Monthly Archives: September 2011

The */***** Controversy

One star or five stars? Do you bother to rate the books you read on Amazon? There’s a new row brewing, and it’s over the way in which these ratings may be manipulated. Out of 69 ratings on the US site of Amazon for the recent novel, ‘The Priest’s Graveyard’ it has apparently received 51 […]

Re:View – ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’

George Smiley (Gary Oldman) hardly moves. He listens and observes. For the first 20 minutes of this new version of John Le Carre’s best-known spy novel he doesn’t even speak. Like Alec Guinness before him, he vanishes into the very busy seventies’ wallpaper as he tries to ferret out the mole at the top of […]

Are Bookshops The New Antique Shops?

Yesterday I was walking along Jermyn Street, marvelling about its ability to remain in the past – there are still barbers and shirt shops dating from the 1750s, and they’re surprisingly good value, often offering two or three shirts for the price of one – and I passed Waterstone’s. There was thick dust on its […]

The London Author Hardly Anyone Knows

He is one of the greatest London authors you’ve never heard of. He wrote possibly the best Second World War novel of them all, and his masterpiece of London life is virtually unknown – reading ‘King Dido’ I finally understood the missing links in the London before me. So what happened to Alexander Baron? This […]

Re:View – ‘Decade’

Ten years after 9/11, the National Theatre and Headlong examine a decade filled with grief, prejudice, rhetoric and hope from the perspective of twenty writers, some new, some up-and-coming, some US, some British. The result of this workshop is a powerful piece of site-specific theatre that reminds us why there is no other theatre in […]

Why Museums Wear You Out

Why is walking round a museum more exhausting than going for a walk? Apparently it’s because walking around a museum tends not to involve much actual walking, but a lot of standing and pondering. Standing (especially at pondering angles) puts uneven stress on muscles, tendons and joints. When walking at an even/regular pace, we constantly […]

Re:View – ‘Attack The Block’

Joe Cornish’s ‘Attack The Block’ received rave reviews from the critics, and in many ways rightly so, but – well, there’s a big BUT. The story of a South London street gang who take on an alien invasion is slick and compact. After a female alien smash-lands on a council estate, the kids spend the […]

When Will London Be Full Up?

London is about to open the biggest art and design facility in the world. In two weeks’ time, 4,500 students will pour into the new St Martin’s College of Art & Design. Every day they’ll be filling a renovated warehouse on my doorstep. The site is the spot where ‘Bryant & May on the Loose’ […]

Where In London?

Let’s have a bit of a quiz to warm you up for the coming COMPO, when I’ll be giving away copies of my new novel ‘Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood’. In which quiet central London backstreet will you find this surprisingly ornate church? and where are these eagles? (They’ve recently been revealed […]

No More Usual Suspects

With autumn comes news that we’ll shortly have a new slew of literary adaptations in our cinemas – good, it’s about time more books were adapted into films. What will we get, China Mieville’s ‘The City And The City’, JG Ballard’s ‘The Drowned World’ or perhaps something a bit more obscure – Alexander Baron’s ‘King […]