Monthly Archives: August 2016

So You’re Going To Write A Book…

No wonder they describe plays as having ‘a run’; actors often compare performing eight shows a week to training for a marathon; they exercise, diet, stop socialising and commit themselves to continual practice. Writers do it as well. A book you care about writing consumes you. It’s the job you bring home from work and […]

Trousers Down For The Last Time

Husky-voiced Brian Rix has died at 95. The master of farce was one of Britain’s most successful actor-managers, For more than three decades his farces, acted out by some of the great names in British comedy, played to packed theatres and attracted millions of TV viewers. The birth of a daughter with Down’s syndrome saw him […]

Whimsy: The Marmite Film Genre

There’s a certain type of Marmite movie I sneakingly love. It would have been the kind of movie I hated at 18, when I just wanted to watch cars explode and heads get cut off. It’s the whimsical movie, best exemplified by ‘Le Fabuleux Destin D’Amelie Poulin’, or as it was called in the US, […]

A Message To Millennials

According to a series of major US surveys, teens are increasingly swearing off alcohol, cigarettes, dope and prescription painkillers. Millennials are taking their cues from their Baby Boomer folks, those born between 1946 and 1964 who are veterans of the sexual and psychedelic revolutions of the 1960s and 70s. Apparently this is to do with the new […]

Why Does Wealth Work Against Creativity?

Latvia is not a rich country. When the city of Riga needed to move its books from the old library to the new one, on the other side of its central river, the Daugava, it came up with a novel idea. The city’s residents formed a human chain over the bridge from one library to […]

How To Be A Student Again

We’ve all embarked on renovations that take a tad longer than we expected, right? This year we embarked on our flat’s first refurb in 15 years. The only snag – although we moved out at the end of April, it will take until Christmas, or very nearly, to complete, and I’d packed what I thought I […]

You Can’t Say ‘Clever’ Anymore. It’s Elitist.

A short while ago I expressed admiration for someone I thought was clever, and a girlfriend of mine told me off for being ‘elitist’. Here’s my thinking on that. The UK’s low-rent Channel 4, which is government subsidised (outrageously, it still pays no tax) is currently running a dating show in which people decide who […]

A Little Summer Reading

It’s a beautiful sunny day in August, just before London turns overbaked and blowsy in the protracted death of summer. I’ve been wandering in Regent’s Park, and am now sitting in a chest-high lavender field in King’s Cross, London, where armchairs have thoughtfully been provided for passers-by. I’m reading another book by Jim Shepard. I […]

An Adventure Into The Fantastic

  It goes without saying that writing fantasy is very different to writing a crime novel. But I didn’t realise just how different it was until I attempted one. It not only doesn’t read like any other kind of literature; it doesn’t write like one either. My favourites in this genre would include ‘Gormenghast’, ‘The […]

The Legend of Jenny Green-Teeth

Duckweed is one of Britain’s most common small water plants. It forms a smooth green mat that covers bodies of still water. It has a simple body known as a thallus, which floats on the surface of the water, and a single root which hangs down. You find duckweed all over London’s canals in August, which might […]