Monthly Archives: June 2017

Smaller Subjects, Bigger Ideas

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‘You can get away with anything if you keep a straight face.’ – Galton & Simpson Serious writers win the big awards. America has a history of excellence in the Big Fiction stakes, consistently producing intelligent, analytical, clear-eyed novels that look at the bigger picture, exploring the themes of the times. These books are often […]

The Man Who Saved Britain

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I’m currently on a sailing boat with friends from Washington and London, and somehow one evening we still ended up talking about James Bond. What is it with Bond? It is hard to overestimate the effect 007 had on post-war readers and audiences. Here was the first English hero who didn’t own a sensible jumper; […]

No Art Without Craft

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I’m still asked on a regular basis if I have advice for writers. Yes, and I think the advice is changing a little. If you believe a poll that ran in the Independent and the Guardian this week, British productivity is the lowest in Europe. We’re all working from home now, having decided that being […]

No Breath Left

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While we’re talking about the amount of work that goes into a book, even a short small-press book that will earn you back no more than a hundred pounds or so, here’s a page of alternate titles I came up with for the novel ‘Breathe’. It’s one of ten documents I found pertaining to alternate […]

Gender Fluidity: Not A Trend But A Cycle

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There’s an old joke that goes like this; Parents are having guests for dinner, including the local vicar, but their son won’t go to sleep. Their ecclesiastical guest offers to help and goes up to see the boy. When he comes down, all noise has ceased. ‘That’s marvellous,’ say the parents. ‘Whatever did you do […]

The Man & The Boat

A Night to Remember (10)

As the publication of ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ gets nearer (it’s still not until October), I’m reminded that I had to leave out of it as much as I put in. Here’s one little story that I was forced to set aside, although if the book is a success perhaps it will enter a […]

Sex & Scandal Beside The Thames

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How much of a gap existed between British cinema and Hollywood? Try this simple test. Ask yourself what comes to mind when you think of the word ‘pilot’. In the context of American film, you may get Star Wars movies or Tom Cruise fetishistically suited and booted in Top Gun. In the British equivalent, you […]

We’re Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly…

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No, not central London, where it’s currently hotter than Istanbul, but on our bi-annual week-long sailing trip around the Turkish coast. If previous trips are anything to go by, wi-fi will be spotty but I’ll post whenever I can. To set the mood, here’s there opening of ‘Bryant & May Ahoy!’ from ‘London’s Glory’, the […]

London’s Best Joke

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That joke, in the words of the immortal Ian Nairn, chronicler of London buildings good and bad, is architectural, and is in the East End. Once there were large department stores built all over the capital in imitation of Selfridges, Debenham & Freebody, Bourne & Hollingsworth and the like in Oxford Street. Unfortunately, few of […]

Rediscovering Super-Cannes

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After watching ‘High Rise’ again recently and enjoying it much more than I did the first time, I was drawn back to the Ballard bookshelf, and from his later writing picked ‘Super-Cannes’ for a reappraisal. Here’s what I found. There is a peculiar Englishness that manifests itself in exploration of the exotic, and JG Ballard […]