Monthly Archives: February 2018

Melodrama: The Unloved Genre

There are only a few categories of film that can be guaranteed to draw fire from critics. Satires, westerns, musicals – and melodramas. This last one has long been out of favour. Historically, a melodrama was a serious play interspersed with  music accompanying the action. Now it means a sensational dramatic piece with exaggerated characters and exciting events […]

In Praise Of Middle England

The above photograph from Winchester sums it up. It’s leafy and empty, there’s a statue of King Alfred and a branch of Fired Earth, the upmarket glazed tile shop, and somewhere out of sight a round table dedicated to a mythical king. Welcome to Middle England. It’s  not a place like the Midlands or even […]

Bryant & May Return In A Month

  ARTHUR BRYANT: ‘These hippies are selfish and irresponsible. I’ll tell you what made our nation the bastion of patrician morality it is today; the ability to be profoundly miserable. It’s one of our greatest strengths, to be ranked beside shutting the boozers at ten thirty and regarding the waterproof mackintosh as an acceptable item […]

London’s Cinema Of Sin Is Coming Back

A million people walked (or often fell) through the doors of London’s Scala cinema between June 1978-June 1993. Most of them staggered out. Now my old friend Jane Giles, who was the life and soul of the 24 hour party that was London’s Scala Cinema, has written a book on this scurrilous subject, which promises […]

The Sunday Song!

The new-look blog is taking it out of me. It’s a lot of work keeping it fresh every damn day. Sunday is therefore the new Friday today, and you’re getting a song, but it’s a good one. Some years back two plays about London’s club scene played off against each other. One was ‘Taboo’ with […]

Aspects Of London: The Writers’ Retreat

‘Literary London’ has become a phrase in itself. Here is a city that has nurtured the world’s greatest writers for centuries, but while hopeful artists go to Paris to paint (the light is several degrees brighter than that of London’s) you never hear of writers going to London to write, because this occupation is associated […]

A Few Good Scares

Having reviewed books on and off for twenty years I’ve inevitably built up a spectacular stack of them, mostly good – I don’t see a point of reviewing books you disliked because press space is valuable. The one exception I was forced to make was for a surprisingly weak Stephen King tome about farting aliens, […]

Nymphs Begone!

One of my favourite art galleries is the Manchester Art Gallery, with its astonishing collection of Pre-Raphaelites and figurative paintings displayed at ideal heights for close study. It has always amazed me that you could walk in there on a Saturday morning and have the place virtually to yourself while everyone else is creeping around […]