Monthly Archives: December 2018

You Think This Was The First Bad Year?

2018? Pah, that was nothing. 1974 was the year that really sucked. In 1974 the top US songs were The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand and Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks. In the UK it was the time of the Bay City Rollers and Slade. In the bigger picture we had Nixon and Watergate, the fallout […]

My 10 Best Pieces Of Writing Advice For 2019

Every year teaches me something new about the writing trade. I feel guilty that I have few discernible skills other than being a writer and being able to draw a bit (I’ve tried learning everything from windsurfing to piano and failed) but here at least I can offer a few words of advice to writers […]

Don’t Tell Them Everything

Good books have an inner life; you can’t see all the way in. The pages become windows that throw light onto landscapes and into rooms, but keep some secrets hidden from view. Perhaps they reveal more at second glance – perhaps they leave the reader to deduce more. The reader certainly doesn’t need to know […]

Looking Back At 2018: Part 2

To answer a reader’s question, this blog is different to usual writers’ blogs because I planned it to resemble a mash-up between John Julius Norwich’s ‘Miscellany’ books, which he assembled from snippets of interest, and ‘Picture Book’, the old children’s TV show, the idea being that you’d never know what you were going to get. Here […]

Looking Back At 2018: Part 1

Glancing back over the past year, I’m amazed how many subjects we’ve dipped into, and the range of our conversations. Here are a few quotes from the blog in the first half of the year. And this is without starting on readers’ comments! January From ‘Sublime Moments’: ‘When watching stories on film. I live for […]

Creating In Dark And Light

Most of ‘A Christmas Carol’ takes place in semi-darkness or within candlelit rooms, and despite all attempts to open it out it still feels like a chamber piece. I’ve always felt that what it has, far more than seasonal redemption, is an atmosphere of death. Light is linked to mood. Between November and the end […]

Truly Scrooged

As an antidote to all those ghastly jingle-bell-ringing melodies we get at this time of the year, let’s have something a little more honest that suddenly feels apposite, given the recent situation at Gatwick Airport. I’m heading there shortly and will be descending from one chaos – planes under drone attack – to another, Barcelona […]

The Cryptic Christmas Crossword Answers (With Explanations)

    Across 1 Strange Tide 4 Seventy Seven Clocks 5 Off the Rails 7 The Memory of Blood 10 The Invisible Code 12 Ten Second Staircase 13 The Lonely Hour 14 Wild Chamber 15 Londons Glory Down 2 The Victoria Vanishes 3 White Corridor 5 On the Loose 6 The Bleeding Heart 8 The […]

The Bryant & May Cryptic Christmas Crossword

A word from Snowy and me: Time can hang heavy between forcing that last sprout down your neck and the start of the big film. Here is a little diversion to tickle up those remaining brain-cells not completely drowned in gravy. Those who don’t usually feel they can tackle a cryptic crossword should have no […]

The Good, The Bad & The Strange

At this time of the year, with dark days and long nights, I try to catch up with as many films as possible, and thought I’d pass on my personal favourites, ie. they won’t match anything Peter Bradshaw at the Guardian likes. This year there were a number of worthy, serious films about weighty issues […]