Monthly Archives: February 2021

Abney Park Cemetery

Those with long memories may recognise the above photograph, as the angel featured is on the cover of ‘Darkest Day’. My last post mentioned this non-conformist cemetery in Stoke Newington’s main shopping area. At its centre is Europe’s long-standing non-denominational chapel, currently derelict. It sets the tone for the mossy, damp, gloomy yet distinctly urban […]

The Opposite Of Darkness

I love early mornings because they offer the possibility of adventure. We are told that there are no adventures to be had right now, and that we live in testing times. Are we really? We live longer and better than anyone before us. This weekend I walked through Abney Park Cemetery, the maze-like burial ground […]

The Year In Documentaries

  Just as the literary world yielded some of its best surprises in non-fiction books this year, the top factual films have bested their fictional counterparts in terms of courage and originality. Fiction films have suffered from the black hole created by studio absence, but our attention has been shifted onto far more interesting material. […]

Some Crime Authors Deserve To Be Locked Up

A lengthy conversation with my agent this morning on the subject of writing (what else?). I’ve been receiving review copies of lots of crime novels, many of which I find completely unreadable. Partly this is down to their authors’ use of cliché, but often it’s the sheer unreality of everything, as if it’s all been […]

What Are The Bryant & May Books Really About?

There are questions people in every profession ask each other. Apparently when actors who have played King Lear meet each other the first question is always, ‘How heavy was your Cordelia?’ Ours is, ‘Are you still writing those…’ along with a heavy implication that you should have given it up years ago. WS Gilbert’s fiancée […]

The Selling Of Words

A moderately intelligent dog can write a Sherlock Holmes story. Sometimes writing comes thickly and slowly. On a warm day it can feel like Henry Reed’s poem ‘The Naming of Parts’, the mind adrift, the fight to concentrate. But after the words have been forged into sentences, the sentences harvested and trimmed into the whole, […]

A Whizz In The Kitchen

Restaurants are the by-product of travel. There’s a café near me called the Capannina Café. I’m always tempted to push open the door and ask, ‘Pardon me sir, is this the Capannina Café?’ It’s the equivalent of those place that always feature in American movies with old waitresses, plates of waffles and endless pots of […]

‘It’s A Sin’: Dying Of Loneliness

Russell Davies’ ‘It’s A Sin’, his five-part drama about AIDS in 80s Britain, will probably become the definitive look at the period. It’s a big hit and I can see why. Davies is brilliant at connecting with the young and keeping things warmly human. However, it’s not ‘Angels in America’. It’s issue-led soap opera rather […]

Where Not To Live In London

It’s happening everywhere, of course; the scent of money attracts rushed construction that destroys neighbourhoods. But trust London to make it more egregious than in, say, New York. A few weeks ago I went for a walk through an area I’ve not visited for a while. Nine Elms is not a neighbourhood. It lies between […]

You Asked For It

…and have only yourselves to blame. For several years now you’ve been asking me to write a Bryant & May London guide, and now seems the perfect time to do it. I’ve been able to visit a great many buildings without the impediments of traffic and tourists. Originally I had baulked at the idea simply […]