Monthly Archives: November 2019

Ageism Is An Old Idea

My crime books deliberately use elderly leading characters, which leads to quite a lot of debate with readers. Somebody said to me recently, ‘We really look after older people here – there are care homes everywhere.’ I was horrified by her casual acceptance of the idea that the best thing to do with older people […]

The Return Of The Friday Song

It’s about time we reinstated this occasional end-of-the-week knees-up. When I think of all the truly weird films I’ve seen, Leo Carax’s ‘Holy Motors’ is one about which I remember almost nothing at all…except for the intermission. Dennis Lavant remains a truly committed actor (who probably should be committed). For me Carax’s best film remains […]

The Last Of The Fringe

When  your heroes start dying off, it feels like notice is being served. Jonathan Miller’s death leaves just one of the ‘Beyond the Fringe’ group remaining; Alan Bennett. All four had multiple talents, but non more so than Miller. A comedian, TV presenter, theatre and opera director, writer, broadcaster, lecturer and art historian, he seemed able […]

London Pub Names, 1867.

The Trades Directory for 1867 lists the top London trade as being publicans (I do this research so that you don’t have to). Perusing the directory (peruse it? I can barely lift it) I find a lengthy list of the mid-Victorian period’s most popular pub names. In number one place is The King’s Arms (87) […]

London Through Other Eyes

Last weekend I played host to two friends, one from Barcelona, one from Warsaw. They asked me if I would plan ‘a Londoners’ sort of weekend’ for them. It felt like a daunting prospect; I tend to make my plans subconsciously, drifting into alignment with others as the weekend unfolds. Like most central Londoners we […]

We Need To Talk About Evan Hansen

As wary as I am of seeing shows with proven track records and pots of money to keep them in theatres past their sell-by dates (step forward ‘The Book of Mormon’), I was intrigued by ‘Dear Evan Hansen’, which clearly connects to East Coast Gen Xers in much the same way that ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ […]

Another Bizarre London Ceremony

I wrote about the ceremony of the Knollys Rose – the granting of a single red rose in return for the loss of a garden centuries ago – in a recent Bryant & May novel (I can’t remember which one) only because I stumbled upon the site while walking through the city one day. Now […]

Writing Week 5: All Change

It’s only been a short while that we’ve been woke to questions of gender and already the complaints have started from certain male critics. The BBC’s new version of ‘War of the Worlds’ has a pregnant female lead living sinfully in Woking as the Martians arrive. And why not? Wells was always a bit thin […]

Writing Week 4: The Rulebreakers

  In uncertain times we demand more rules, not fewer The history of fiction, by which I mean all fiction – I’m not interested in separating ‘literature’ from ‘genre’ – follows the growth pattern of all the arts; rules are established, traditional forms are developed, rules are broken. But something odd happened in fiction that […]

Writing Week 3: The Discipline Of Writing

Most writers can’t work consistently enough to fulfil a publisher’s needs. If you’ve ever wondered why some writers can’t get published and others can’t work fast enough, read on. Readers often tell writers how lucky they are, as if they accidentally become JK Rowling one day. There’s a generally circulated idea that writers waft about […]