We Don’t All Climb The Same Peaks

Let’s start at base camp When it comes to the arts, there’s a scale of achievement many of us feel we have to tackle. The base camp for books is not Mr Dan Brown, as many might think, but the novels of Joan Collins. Joan was taken to court by Random House (my publisher in […]

Accent!

There are currently 37 dialects in the UK While we are waiting for the venerable Mr Tim Goodman to un-self-isolate so that the audio version of ‘Oranges & Lemons’ can make its way to its listeners, let’s consider the voice for a few minutes. ‘Accent!’ Max Adrian, the producer in Ken Russell’s ‘The Boy Friend’ […]

London Is Not What It Was (And That’s A Good Thing)

‘If you ‘go out’ – and who doesn’t these days? – you’ll need this.’ So begins one popular 1940s travel guide. The concept of ‘going out’ seems relatively recent in the UK, which explains a hell of a lot. In 1952 a gentleman named John Metcalf decided to produce a book about London with a […]

Three Questions For Writers

Question 1: Early Work – Bin or Keep? Last week I posed a question on Twitter to other authors.  It was prompted by the discovery of four novels I had written between the ages of 12 and 16. They are uniformly dreadful, derivative and clumsy, with only a rudimentary grasp of construction. To be honest, I […]

No Time To Read?

When I was young I used to have a framed print of Charles Edward Perugini’s ‘Girl Reading’ on my wall. It’s amazing how many paintings there are of women reading – perhaps because it was considered a genteel, passive image, demure, ladylike and calming. It also suggests virginity or purity; the girl in white, the […]

8 Really, Really Uncomfortable Films

Unbehagen is the German word for discomfort or unease. Horror films shock but the best supernatural films are suffused with the melancholy of loss (‘The Others’, ‘The Orphanage’, ‘The Innocents’). Then there are the films that go to uncomfortable places. ‘Goodfellas’ made good on the ever-present threat in gangster films to explode into violence, and […]

I Spy The Next Bryant & May

One of the purposes of the Bryant & May series is to try out different sub-genres within the overall embracing genre of crime fiction. I’ve already worked my way through many of them – I’ll stop when I’ve done them all – but one which has until now eluded me is the spy story. I […]

Another London Walk Part 2

In the face of so much change, it’s pleasing to the senses to wander into a church and find it still intact after over a thousand years. At least some places were built to last. Lurking behind the dust-mote beams in St Bartholomew the Great, in the south transept of the Square Mile’s extraordinary priory […]

Another London Walk Part 1

The last few days of fine late summer weather have lured me out to look around at the streets. One walk sends me through half a dozen surprising London churches, another gets me along the Thames and a third passes through the alleyways of Clerkenwell and the Square Mile. I started wondering: How can a […]

Fancy Words & Plain English

This is the latest in an occasional round-up on readers and writers, books and their readability or unreadability, general discussion points for us all. First up; Are you a book snob? Recent reports suggest that one reason for not buying e-books is that others don’t know what you’re reading. Women find men who carry books […]