Monthly Archives: September 2018

Autumn’s coming. Kill Me Now.

Everyone else seems to love it, but I dread autumn. The first brown leaves send a chill down my spine. I’ve already had the season’s first cold (caught in the UK, of course) and now the nights are shortening, filling me with thoughts of the grave. This depression arises for several reasons; partly, it’s the […]

Southern Forgotten

When we trimmed down authors for ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’, two thirds were back-burnered because of information overload; there was a general feeling that we’d have turned off readers. I reluctantly removed Terry Southern even though he was such an interesting candidate. Few people now recall the name of Terry Southern, but he was […]

Wish I Was There: Why We Love Exotic Fiction

The first time I went to Greece, I was in my early twenties and working insane hours. We covered four islands a day via ferries and cargo planes, and everywhere we went the locals would come out of their houses and give us flowers or offer coffee. As most islands had no hotels we were […]

On Or Off The Beaten Track?

I’m here in Spain visiting monasteries and vineyards, and should probably not be standing on a rock protruding over a sheer drop when there’s work to be done. Priorat has not yet become a popular region to visit. Like Penedes, it’s home to some of the finest cellars in the world, has fabulous restaurants, walks […]

On A Dawn Journey Across London

As my next mystery novel is partly about nightwalking, that peculiar habit which evolved over centuries in London, I’ve been seizing opportunities to see the city at unusual times. The other morning I rose before dawn and headed for the airport. London to Barcelona covers just 32% of my daily steps, thanks to my habit […]

The Mystery Of My ‘Uncle’

My mother came from an age when there were still unspoken family secrets. It took me years to realise that her mother was not her natural mother but a relative who had raised her. That was when I heard about my purported uncle Jeffrey. There were two many surnames floating around on my mother’s side […]

Serious Music To Amuse

For some peculiar reason the British are very fond of being silly around classical music. This dates back to the artist and musician Gerard Hoffnung (I posted a little about him four years ago). In 1956 Hoffnung mounted the first of his Hoffnung Festivals in London, during which classical music was spoofed for comic effect, with […]

My Father (Part 2)

(Contd) My dreams of a university education evaporated when I saw that I would have to get a job and ease the family’s finances. I went knocking on the doors of advertising agencies, and was immediately offered a placement as a copywriter in a Regent Street company on the condition that I learned to type […]

My Father (Part 1)

A year or so ago I wrote a column for the Guardian about my father. It expanded on a piece I had written for my first memoir, and after it came out I received a lot of mail about the piece, so it clearly touched a nerve. I’ve not run it here before. The first […]

As Cassandra Was Saying…

Hardly anyone remembers his name now, but William Connor was once such a beloved figure and national treasure that he was knighted. He was a columnist for the Daily Mirror who wrote under a more familiar name: Cassandra. Known for concision and clarity, he wrote for the everyman. Famously his articles were cancelled during WWII, […]