The Arts

The Man & The Boat

A Night to Remember (10)

As the publication of ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ gets nearer (it’s still not until October), I’m reminded that I had to leave out of it as much as I put in. Here’s one little story that I was forced to set aside, although if the book is a success perhaps it will enter a […]

Into The Unknown: A Fun But Frustrating Look At SF


I like the quirkiness of exhibitions at the Barbican; the toothpaste-tube space at the Curve gallery is awkward, being too high and too narrow, and simply not big enough, with the result that shows are often divided into three parts on different floors – yet part of the fun can be trying to find where […]

Black Humour: The Comedy Tool That’s Too Hot To Use


US comic Kathy Griffin got herself into hot water after holding up the severed head of Trump in a video post.  CNN fired her and she broke down in tears. The Daily Mail, that fine source of good taste, squealed like a stuck pig about her ‘offensiveness’, and Griffin promptly apologised for her appalling lack […]

It’s The Weekend, Let’s Have A Song!


Goodness, it’s been ages since we had a good, obscure or very weird song. But it’s my job to search out the strange stuff so that you don’t have to. This one from ’20 Centimetres’, a film about a narcoleptic hooker who lives with a dwarf and dreams in musical numbers every time she passes […]

If You Don’t Trust Shakespeare, Don’t Do It

Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare - Shakespeare’s Globe - 21 April 2017Director - Daniel KramerDesigner - Soutra GilmourChoreographer - Tim ClaydonLighting - Charles Balfour

Emma Rice, a fine, innovative director, became the Globe director who started the rumpus – she famously stated that Shakespeare was like medicine, and wanted to modernise a theatre most famous for being a replica of the original. It was a bad fit; she went on to direct a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ that did indeed […]

What Publishers Get Up To Behind Closed Doors


They hold meetings, of course – but usually they don’t include the people who drive their business, the authors. Not so Quercus, whose annual sales conference I’ve just attended at London’s Cafe de Paris – they believe in involving their authors heavily throughout the publishing process, and in doing so seem to be quietly revolutionising […]

My Mind’s A Blank


A friend praises my ‘phenomenal’ memory’ this week, but I have to disagree. Why? The news that this year’s BAFTA TV awards went not to any cutting edge shows or new format channels but to ‘Panorama’, ‘Emmerdale’, Ant & Dec and Steve Coogan not only confirms what deeply conservative times we’re living through, but also […]

Creating A Shared World


If a novel is a window through which we might view an entire world, it is hardly surprising that writers wish to show their readers more of that world. It’s human nature to want to draw connections and make a cohesive whole, and yet, paradoxically, the best books and films are often those which leave […]

Mexico’s Macabre Music


File this under; Things I didn’t know yesterday. The Mexican film ‘Macho’ caused a sensation recently – but not for its outrageous subject matter, which involves a flamboyantly camp fashion designer hiding his heterosexuality to ensure that his sales remain high (it’s a comedy that turns surprisingly violent). Rather, it shocked because Renato López, the co-star, […]

Why ‘Hamilton’ Will Work In London


You might have noticed that a play written in a mix of hip hop and show tunes about an energetic writer of the US constitution and a British villain created a freakishly intense fever of ticket-buying in New York. Tickets are now on sale in London to an audience that’s less stand-and-applaud and a little […]