Monthly Archives: May 2017

From Bristol With Love

I’m at Bristol Crimefest, talking with authors and publishers about books and what’s ahead. Bits of Bristol like the Christmas Steps are charming, although the city seems to have endless building works. The Crimefest writers and guests are erudite and great fun to hang out with, and there are some terrific US writers I hadn’t discovered […]

London On The Page

I’m in Bristol at Crimefest, where I keep being asked, ‘How do you do your research?’  As I’ve explained before, much of it is from visiting places and walking around talking to shop owners, museum curators and the like, but a lot of it is also from my large collection of London books, many of […]

The Curse Of The Bucket List

Above, some visitors to Venice got the city and the lido confused, and presumably thought the city was a beach. Meanwhile, residents of the Orkney Islands, which has a population of around 20,000, will be joined by more than 120,000 visitors this summer. The influx is putting attractions such as Skara Brae, Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic […]

My Mind’s A Blank

A friend praises my ‘phenomenal’ memory’ this week, but I have to disagree. Why? The news that this year’s BAFTA TV awards went not to any cutting edge shows or new format channels but to ‘Panorama’, ‘Emmerdale’, Ant & Dec and Steve Coogan not only confirms what deeply conservative times we’re living through, but also […]

Six Secret Places In London

The Camden Town plant nursery is where many Londoners go for their plants around about now. But most of them don’t notice that it has a hidden vegetarian cafe above it, right at the back – and they’re very nice people. 2. Foyles is arguably the best bookshop in the world – but did you […]

A Curmudgeon In Paris

When you think of Paris you think of Danton, Marat and Robespierre, Victor Hugo and Japanese wedding photo-opportunities. Sadly now you also think of terrorist atrocities and desperate homeless migrant families. To hear a police siren is to become acutely aware of where you are, and there are few sights more heartbreaking than entire families living […]

The Worst Place I Have Ever Been

A UK tourism bus side for Las Vegas reads; ‘You know why you come here.’ To which a million answers spring to mind; ‘Because it’s the last place my parole officer will ever think of looking for me.’ ‘Because I’m a morbidly obese gambling addict.’ ‘Because it’s the Pikey Monte Carlo.’ ‘Because I sometimes black […]

Tunnelling Toward The Weekend

Well, we’re not in the Sacre Coeur exactly but I’m writing a couple of speeches on the Eurostar to Paris, then we’re dining with family at L’Ami Jean – back Sunday!

Lost In My Lifetime

I spent far too much time in the building above, a sumptuous art deco palace which was the Odeon Woolwich. It used to face another similarly grand cinema with a square in the centre, and could have become the Leicester Square of South London. It was certainly the only reason for visiting Woolwich, and developers […]

The Books That Defined The ‘Lifestyle Choice’ Era

In 1977, Cyra McFadden’s novel ‘The Serial’ satirized the self-obsessed new-age lifestyles of affluent residents in Marin County, just North of San Francisco, with their organic vegetable gardens, tantric sex sessions and bicycle races to work. ‘I thought I was discovering myself,’ says one character, ‘but it turns out I was having a nervous breakdown.’ […]