Monthly Archives: March 2015

Who Was Oscar Deutsch?

The simple answer is that he entertained our nation. Deutsch (1893-1941) created a cinema circuit to rival the big two, Gaumont and ABC, and his chain is still with us today. This inconsequential-looking little man was the son of a Jewish Hungarian scrap metal merchant, and brought about an extraordinary revolution in British style, a […]

Books? You Can’t Give ‘Em Away

To celebrate World Book Day or National Book Day or whatever the hell it’s called, I signed a big box of books and took to the streets with them to give them away to passing strangers. It turned out this was more difficult than I’d anticipated. People eyed me suspiciously and asked ‘What do I have […]

The Writer’s Diet

With apologies to my fellow scribes, I really don’t know many British writers who are fit. (I mean healthy, not fanciable.) We sit hunched over screens for a living. We consider time spent exercising to be time wasted. We’re trapped indoors for around six months of the year (at least). If we work at home, […]

‘Forensics’ @ The Wellcome Collection

I’ve yet to see a bad exhibition at the Wellcome Collection, and unlike most other shows in London (we now call them ‘shows’ I think, not temporary exhibitions) it’s free of charge. In this case the curators of ‘Forensics’, Lucy Shanahan and Shamita Sharmacharja, are to be congratulated. The gallery has been divided into a […]

The London Road That Never Existed

There are imaginary London addresses scattered throughout literature, but there’s also a real street in London that never actually existed, in the sense that one minute it wasn’t there, then it was, and then it was gone again. Any clues? It was called Broad Streete, and it appeared on January the 8th in 1683 in […]

Now We Are Twelve: The Secret History Of Bryant & May

When the first Bryant & May book was written as a stand-alone novel for the publishers Little, Brown it was turned down. To be fair to them, they had supported an author who seemed unable to settle into any style or genre, who threw all their attempts to pigeonhole or create a fanbase. They had […]

The Most Londony Film Ever

Considering that walking around certain parts of London in the rain is the single most depressing thing you can do in the world apart from visiting Dover, it scrubs up well in photographs and on film (although my heart sinks whenever Hollywood shows the city as being some kind of quirky village; check out ‘Night […]

Polari Speech – Part Two

This is the concluding part of my speech at the Southbank Centre last week. It has been shortened, but the most salient points are here. ‘In the opera ‘Hansel and Gretel’ there’s an orchestral scene that’s traditionally awkward to stage, when the children are lost in the woods and protected by angels. In a production […]

Polari Speech – Part One

I rarely write from a gay perspective because I don’t feel that my sexuality has any claim over what I write, so the idea of being a ‘gay writer’ has always felt less applicable than ‘a writer who happens to be gay’, just as an actor’s choice of roles isn’t dependent on his or her […]