Monthly Archives: December 2019

Modern Murder Mysteries Pt 2: The Butler Didn’t Do It

Yes, that’s Bryant & May in Lego, sent by superfan David Bond. Apart from anything else, the lighting is perfect. He tells me he’s working on another one. This sort of thing doesn’t usually happen in crime novels. ‘You can say whatever you like so long as you keep a straight face’ is an old […]

Modern Murder Mysteries Pt 1: Razors & Rozzers

Recently I wrote an article for US website CrimeReads, trimming it for space, so I thought I’d revisit the piece here with new information. Interviewed after ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, Leonardo DiCaprio complained that he’d seen a lot of his heroes disappear. He was not referring to his own role as a stock fraudster […]

Unconscionable Crimes & Unpardonable Sins

And so to the grand climax of the year’s movies, which I left until last for viewing partly from fear of disappointment. Martin Scorsese’s controversial remarks about the Marvelification of Hollywood conveniently avoided his own lifelong obsession with Italian-Americans arguing in bad restaurants. The initial unveiling of his long-gestating version of the Jimmy Hoffa story, […]

British Eccentrics: A Postscript To Eggs Like Fanny’s

Following on from yesterday’s comments, I took another look at Fanny. At the heart of her cookery were Escoffier’s rules, so this morning I followed her technique for plain simple scrambled eggs and suddenly realised the difference, and why she became an influence on chefs. To a postwar rationed bankrupt nation her food was aspirational. […]

British Eccentrics: Fannying About With Food

Fanny Cradock (real name Phyllis Nan Sortain ‘Primrose’ Pechey) was primarily a live performer. Her parents, Bijou and Archibald, were usually bankrupt so Fanny tried various menial jobs before entering the restaurant trade, hailing Escoffier as a saviour of British cookery  She and her monocle-wearing Major Johnny ran a Daily Telegraph column (where they probably appeared […]

Christmas Cheer

‘Christmas is going to be just like any other day in this house – dead miserable.’ – Tony Hancock As I’m lying in bed with a stinking cold and thinking about cancelling Christmas, Hancock’s ghastly yuletides past, from a time that knew about real austerity, spring readily to mind. There’s a goose being cooked somewhere […]

Season’s Greetings From Bryant & May

‘It’s all stored away up here.’ Arthur Bryant tapped his temple. ‘My head’s like an attic full of ephemera, old record albums, paperbacks you can’t bear to throw out and those moulds dentists used to make of your teeth.’ May sighed and pulled his chair closer to his desk. ‘Okay,’ he said, ‘do you want […]

When The Window Doesn’t Open

Bear with me; I’m going to push this analogy. If stories are a window to a different world, the reader or viewer has to be allowed to open the window and step through it for a while, returning just before it closes again. This isn’t a Joseph Campbell theory, it’s common sense. Frightening stories work […]

Bah Humbug! The Modern Scrooge’s Christmas

There’s so much Christmas around here I could expectorate tinsel. Christmas used to be fun with granddad smoking rolling tobacco indoors and grandma swearing at him and Mum force-feeding everyone her strange homemade mince pies that tasted vaguely of cigarettes and Dad building train-sets that caught fire. Now they’re all dead, so Christmas is a […]

A Christmas Song

Sadly there’s no snow in Covent Garden (or anywhere else in the country). It’s warm and rainy here but to get us into the Christmas, Pagan or holiday spirit, depending upon how you live, here’s Anna and the Apocalypse, not a band but last year’s small-scale smash and one of the few Scottish zombie musicals […]