Monthly Archives: May 2022

A Message From Mr Bryant On Peculiar London

Hullo there. I put my glasses down a minute ago and now I can’t find them. I’ve been asked by Transworld, who are publishing ‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ in July, to say something about the capital’s places and its people that we can be proud of (not the lad above, thankfully). What they mean […]

Why Have Men Stopped Reading?

The pandemic encouraged people around the world to read more books than ever before. There have been some changes. Amazon is pushing audiobooks, where their profits are higher. Hardbacks have picked up sales and e-books have fallen since no longer being promoted by Amazon. But all the academic data I’ve read shows that the gender gap has […]

Should Crime Novels Reflect The Times?

How much of the times can you reflect? For most of the twentieth century the crime novel has been timeless, a place you could go where nothing much ever changed. Crime novels do reveal when they were written, of course. I instinctively place a pre- or post-war bracket on the older books I read. And […]

What’s Been, What’s Coming

Hot Enough For May Southern Europe is experiencing an unpleasant, debilitating heatwave. This afternoon in Barcelona’s Palo Alto market a young woman fainted in front of me and was instantly attended by an ambulance team. Instead of being concerned for her I could only think that the NHS would have warned her of a two-hour […]

Why I Am Not Sally Rooney

May feels like a quiet time for books, although my reading continues at the same throughout the year. According to a GQ survey, men only account for a fifth of literary fiction readers. In 2000 men wrote 61% of the top-selling hardbacks. Now it’s lower than 43%. Changing demographics, cultural diversity and female readers’ preferences […]

Today’s Conversation Pieces

Morocco Is Timeless Yet Fast Evolving Travel has become more complicated since Brexit. Now that the UK is designated as a ‘third country’ we have different entry requirements and are checked separately. For many travel is no longer the get-up-and-go experience of the past but an elaborate and expensive maze of paperwork. Officials in other […]

Morocco Bound

‘Fez is for culture, Casablanca is for trade, Marrakech is for tourism,’ said the driver. Marrakech is a city of two halves; the post-colonial remnants of its former French incarnation and a far older Berber Medina of clay walls, narrow souks, feral cats, bread-carts, overladen motorbikes and those old men who sit in hatches surrounded […]

Call Me Scheherazade

Good morning. There’s an old Stanley Holloway music hall song called ‘My word, you do look ill’, in which Holloway is stopped by various acquaintances who tell him he looks terrible, until one says he never looked better in his life. It’s amazing how easily we can be affected by outside news and the opinions […]

The Never-Ending Story

Imagine writing a book on a subject that fascinates you – a famous sports ground, vintage cars, town planning, movie stars. You research it for years, write it, rewrite and edit and proof it, and after you’ve finished and the book has just gone to press you discover that a new piece of information – […]

The Tube Gets An Upgrade

  ‘Take Every Englishman And Twist Him By The Neck’ I spend far too much of my time in London’s tube system. From the age of two I’d been taken on tube trains at regular intervals (although my mother had preferred the old trams) and by my eighth year I was on them by myself. […]