Monthly Archives: January 2015

Mixing Art And Pleasure

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The Fun Part ‘In every job that must be done there is an element of fun…’ Thus spake Mary Poppins, and it can apply even in the most serious and thought-provoking stories. By ‘fun’, I mean that the reader/viewer/listener must be rewarded a little for the effort of paying attention. Every work of art is […]

London’s Curiosities Are Quietly Closing Down

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  What makes London indefinably special? I’d argue that rather than shopping or nightlife, it’s London’s ability to satisfy the quirkiest of special interests. However, that ability may be in decline, judging by what happened this week to an American friend of mine, Michele, who loves London’s specialist venues and decided to visit a few places […]

Stepping Back In Time 2

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If you’re of a certain age, you may associate certain roads in London with things that have long vanished from it. I can’t help thinking of printing presses whenever I’m in Tooley Street or photo libraries in Newman Street, and I still think of dropping trousers in Whitehall. The past is beguiling. We enjoy Sherlock […]

Re:View – ‘The Ruling Class’

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Peter Barnes’ troubling 1968 satire about madness and the inheritors of Albion is one of the most English modern plays I can think of, apart from Jez Butterworth’s ‘Jerusalem’, which is more concerned with rural magic. This is a play of big themes, tying the church, the state, class, money, sex and insanity into a […]

Mine’s A Double: Films About Doppelgangers

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I’ve always written characters in pairs – it’s an unintentional recurring theme throughout my books. My mother was a twin whose brother died at 4 years of age from diphtheria (a now virtually forgotten illness), I have a brother to whom I’m very close, and I tend to form strong attachments with opposites for very […]

Can Quantity Still Have Quality?

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Someone I hadn’t caught up with for a while said to me, ‘So, you’re still churning out those Bryant & May books are you?’ I pointed out that yes, mystery novels were one type of book I write, although there were many others. He said; ‘Then why do you bother with the crime stuff? They’re […]

The Music Masterpiece That Punishes Its Players

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I was introduced to Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ by a friend who goes to a lot of classical and modern music concerts. I had never heard of it. Composed in San Francisco in 1964, the score can be played by any ensemble whether trained or amateur, although the best versions are created by trained musicians […]

Designing Dreams

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The state of the British film industry has been a standing joke since the 1970s, despite a number of superbly realised movies spread rather thinly across the subsequent decades. We maintained a penchant for kitchen-sink dramas after John Osborne wrote ‘Look Back In Anger’ in the 1950s (at the time, a much needed astringent, now […]

Why It’s A Good Idea To Read Plays

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When I was at school we were made to read Jacobean plays cold from text; it was horrible and made no sense to my teenage ears. It took a long time to understand why text reading was a good thing, but once I understood I started doing it for fun, and I still do it […]

The Other Frankenstein

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Gustav Meyer’s photograph shows a fresh, innocent face above a tightly buttoned coat with the world’s smallest lapels; he looks about 23, which would have placed him in Prague and made the year 1889. Meyer was the bastard son of Baron Karl von Varnbüler und zu Hemmingen (try saying that while eating a chocolate biscuit), and […]