Monthly Archives: May 2016

Invisible Ink 8: Lady Cynthia Asquith

  I often think that female authors from the past excel at cruel stories with emotional and possibly supernatural tints, using apparitions, fears and forebodings to indicate heightened states of unspoken emotional distress. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (now a staple on every English student’s comparative literature list), a wife possibly suffering from […]

Another Film That Didn’t Make My Top Ten List

It should have made the top ten. ‘The Producers’ is a touchstone film for me. I saw it when it came out at the cinema in a double bill with ‘Where’s Poppa?’ (or possibly ‘Kentucky Fried Movie’). The plot; terminally nervous accountant Gene Wilder attempts to do the books of sleazy theatrical agent Zero Mostel, […]

Taking The Lid Off LitFests

One of the peculiarities of appearing at literary festivals is that people always ask you if you’re having a great time, to which my pal Joanne Harris replied with just the right amount of testiness; ‘We’re working at the weekend.’ Usually for nothing more than the love of books and (hopefully, if they’ve been ordered) […]

Does London Have A Hidden Map?

My friend Jan sends me texts about sacred London, pointing out that London’s ceremonial sites, of which there are a great number, may have formed a vast geometric design covering over 400 square miles. It’s said that all Roman roads aligned to this pattern, but that they were already here anyway. The oldest example of a […]

Automatically London

Tucked down a side-street off High Holborn is a strange little museum – more of a shop, really, and not an especially cheap one, but who could begrudge a place filled with such lunatic joy? Some of you may remember the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, which had its arcade in Covent garden from 1984 to 1999, and […]

Will We Stay Or Will We Go?

According to the Daily Telegraph, the newspaper for all your urgent articles on arthritis, hedgehogs and Prince William (although they do have great arts coverage) the crossover age from Remain to Brexit is 43. This is the point when you go mad and turn from a cuddly liberal to a swivel-eyed loon who spends every […]

Invisible Ink 7: Charlotte Armstrong

She should have been regarded as the Mistress of Suspense, but instead her name is all but lost. Charlotte Armstrong was born in the iron-mining territory of Vulcan, Michigan, in 1905, and worked in the classified ads department of the New York Times before hitting her stride as a playwright and mystery writer. She adopted […]

Me & Joanne

Both Joanne Harris and I started in the rougher end of murder and mayhem. She began writing with ‘The Bad Seed’ and ‘Sleep, Pale Sister’, two darkly horrific novels. I began with books like ‘Roofworld’ and ‘Spanky’, mixes of dark satire, fantasy and horror. We have both tackled other genres, Joanne with ‘Runemarks’, me with […]

They’re Tough To Run But We Need These

Britain may once have been a nation of shopkeepers but it’s not anymore. In a world of corporate brandssuch places are a breath of fresh air; those weird small shops and privately owned places that make a neighbourhood special. London always had thousands, but can they still be found? I speak as someone who remembers […]

‘Victoria’ Puts Right What Hollywood Gets So Wrong

If there was ever a film that revealed the growing gap between an increasingly isolated, risk-averse and irrelevant Hollywood and the rest of the world, it’s ‘Victoria’. Sebastian Schipper’s real-time movie is a total triumph, but you wouldn’t think so to read some of the reviews. The plot is simplicity itself. A young Spanish girl […]