Monthly Archives: April 2020

The Lockdown Diaries 4: Breathe In, Breathe Out

1. The Joy Of Illness I’m wary about the oversharing. To my mind Vivienne Haig-Wood could have just listened to her husband’s poems and gone to bed with a hot water bottle. To lower the paywall of the conscious mind and admit something serious to a fellow being is to impose upon them, however slightly. […]

Downbeat Shows For Lockdown

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I’m a total theatre rat, going at least once a week, travelling miles and taking risks on the unlikeliest productions. The virus has wrecked my playgoing plans for the year, so I’m going back over old albums and recordings. This week the Lockdown showbiz show to beat them […]

The Lockdown Diaries 3: Double Or Nothing

I’m sitting in my dressing gown overlooking London, thinking about where the city goes from here. In his memoir of growing up in middle-class Viennese society, Stefan Zweig writes that Jewish families such as his were misunderstood. The desire for financial security lasted just two of three generations, and once it was achieved a new […]

‘Devs’ – Technobabble Gets A Glamorous Makeover

I have started ranting at the TV. I never used to even watch it. As a result, I’m completely out of the loop. The last show I saw was ‘Minder’ on television in a hospital waiting room. I think they have it permanently tuned to the 1980s. I’d been looking forward to Alex Garland’s SF […]

The Lockdown Diaries 2

Excerpted from ‘Paperboy: A Memoir’ ‘My formative years were filled with orderly lassitude, like those of a soldier posted to a peaceful backwater. They were days of strawberry jam on white bread, the squeak of chalk in hushed classrooms, Hancock’s Half-Hour, cold mutton on Mondays, back-fence arguments, kicking about in the garden and walking alone […]

The Man Who Drew Attention To Himself

  This is a tragic and largely forgotten story. Your favourite authors are often unknown to others, and the works of the unlucky Mr Rudolf Ditzen were unfamiliar to me; not anymore, for they haunt my sleep. His real life, which involved murder, theft, madness, suicide, alcoholism, drugs and Nazis, is as disturbing as anything […]

The Lockdown Diaries 1: An Adventure I Hadn’t Planned For

On Christmas Eve I came down with a severe flu-like cold that kept boomeranging back. On March 24th, the day the UK coronavirus lockdown began, I was finally diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. It was spectacularly bad timing. Getting into the system for treatment proved impossible for a month, because our hospitals were daily rethinking […]

‘Quiz’: Looking For Answers

Isolation may last a year. Global warming is killing the world. Famine and flood approach. The US president has gone mad. What can we talk about that’s more uplifting?   How about the latest work from playwright James Graham? His TV version of ‘Quiz’ (download all three episodes now on Sky) proved much better than the […]

A Site For All Ages

When I started this site in 1878 I never thought it would last thing long. A blog about books, how original. And we can use it to flog your tawdry output, said the publisher’s PR. Oh, and we’ll want full access to it. The result was the Bryant & May website, disastrous from Day One, […]

Re-Reading In Lockdown: Jack Finney

As a kid I spent a lot of time sick in my a kind of personal lockdown, where you could see other kids outside through the closed window, so reading became nourishment and conversation. There were certain authors who spoke to me, and I later realised that many of them wrote tales tinged with fantastical […]