Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Elle Word

No Spoilers In a week where a judge who asked a woman in a rape trial why she couldn’t just keep her knees together has resigned from the Federal Court of Canada, and in a time when America has a president who routinely degrades women for fun, it seems that ‘Elle’ could not be more […]

The Return Of The Political Dispatch

While I was at school I became obsessed with Watergate. I bought every book on the subject and tried to understand how the President of the United States could fall to the level of a common criminal, using the language and behaviour of a criminal. By the time I got around to G Gordon Liddy […]

Splashing Out In London

It’s easy to forget that England is a temperate zone, and so London, at its centre, gets no real extremes of weather. You can get sunburnt in Devon and see snow in Scotland but most of us are within a steady range of temperature. None of which explains our passion for open-air swimming. London has […]

Seeing London Through Someone Else’s Eyes

I have European guests staying with me at the moment, and each day they set off across the city to experience it before returning and describing what they saw. Of course it’s spring so they’re getting four seasons in one day, which is driving them mad, but it’s interesting to note what else they love […]

Fighting The Curse Of Sentiment

I’ve always believed in maintaining a healthy level of cynicism, but worry that sentiment may creep into my books with age. With a couple of exceptions I’ve managed to keep it low in the Bryant & May novels (and am actually raising my cynicism level in the next one) but sentiment has been the ruin […]

What I’ve Been Reading

Usually I’d post this on GoodReads but I find their interface a bit messy and frustrating, so I’m running it here this week. First off, I loved ‘Larchfield’ by Polly Clark, about a mother-to-be in a remote past of Scotland, fighting with the neighbours, trying to stay sane and write poetry, and finding a surprising […]

What’s The First Book You See In A Bookshop?

I grew up surrounded by strange experimental books from the likes of Brigid Brophy and BS Johnson. These were my touchstones, not Austen and Brontë. Being able to read great literature as well as other types of books doesn’t mean you have to prefer it. As more books than ever before are published, it’s interesting to […]

A Warning Against Originality

Somebody asked me the other day if ‘Plastic’ was ever published. I explained that it was a few years ago and is now an e-book too, so this piece is about the effort that went into the attempt to create a short, unclassifiable novel. I had grown up in the sixties surrounded by strange experimental […]

Living In ‘The London Bubble’ Means…

*uses West Country accent* ‘So what’s this ‘London Bubble’ we’ve been reading so much about then?’ It’s a state of mind that clouds us in the capital and stops us from thinking properly. It’s the thing we enter when we open the Evening Standard property pages, look at an article praising a stack of minuscule […]

The Leekfrith Torcs

A pair of detectorists gave up their hobby after repeatedly returning empty-handed, then, two decades after they had tried to find treasure in a field in Staffordshire, they came across  four Iron Age gold torcs; three collars and a bracelet-sized piece, including two made of twisted gold wire, two with trumpet shaped finials and one with […]