Monthly Archives: October 2014

Early Christmas Gifts For Yourself

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The nature of present-giving at Christmas is changing. My friends are moving out of London. Quite a few of us now go away for the extended break. The purchase and delivery of gifts is now almost an ordeal. My brother has a connection to a farm but doesn’t live nearby, and one Christmas found our […]

Central London’s Last Quiet Neighbourhood

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  After my Halloween reading at the National Liberal Club, we took a stroll in the only remaining  part of Central London that’s truly under-visited. Mist had rolled in from the river and it was drizzling softly, creating aureoles of light around the street lamps. There were no cars and hardly any people, and it […]

Why Is London So Scruffy?

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When the spectacular Victorian Gothic edifice of the St Pancras Grand Hotel decided to open a bar called the Gilbert Scott, its restored interior exceeded all expectations. From the vast painted ceiling hang immense golden bells, and the space is outrageously opulent, although it lacks the personality of the great hotel bars and is consequently […]

Writer Knocks Out Another Thriller: Forgets To Tell Readers

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  Ah. Yes. Sorry about that. ‘The Elimination Bureau’ was written in a week for the lovely people at Specsavers who support crime writing, in this case by commissioning us to work for free. But I don’t really mind once in a while, and it turned out rather well. This involves a female DCI in […]

England’s Asylums

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When I was a child we went to visit a friend of my mother’s in Holloway Sanatorium, near Virginia Water in Surrey. I remember long, wide airy rooms overlooking rolling grasslands and a few patients dotted about, very docile and silent. What I don’t think I saw was its astonishingly colourful interior (as shown on […]

‘Bryant & May and the Burning Man’ Gets An Early Launch

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Bryant & May 12; The Burning Man, or Bryant & May and the Burning Man, if you prefer – it makes no odds – has been an utter delight for me to write, and in many ways feels like the most rounded volume yet, even though the ending may prove a tad upsetting for some. […]

Blue Sky Thinking

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North-East England isn’t a very sunny place. Perhaps that’s what inspired the CPI, a product development organisation, to come up with this genius idea. The CPI is one of seven bodies under the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, an umbrella group which receives government funding to drive growth in manufacturing. The aviation industry has a problem. How […]

Is Holborn Becoming The New Shoreditch?

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My mother and father both worked in High Holborn, the odd no-man’s-land between New Oxford Street and Gray’s Inn Road (roughly speaking; the boundaries were changed in 1994). It was filled with sturdy, wealthy insurance offices, law firms, accountancy, marine and travel companies, and the head offices of the Empire’s manufacturing outlets. It’s a pretty […]

Whatever Happened To Camp?

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The 1960s were by all accounts a schizophrenic time – on the one hand London was blooming with creative originality and artistic talent, while the rest of the country was stuck in a postwar past that had hardly shifted since the days of Clement Atlee. While Northern comics continued to tell racist jokes, a very […]

Ghost Stories In A Grand Setting

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Next Wednesday I’ll be reading something to give you the creeps – surprisingly not my bank statement after my recent Japan jaunt but a new ghost story for Halloween (let’s drop that apostrophe for once and for all, shall me?). The National Liberal Club is in Westminster, 5 mins from Trafalgar Square, and is one […]