Versus The Volcano’ tanked despite its star credentials, but why? It had the production support of Steven Spielberg and the starpower of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It had a great writer; John Patrick Shanley, who wrote ‘Moonstruck’ and […]

So UFOs Were Real – In A Sense

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A bit of publicity for my friend Mark Pilkington, the publisher of the wonderful ‘Strange Attractor’ magazine (and also the first ‘Invisible Ink’ book) who has been involved in making a feature documentary. Here are the details of its first screening at the very odd and excellent Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury: MIRAGE MEN (2014) 90M HOW […]