I often write about ideas that occur because I’m thinking about current events, but I don’t follow up with what happened next. Here’s a quick round-up of what DID happen next after certain recent articles..
1. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I was still at work on a historical epic called ‘The Foot on the Crown’. I finished the draft and set it aside to rest, and chatted with Jake Arnott, whose own ‘The Fatal Tree’ was a historical reimagining of real events. He made me decide whether the book should be strictly historical or a fantasised version of English history. I settled on making it a story you might expect to see depicted in an embroidered tapestry. There are enough history academics writing true-life versions. I’ll be going for a final draft this winter. The next problem I have to solve is whether to touch upon religion, considering all social life back then revolved around it.
2. I wrote a piece called ‘On a Dawn Journey across London’ which made me think afresh about the city vistas which have always been in my head. My affinity for city life is why I don’t apply myself to descriptions of rural landscapes – they’re alien to me. The piece made me plan to use London better this winter, partly as a survival mechanism for getting through the long dark months ahead, partly because I need to see more than just tourist views of central London. I’m drawing a plan for the first of several sojourns into less usual territories. Know your own back yard first.
3. I saw the gender-revised play ‘Company’ in preview and mentioned I loved it. It opened to universal rave reviews, and will now be impossible to get into. The star who put the ‘Broad’ in ‘Broadway’, Patti Lupone, is only in it for a few scenes but makes them count. Lupone said, on performing in ‘Les Miserables’: ‘The perfect part. 20 minutes on stage, sing a great song, die. 2 hours off stage, come back as a ghost, taxi.’
4. I was looking for a biography by my purported uncle, a film director and writer called Jeffrey Flowers Dell, and saw some of his films, which were charmingly odd and oddly charming. Reader Roger very kindly offered me his copy of ‘Nobody Ordered Wolves’, Dell’s book about working for Alexander Korda, which seems to have been mysteriously expunged from history. Roger, DM me on Twitter and I’ll send you my address!
5. Re: the ‘Books left in hotels’ piece – I was seated next to a couple on a flight yesterday who were reading Jo Nesbo and Jojo Moyes respectively – adventure and romance. The husband described other favourite authors, all from the ‘left in hotels’ category. This, I suspect, is the norm, and su books are treated as disposable commodities. I find all books divide into ‘chuckers’ and ‘keepers’. I also worry that this places me on an outer limb of the mainstream, here only the weird ones live. I described what I wrote and my companion said, ‘Well, you’re definitely not mainstream’. I wanted to ask him to leave one of mine in a hotel.
6. In ‘Madness from Nowhere’ I pointed out that the TV drama ‘Killing Eve’ has everything a producer wants his audience to see; mayhem, action, great costumes and sexy women with guns, plus delightful non-sequiturs and game-changing twists. Now along come a new long-form version of Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ which, along with drug-therapy trial drama ‘Maniac’, are helping to establish something between the multiple-episode series and the one-off – the eight-part drama. So, a full circle, then. Didn’t the BBC make six-part dramas for decades?
BTW, that thing at the top is my 1920s reporter’s typewriter; it slides inside a leather bag, and at the touch of a button…