Monthly Archives: September 2019

The Men And Women From The Ministry

Further to a recent post about middle-aged men becoming obsessed with military books, I finally finished Giles Milton’s ‘Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’ with, it must be said, a tear in my eye. This is partly because I connected with the subject matter via my parents, but also because of the bravura storytelling that brought […]

Superblocks And Spaghetti Streets

London is a city that confounds the casual visitor because so many extreme opposites sit side by side. It’s partly the fault of geography; the roads still follow old riverbanks and hedgerows, and never adopted a grid pattern, although many were proposed. Sir Christopher Wren imagined a reconstructed capital full of wide boulevards and grand civic […]

Nerd Corner: Which Is The Best Writer’s Phone?

The story so far: Having had my stuff stolen I’ve been without my phone for two weeks and haven’t missed it as much as I thought I would. Without Google Maps you have to start asking strangers how to get around, and if you say you had your phone stolen they start to think you’re after […]

Late Night Rather Than Last Night

I could think of nothing more frightful than sitting through the Last Night of the Proms. It must have once been a charming event, a letting-off of steam after a long season of concerts. Now it’s a parody, all those stamping sea shanties, all that flag waving colonial nonsense – of course it’s an important […]

Off The Rails

Having just finished the new Bryant & May (except for what I call ‘the gloss’, which is a final  once-over to look at the language and make it a little more fluid and graceful) I was thinking about all the projects I have lined up, and wondering what was my favourite book to write. And […]

The Next Bryant & May Novel Is Finished

The sun was starting to set here in Barcelona – it will set almost an hour earlier by the end of this month, but for now it’s still 27C outside, even though some Spaniards have decided it’s autumn and are wearing black, maroon and grey puffa-jackets. I put the wine in the fridge (Spanish wines […]

Go Back! Go Back!

I try to post here on most days, but that’s only really possible when I’m in Barcelona because my working hours are consistently much longer. Light, it’s all about the light…shortly I return to London and try not to feel depressed about the months ahead. Sometimes I simply run out of ideas, because they’re all […]

Open To Interpretation

Parents are getting older. They’re waiting longer to have children and, it seems among my friends at least, are having trouble conceiving. Or as my doctor put it bluntly, ‘a geriatric pregnancy is one occurring after 35.’ I only mention this because I’d forgotten that when my mother started giving her oldest son advice she was […]

In A Bad Place

Having read the new Malcolm Gladwell book, ‘Talking To Strangers’, I found myself thinking about bad locations. He points out that crime statistics are affected by bad areas (obviously) but not areas as a whole – crime and anti-social behaviour can usually be pinpointed to a single block or length of street, and mistakes arise […]

Popular Prose And The Public

I have always been fascinated with the physical acts of reading books. It’s something we don’t much discuss. Critics often seem to regard ‘readability’ as a bad thing, something to sneer at, but what is wrong with wanting to communicate clearly? Popular non-fiction can become academic and abstruse, littered with notes and references. But Jason […]