Monthly Archives: March 2021

Bryant & May 20th Anniversary Novel – Cover Revealed

What can I tell you about the upcoming Bryant & May novel that doesn’t give the whole game away? Almost nothing, it turns out, except that it’s the longest, and the last. It’s long because I wanted to tell a bigger story, and the last because I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish […]

Deutschland, Deutschland…

The most enjoyable lockdown box-set binge I enjoyed this year was Deutschland ’83, ’86 and ’89, the three season trilogy of the era-defining German drama that started in the UK on All4’s ‘Walter Presents’ and has now moved to Sky. It’s been pointed out that the Deutschland series has surface similarities to another show, The Americans. […]

One Year On: Defiantly Yours

Illness is as boring as baby photos. March 23 is not a date I’ll easily forget. One year ago on that abnormally sunny day the UK entered its first lockdown and with immaculate timing I started chemo/radiotherapy for cancer. The experience of having to visit a hospital at the epicentre of London’s Covid pandemic every […]

Information, Please: We Are Bellingcat

A career in IT was once seen as cool; not anymore, apparently. Latest surveys indicate that there’s been a fall in interest among the young just when job opportunities in the sector are climbing again. That’s bad news for Eliot Higgins, but thankfully he has people with the passion, time and patience to uncover injustices […]

No End of Empire

Britain’s empire legacy has left behind a complex tangle of traces, and you can still be wrong-footed as a guilty liberal. I was recently reprimanded by an Indian festival organiser after I carefully used ‘Kolkata’ instead of ‘Calcutta’. I’d assumed the anglicised version was simply outdated, as India has been free from colonial rule for more […]

Writing About People Like Us Part 2

To write a family scene I really have to use my imagination ‘Don’t show me pictures of your baby,’ says Brendon Gleeson in ‘The Guard’, ‘they’re all the same except the really ugly ones.’ For a couple of decades selfish London urbanites looked upon children as if they were visitors from Mars. ‘Are they dwarves?’ […]

Writing About People Like Us: Part 1

The world I grew up in is not the world that’s out there now. Every year there’s a competition among young BAME actors in America to perform the best monologues by August Wilson, whose ten-play ’20th century’ cycle is the gold standard by which black actors are judged. Although not well-known in the UK, his […]

A Book Before Lunchtime

Recently I tried to work out how many words I’d written in the service of Bryant & May. Each time I work it out I get a different figure, but it runs into millions. You can more than double that if you add in my other writings. People are always shocked by this, but if […]

Wrong End of the Shelf: Strange Books I Love

Why we should be seduced away from the reading mainstream. For me it started with the plotless symbolist novel ‘À Rebours’ by Joris-Karl Huysmans, in which the hero locks himself away in his house near Fontenay to live in artificial decadence rather than follow the natural order. The strangest thing that happens in the (non) narrative […]

The History Of A Phrase

The language I grew up with isn’t yours. Family members don’t speak to each other as people on the street communicate. Familiarity changes the way we speak. Parents shorthand and pepper their conversations with odd phrases. The family language I grew up with won’t be yours. Much of my father’s conversation was filled with references […]