Monthly Archives: October 2019

It’s Publication Day! (Again)

ARTHUR BRYANT: ‘I once considered having a tattoo on my right bicep but I couldn’t make up my mind between Sir Robert Peel or Diana Dors.’ There are two required traits for any career writer, originality and consistency (and patience. THREE things, originality, consistency, patience and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope  – FOUR […]

Have Horror Films Turned Into A Different Genre?

Something quite extraordinary has happened to the humble horror film. After a century of vampires, werewolves, serial killers and zombies it seems to have finally grown up. Horror had always been planted with the seeds of its own destruction. It felt like a cultural dead end, any nascent intelligence trampled flat by the need to […]

Rotten To The Core

Peter Barnes is a writer who’s still misunderstood by critics seeking easy tags. His work was elaborately constructed, intellectually rigorous and controversial, his language exact and demanding. But it must also have been a bugger to memorize. Barnes was born in Bow in 1931, but his parents soon moved to a geriatric coastal town to […]

The Death And Life Of A London Institution

In the 1960s new British writing flourished, especially in the theatre. Rising labour costs eventually forced up seat prices, which meant that theatre chains now need certain houses to stage sure-fire hits that will pay for new plays. As a consequence, great theatrical authors are now more in danger of being lost than most novelists. Plays […]

Thinking About Film 2: Unreal & Over-Familiar

Stars make love fully dressed and shrug off bullets as if they were mosquito bites One of the problems with present-day entertainment is that Hollywood long ago won a determined and heavily funded cultural war. American lifestyles dominate global TV and film to the point where we hardly see anything else. I’ve watched too many […]

Thinking About Film 1: Too Much Sugar

A maid leans out of an upstairs window, calling to the lady of the house, who is in the garden clipping roses. MAID: Oh Ma’am! I’ve swallowed a safety pin! LADY OF THE HOUSE: Oh so that’s where all my safety pins go. A Victorian cartoon illustrating very British humour. We don’t do sentiment but […]

Adventure With A Brain

Nobody seems to remember this most unusual author anymore. Van Greenaway was a lawyer-turned-novelist who wrote topical, political, satirical thrillers. At his best he combined popular fiction with a rare passion and erudition. This kind of thought-provoking action novel was a genre all its own that now appears to have vanished entirely. Van Greenaway started […]

A Ten-Minute Argument With PD James

  Phyllis Dorothy James was, everyone will tell you, the grande-dame of crime writing, and once issued her top ten tips for writing novels. It’s heresy to contravene the rules, but what worked for PD James was clearly not what works for every aspiring or professional author. Let’s have a look at them and see […]

Tales Of The Cities

England has just come second (after Bhutan!) as the world’s best place to visit as voted by Lonely Planet, and their reasoning is strong. I’ve been feeling for a while that it’s time for me to explore the UK a bit more, not just on PAs. I gave up my car years ago, so I’ll […]

London In Autumn: Now The Fun Begins

Autumn in the countryside means the arrival of mud, the less enjoyable vegetables (turnips, anyone?) and the countryside’s only advantage, scenery, being obscured by freezing rain. Mercifully for Londoners it’s the start of the Season – sport, theatre, music, literature, all the arts burst into bloom from the Tate to the V&A, the West End […]