Monthly Archives: May 2014

Let’s Go Out, Darling!

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I promise this is positively the last bonkers UKIP story of the year… Apparently I was wrong. UKIP do have another key plank to their manifesto, apart from ‘Aren’t foreigners ghastly?’ In their 2010 manifesto edition they felt it should be made compulsory for people to wear evening dress to the theatre. The Daily Telegraph’s […]

England Plays It By The Book

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The new booklist drawn up for the GCSE syllabus is under fire as never before. Journalists and writers across the country have expressed dismay that list of set texts for English GCSE has cut out international authors to concentrate on British books, and by doing so has ‘plumbed new depths of cultural incoherence’. The AQA, the […]

When An Adaptation Adds Something New

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I recently saw two theatrical adaptations of books that were also made into films. The first, ‘Let The Right One In’, added nothing at all to the original – if anything, it reduced the ambiguities to one simple reading. The other added immensely to its former incarnations. The latter was the Headlong production of ‘1984’, […]

Shopped No.2

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Watching everyone board a very late plane the other night, I noticed that about one in five people had untied laces, but they were too laden with luggage and kids to be able to do anything about it. While we’re waiting for Nike to develop self-lacing trainers like the ones in ‘Back To The Future […]

Great London Pubs No. 5

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The Commercial Tavern in the East End’s Commercial Street is typical of the type of corner pub that once existed everywhere in this area. It would have been filled with effing and blinding locals banging back dimple-pints, and to be fair there are still one or two who look in. The pub doesn’t do food. […]

London Corners – Clubland

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Are there still such things as clubbable men? Indeed there are. Despite the proliferation of reinvented private clubs that chuck out the chintz in favour of pounding beats, the traditional old clubs of London do still exist. Yesterday I gave a luncheon talk at the Authors’ Club, now happily returned to the National Liberal Club […]

Death By Snobbery: The Strange Story of JBP

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When I asked if my mother wanted something to read, she instantly requested JB Priestley. ‘The plays?’ I suggested. ‘No,’ she replied, ‘the novels.’ If John Boynton Priestley has undergone something of a rediscovery lately it’s because of his theatre work, but Priestley was known to the older generation for some 26 novels that contained […]

Shopped No.1

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The other day a friend asked what he should bring back from London for his girlfriend. When I think of London gifts – which frankly isn’t often – I see those horrible phone box/beefeater teddy bear shops selling tat to tourists, so here’s an occasional column for when I see something unique and possibly worth […]

Why Nigel Farage Is Not The Problem

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Nigel Farage’s anti-EU party has successfully built on its high scoring in local elections by doubling its seats in the European Parliament, but the far-right swing has built far more violently in other EU countries, especially in France and Greece. Here the grinning ninny who employs his German wife and who can’t articulate any policies […]

London Corners – The Phoenix Garden

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Where is this woodland glade where you may read a book in peace and calm away from the bustle of the city? Like so many other little parks in London it is hidden in plain sight, but this one really is in the heart of the West End. It’s not the only one, but the […]