Monthly Archives: April 2015

The Disastrous Life Of Jeremy Thorpe

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Hardly any of my friends remember what happened to Jeremy Thorpe, one of those peculiarly English stories filled with awful details – so I decided to read up on it. I first made the mistake of reading Auberon Waugh’s ‘The Last Word: An Eye Witness Account of the Thorpe Trial’, but Waugh was never a […]

Publicising Your Work

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When you’ve sold a book, your publishing house will traditionally appoint a PR for you. Sometimes they’re terrific, sometimes they’re overworked looking after a bigger author and you don’t see them. When I first started you used to have a meeting to discuss your publicity campaign. Looking back, this seems like a fantastical thing to […]

The Weird Behaviour Of Book Lovers

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Intestinal Parasites Volume Two – British Boundary Lines; 1066-1700 – A Guide To The Cumberland Pencil Museum – Greek Rural Postmen And Their Cancellation Numbers – The Pictorial Dictionary Of Barbed Wire These are some of the volumes to be found in Arthur Bryant’s library; I mention a few titles in every book, and most of them are based […]

Severing The Links With London’s Past

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London grows, and in doing so it sheds the past. The fabric of much that made the city special to Londoners is unravelling. Here’s another small example. The city’s drag & cabaret pubs can trace their origins back to the old music halls. They hide in plain sight in high streets around the city – […]

The Mother Of All Stage Mothers

Gypsy Rose Lee

  In 1957 a woman wrote a memoir biting the hand that fed her. She was Rose Louise Hovick, born in Seattle, and her thrice-married mother Rose changed Louise and her sister June’s birth certificates to avoid child labour laws before dragging them off around the country with an army of virtually kidnapped children to […]

The Theme Tune To ‘Bryant & May: The Series’

B&M on Waterloo Bridge

No, there’s not a series yet – although the option has been picked up by a TV production company – but in the meantime a very nice chap called Des Burkinshaw has written the theme tune for a Bryant & May TV series. I was just in the middle of writing a piece about theme […]

A Puzzle From Bryant & May

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Sometimes I hide things in books (I don’t mean as my mother did, once using a haddock bone as a bookmark). I do this largely for my own amusement (it turns out), and in ‘The Burning Man’ I did something I’ve never done before – I added an homage. I thought it was pretty obvious, […]

The London Engine

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I don’t sleep late in London – I’m rarely still in bed after 5:30am, but sometimes I seem to hear it starting up like a distant car engine. King’s Cross is surprisingly quiet. In the summer all you really hear first thing in the morning is the sound of the river birds below. But then […]

Making Money From The Arts

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  In today’s Guardian Suzanne Moore points out that the role of an arts college has been quietly changing behind our backs. 80 students have been occupying Central Saint Martin’s, which is planning to ditch 580 foundation course places. These are the one-year courses which are all that now remain of the free art school […]

When Big Architects Get Big Ideas

Wren

I’ve always disliked Richard Rogers (not the composer, the architect). Although I know the purpose is for their interiors to be sightline-free, I still think Paris’s garish Pompidou Centre is an eyesore, and I hate London’s gasworks-like Lloyds building. Both have exteriors that look like Ferraris made for the Middle Eastern market have been carelessly […]