Monthly Archives: February 2012

On Readability

I’ve touched on this subject before, but we are now approaching the end of this year’s judging for the Gold Dagger for best crime novel, and a last minute flourish by my swearing postman has brought eleven novels squeaking to the finish line for reading. When you read a huge amount for work or pleasure […]

The Mysteries of Trains

I bought a return train ticket direct to Glasgow from London on Virgin Trains. This is how many tickets I need for that. I asked the porter why and he gave me the company line. ‘I don’t know – it’s a bit rubbish, isn’t it?’

Underground London

Every time I think I know central London as well as any taxi driver, something grows a curveball at me. How could I never have walked through these Victorian or possibly Edwardian tunnels beneath Exhibition Road? Each has a glass gondola fitted in the roof every few hundred yards, and they connect all of the […]

Re:View – ‘West Is West’

In 1999, ‘East Is East’ deservedly became a smash hit in UK cinemas. The story of George and Ella Kahn, their rambunctious family and their life in a Salford chip shop in the early 1970s was a culture clash comedy with a serious side. Given the ongoing collapse of mining, the rising unemployment and the […]

Run, It’s The New London Fashions!

As I get older it becomes harder to find anything to wear that doesn’t make me look like either Dave Stewart or Bruce Forsyth, but the rack choice is now between ‘Young & Clueless’ and ‘High-Waisted Slacks Found At The Back Of Local Newspaper’. Failing that, I could simply go out as ‘Mental Patients Find […]

The Randomness Of eBooks

It’s hot in King’s Cross, Central London, where August has accidentally replaced February, and I’m sitting on my terrace with a book, having a late lunch. Idly I decide to download it, but no luck; Kindle does not have it. So I go in and flick through my library shelves looking for what Kindle does […]

Scottish Frights!

I’ll be appearing at Glasgow Frightfest this Saturday night, giving away copies of ‘Hell Train’ from the stage. There’s an amazing roster of films showing over Friday and Saturday, and stars are coming in from all over the place for what will undoubtably be a great event. I’ll be signing books afterwards, so if you […]

How America Improved My English

Listening to Gilbert & Sullivan recently I was reminded that I owe America a debt of gratitude for teaching me about something so deeply English. At school we had been taught to avoid G&S as outdated and ‘impure’ music. It was operetta, or ‘opera bouffe’ in that like Offenbach it contained recitative, and therefore was […]

London’s Lost Film Studios

News that Twickenham Studios is to close reminds me of other now-vanished studios. At the time of its construction, close to the start of the 20th century, Twickenham was the largest studio in the UK. It made films like ‘Call of the Sea’, and steadily produced forgotten films like ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Rembrandt’, […]

More Gems From Old Guide Books

Once again I set off to discover whether another peculiarity suggested in old London guide books might still prove to exist in our rebuilt city. St Katherine Cree Church in Aldgate is the only church in the City of London that still rings its church bells of a Sunday morning. But there’s a stranger event […]