Monthly Archives: January 2013

Robbery Off The Rails

This years marks the 50th anniversary of a very long-running news story. A link between Ronald Biggs and Frankie Howerd might seem ludicrous until one remembers ‘The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery’ and realises how deeply the ‘Crime of the Century’ engraved itself into the national psyche. Everyone involved in the £2.6 million haul feels […]

Anyone Still Reading Short Stories?

I’m on vacation with my Kindle, with around seventy books currently unread on it, and have found that I continue to read a lot of short stories. I’ve always loved them, from the early days of the Pan Books of Horror, and still write new ones whenever someone offers me an interesting commission. Here are […]

‘Welcome’ To Britain

News that the immigration restrictions for Eastern Europe are about to be lifted has encouraged the government to think about running anti-British ads warning that arrivals might not find it all to their liking. The Guardian is running some sent in by readers – how the British love to diss themselves! Here are a few […]

Must Fiction Accurately Reflect The Past? Part Two

I’ve read some hilariously dreadful books set in period, including one Texan novel that began with someone paying a London coachman with a ten pence piece (tender introduced in the 1970s). Probably the best answer is to keep it honest, plain and simple, but to throw in a few surprises; we are all much more squeamish […]

Must Fiction Accurately Reflect The Past? Part One

It’s a problem besetting any writer working in a period setting. How far do you go to recreate the past? Only a decade or two has to pass before the past becomes almost unrecognisable. Go a little further back and it becomes almost impossible to render accurately. This problem is particularly pronounced in film. The […]

Bond Lairs

I’m once more having a few nights exercising my predilection for Bond lairs and brutalist architecture A few years back I stayed in Geoffrey Bawa’s astonishing modernist masterpiece the Heritance in Sri Lanka, which is built like a long concrete snake along the spine of a central mountain. It’s not for everyone, as the austere […]

Village London

As freezing fog and snow continue to paralyse London, I’m heading to Langshott Manor today, in the Sussex countryside. This is the kind of place overseas visitors get teary-eyed about, although I don’t personally have the Noel Coward gene and tend to regard such places with horror, associating them with floral brocade curtain tiebacks, flinty-eyed […]

The Casebook of Bryant & May Opens!

It’s arrived – the stunningly illustrated guide to all things Bryant & May is finally here, and was well worth the wait. I haven’t been this excited since they cancelled my operation. Cult artist Keith Page and PS Publishing have done the old boys proud with beautiful full-colour glossy repro, and there’s an edition with […]

America, Please Could We Have Your President?

            Yes, he inherited an avenging militaristic legacy, but from his second inaugural speech Barack Obama had us at hello. Meanwhile, we’re stuck with David ‘Balloon Animal’ Cameron and his unwilling cohorts. Just weight it up. Obama – Has reiterated themes of equality and fairness. Cameron – has widened the […]

Not Coming To A Bookshop Near You

Okay, it’s easy to scoff, so let’s have a good laugh at this lot. Publisher Mark Pilkington recommended this website which reveals a whole other world of literature hitherto hidden from public gaze. Here you’ll find tales of fat people, elves, black-velvet sword-and-something fantasies, illegible typefaces, partworks involving made-up names, more elves, and a book […]