Monthly Archives: February 2020

Out Of Context: The ‘American Dirt’ Row

Jeanine Cummins’ novel ‘American Dirt’ was always going to be controversial in these sensitive times but she really hit pay-dirt when the world of online chin-strokers took an interest. Her novel is an adventure – do we call books that anymore? – involving Mexican migrants, and the author is white. I haven’t read it yet, but if […]

Musical Sentences

Last year I wrote about the shaping of words, and how we can learn from music and the spoken word when writing books. Scriptwriters Galton & Simpson explained how long they argued over the word ‘very’ in the sentence, ‘Why, that’s very nearly an armful!’ in their famous radio/TV episode ‘The Blood Donor’. The trick […]

Inside Writing 3: A Blank Page

There remains, clear like an adventure, the day.  Today I started the 20th Bryant & May novel, to be published in 2021, which may seem a long way off to you but is actually a little behind schedule, which is why author’s works continue to appear after they drop dead. A blank page, then. How to mark […]

The Baftas And Diversity

‘Where the Baftas go the Oscars follow’ parroted the journalists this week, but it’s not strictly true. For many years the Baftas could not be mentioned in the same breath as the Oscars. It was an underpowered industry closed shop. The ceremony was linked to a lengthy dinner, as in any other industry, so by […]

Gags By Gaslight

The covers are shockingly bad – possibly made by children with pasta shapes and Pritstick. The formats are annoying – why is Volume 4 a different size? But behind the covers are a real surprise. First, let’s step back a bit. The nation went into mourning when it heard that Arthur Conan Doyle was not […]

The Last Brexit Post (Thank God)

‘Brexit Uncertainty’ is the buzz-phrase of the new decade There’ll be no Brexit posts on the site after today because it’s too divisive a subject and it’s not my job to judge how people choose to protest. Yesterday the knock-on effect of the UK’s decision to dump its largest trading partner showed itself when I […]

He Was No Saint

Everyone of a certain age can remember the theme music to ‘The Saint’. The creator of the quintessentially English stiff-upper-lipped hero was Leslie Charteris, born in Singapore in 1907. His experiences working on a rubber plantation, in a tin mine, as a gold prospector, fairground carnie, bus driver, pearl fisher, bartender and professional bridge player […]

The Morning After

How do you commemorate the final result when you’re on the losing team? If the whole of London voted to remain in Europe (including, famously and on multiple occasions, Boris de Pfeffel Johnson) it was partly because we were the ones who travelled to and from Europe on a weekly basis, who worked alongside Europeans, […]