Monthly Archives: December 2019

A Christmas Sesh

My Brother had a Big Birthday yesterday and although he does not enjoy coming up to London, he gave it a try for a city day out. It turned out to be a pretty good template for a chatty stroll in the short daylight hours. We started in Shoreditch at the Bike Shed, a warren-like […]

The Ottoman Intellectual

  ‘What, him? An intellectual? That thing over there, lying on the ottoman scratching himself? That’s your idea of an intellectual, is it? Well, heaven help us. The only thing he knows about books is how to run them.’ – Tony Hancock talking about Sid James What now constitutes our idea of an intellectual? The […]

Dickens Reinvented

A long-needed custard pie in the face. How do we deal with Armando Iannucci, the Scottish satirist? After he’d written ‘The Thick Of It’, ‘In The Loop’ and ‘The Death of Stalin’, I thought I had him pegged as a politically-motivated writer more at ease with male characters (even in ‘Veep’ most of his women […]

Is It Too Early To Mention Next Year?

I am a driven scribomaniac to the detriment of my personal life.   For many authors 2019 was another annus horribilis, as publishers exercised caution in a retrenched market. The competition grew fiercer but the books published (far too many of them) became tamer, and it often felt as if they failed to exist in […]

A Very Snowy Christmas

Over the years I’ve come to think of the commenters on this site as friends and relatives, albeit quirky and occasionally annoying ones like your auntie who drank too much gin on Christmas Day and didn’t make it to the bathroom. I still miss Mike Cane, Dan Terrell, Anne Hill Fernie and many others. What […]

So, That Happened.

William Blake said ‘active evil is better than passive good’. He could not have asked for a better demonstration of his maxim last night. An election is usually about choosing the right candidate, not trying to avoid the wrong one. Boris Johnson, centrist, liar, racist, homophobe, fantasist, inconsistent in policies, evasive in interviews, awkward in […]

A Fairytale For Christmas

I promised to post a Christmas fairytale this season. It was written to commission, the brief being to twist a traditional story. There are certain styles you can adopt very easily, the Sherlock Holmes approach for example, and fairy tales have a rhythm all their own that dates back to their Victorian translators. And can […]

Writers’ Desert Island Tools

Let’s imagine you’re cast away on a tropic isle and are still consumed with a burning desire to write. What do you take with you when you leave that burning ship and strike out for the beach? OK, the island has broadband – yes, and shops, let’s not push the analogy too far. My real […]

A Review Of A Murder Mystery By Someone Who Writes Them

I published a short review of this film a couple of months back, but now that it’s on general release I’ve revisited it with some further thoughts. NO SPOILERS There’s an in-built snobbery about the crime novel, a look of disdain from literary writers who disregard genre writing as having nothing to say. They should […]

Judgement On Nuremberg

London is simply too eerily blue-skied and sunny at the moment, so we hied ourselves off to visit friends in Nuremberg at the weekend. Bavaria’s second city was snowless but not exactly Christmas-free, with seven Christmas markets, too many Bavarian sausages and too much Glühwein available on every corner. Our charming friends live in an elegant […]