Monthly Archives: December 2017

End Of Year Q&A

It feels like I did a million Q&As this year, but I realised I hadn’t done one for you. So today you’re the guest editor. You can ask me anything you ever wanted to ask about writers and writing, or any aspect of the arts, and I’ll try to give you some concise answers. Imagine […]

Advice From A Snapper

This post was inspired by a very good BBC article about David Hurn, a dyslexic Welsh schoolboy who through luck and good judgement became one of the world’s few elite Magnum photographers, taking some of the 20th century’s most iconic photographs. In the article Hurn, now 83, asks himself how he managed to reach this […]

Into The Future: What’s Coming Up

At this time of the year newspapers are full of predictions; Nitrate-free bacon is coming! And highways of driverless cars! And miraculous medical advances! Sadly, most of them not in my lifetime but maybe in yours. When technology geared up for the next great leap forward none of us realised that its two biggest manifestations, […]

Best Political Films

The best political films struggle to find box office traction because, as one audience member in a Camden cinema told me, ‘I don’t come here to be taught stuff.’ He went on to explain that he had a hard job and movies were his way of checking his brain out, in which case I’d recommend […]

The Best & Worst Of 2017

For everyone it was an astonishing year in politics; bizarre, divisive and absurd by turns, Trump and Brexit occupying far too much of our energy and attention. Most have come to the realisation that leaving Europe has already damaged our finances and our international standing. Will Brexit have an upside? Perhaps, if it makes us […]

Christmas In London: A Permanent Assurance

It is the writer’s curse to lose topicality; we age, the world changes fast and London becomes unrecognisable. New York is, for good and bad, exactly the same old New York I visited on my twenties, even as New Yorkers complain about chain stores and rents. Finite and boundaried, it has barely changed in the […]

London In A New Light

The play ‘The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon contained a delightful Easter egg. After the curtain came down and the audience had risen and was putting on coats, the lead actor came back on stage and delivered the speech he could not perform in the play due to his […]

FilmTalk 1: Water Cooler Moments

You Know, For Kids It’s infantamalisation, says a friend. Remember when films were for grupps? We’re all teenagers now. No, I say, it’s not as simple as that, it’s about the development of macro-demographics. What are we arguing over? Why, the new Star Wars movie, of course. The film is heading toward its first global […]

The Christmas Movie List

‘It’s A Wonderful Life’? Too schmaltzy. ‘Elf’? Even the stills make me feel physically ill. ‘The Grinch’? That isn’t a movie, it’s waterboarding. Okay, maybe I’m not a Christmas person. Christmas is a gradual declension of spirit, from when you were six and unable to sleep for excitement, to when you’re fifty and eating nuggets […]

The Third Taboo: Self-Censorship

This is one for which writers themselves (me included) are culpable. Writers have often been outsiders, and have had a tendency to write without boundaries. The great censorship battles of the past are well documented, from ‘The Communist Manifesto’ and ‘Main Kampf’ to ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (oh, the irony). ¬†Naturally many banned books have sexual content, […]