The Arts

Woman Wanted: Must Be Ornamental And Under Thirty


We’ve come a long way since James Bond slapped a girl on the bottom and told her to fetch him lunch. Watching old Hollywood films yesterday, it was shocking to note how many of them gave no dialogue lines to women but simply dumped them from the plot once they’d taken a shower and walked […]

Censorship Is A Funny Thing


There’s been a lot in the academic press lately about the ways in which public-driven censorship is destroying free debate. Although this is currently more of a US talking point, what starts there usually ends here. Currently there are over a dozen books featuring drugs, abortion, race and LGBT issues on the US college libraries’ […]

The Death Of Fleet Street


The Fleet Street play ‘Ink’ has transferred from Islington’s local Almeida Theatre to the Duke of York’s in St Martin’s Lane, where I just saw it, and is a good example of a play whose seemingly esoteric subject reminds us of a pivotal point in British social history. It concerns the beginning of the end, […]

Rhymes With Orange: My Love/Hate Relationship With Poetry


A recent query wondered why there were no blog posts on poetry. The first poem I was ever heard was ‘Naming of Parts’ by Henry Reed. It needed one simple line of explanation from our primary school teacher; soldiers are sitting outside a summer’s day and being taught how to load a rifle, but the […]

‘Dialogue Is Not Conversation’


This is a nugget of wisdom that I vaguely recall comes from the marvellous Kenneth Tynan (although I may be wrong – he delivered far too many bon mots). I was thinking about this because I’m writing a dialogue-heavy book at the moment, and also posted Maggie Armitage’s texts, which I trimmed for content but […]

The Museum ‘Experience’


Exhibitions have become central to museum funding. Probably the biggest development in my lifetime was the arrival of Tutankhamun at the British Museum in (I think) 1974, which created a sensation. Where once you visited permanent displays many times and saw occasional loaned-out items, suddenly items that had been impossible to see came to you. […]

In Glorious Technicolor: A Century of Film and How it Has Shaped Us


In 1916, US cinemas received instruction on the purpose of film: ‘I stir the blood, I quicken the pulse, I encourage the imagination, I stimulate the young, I comfort and I solace the old and sorrowing…I am the motion picture.’ At this fundamental level, even ‘Transformers 5’ fulfils one part of that brief, but how […]

I’m A Grown Up, Get Me Out Of Here!


Every morning I climb through the Harry Potter fans who queue to have their photographs taken standing beside a brick wall with a piece of luggage trolley sticking out of it (what is it that makes them all raise their left leg?) and swear never to cut through King’s Cross Station again. Every morning I […]

Where Are The Stories For Our Times?


What a decade! How do you encapsulate it? Murmurings and mutterings; the rejection of global economics, the rejection of free movement. As more parts of the world become unstable, the pressure on those areas which are relatively calm increases. They’re safe havens for cash and companies, property and tourism. With the reduction of popularity in […]

Catching The Mood: How Writers Hit Or Miss


There’s a writers’ saying; If you try to jump on a bandwagon, it’s already too late too board. This is because writing is like slow cooking or gardening – it takes a long time to see the final result. Yet some writers manage to ride the national mood. There’s a simple reason why fantasy films […]