Monthly Archives: January 2018

Sublime Moments: Films To Catch

When watching stories on film. I live for the moments when everything comes together in a sublime meld of imagery, language and sound. Watching God’s Own Country, one of the year’s best British films, it seemed at first to be another BFI-funded test of patience, especially as it began with a monosyllabic farmer putting his […]

‘Murder Your Darlings’

From Franz Kafka and Robert Louis Stevenson to Nabokov and Gogol, writers have always wanted to destroy their work. Often their instructions to burn everything after their deaths is ignored. Franz Kafka was famously dismissive of his own writing and wrote a letter to his friend Max Brod saying that he was leaving all his work […]

Why James Bond May Be Over

We currently live in a world of virtue signalling, safe spaces and trigger warnings, in which jargon in the new illiteracy. While I applaud the more practical elements, like the long-overdue attempts to redress the gender balance and the dumping of racism and sexism in the US creative industries, many people fail to understand that […]

The Sixties Return In March

They say if you can remember the sixties you weren’t there. I wasn’t. By which I mean I was at school, and being a tiresomely studious child I knew absolutely nothing about what was going on in certain select (ie wealthy) parts of London. The heady smell of patchouli and dope, the sounds of the […]

London Buildings, Good & Bad (Part 2)

So yesterday, a very potted history of how the developers arrived. Ultimately, the greedy inherited the earth. Step forward Julie and Magnus Davey, property developers and, by various press accounts I read, Grade A scumbags who have exploited government schemes and asylum seekers even as they knock down listed buildings. It would be nice to […]

London Buildings, Good & Bad (Part 1)

Cities that don’t get bombed or burned down always look more cogently constructed. Paris and New York are of a piece, the former locked into the 1900s, the latter the 1920s. New York has gone from futuristic to homely, and is all the better for it. Gdansk was bombed flat and rebuilt exactly as it […]

The Working Mother Writers

While I was selecting  the authors who have now vanished from family bookshelves, I couldn’t help noticing how many women writers gave up because the demands of looking after a parent or children prevented them from putting their thoughts on paper. For many, writing was one of the few ‘respectable’ jobs for a young woman, […]

How Technology Is Killing Fiction

I love modern technology. I’m an early adopter so connected that it requires a masters’ degree in electronics to run my life and even Apple geniuses give a low whistle when I have to explain my set-up. But there’s no question that it’s damaging fiction. That’s the thesis for today. First and most obviously, it’s […]

When Characters Annoy

As I embark upon the 17th Bryant & May adventure, I have to ask myself; am I still making the characters interesting? I ask because on the US Amazon website, a reader described Arthur Bryant as annoying. He is of course, but in the UK we treasure annoying characters, from Harry Worth, Charlie Drake and […]

When Authors Hide Secrets Part 2

Many authors were only known by what they wrote and a postage-stamp sized photo on a dust jacket. In that sense, at least, they had more freedom than most, for it was all the public knew about them. Now that social media has provided us with too much information, we can find out pretty much […]