The Arts

Criminally Different (A Baker’s Dozen Of Underrated Crime Films)

What makes a good crime film? Well, there has to be an innocent whose eyes are opened and a criminal on a mission, and there’s usually someone trapped between the two, creating a moral problem. But the usual suspects, like ‘The Usual Suspects’, are absent here. In any top ten list you’ll find ‘Bonnie & […]

The Kind Of Stuff That Sells

My old pal Joanne Harris is in the press again, this time for revealing what she was paid for the rights to have her excellent novel ‘Chocolat’ made into a mediocre film – £5,000 apparently. I have never been paid a figure remotely as high as that for the rights to anything. The standard fee […]

Short Stories: The Complete List

For those completists out there, this is the definitive list of all my published short story titles, now reaching Joyce Carol Oatesian (Oatsean?) proportions, if not her consistent quality. This is the order in which I wrote them, but there are still around five missing that I haven’t been able to track down. (That’s not […]

The Year Without Theatre

The first play I saw was George Bernard Shaw’s ‘The Devil’s Disciple’. I must have been seven or eight. The last play I saw was Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s ‘The Visit’, days before Lockdown. Between the two plays has been sandwiched a lifetime’s theatre, plays seen more frequently than any football fan’s match fixtures. It was a […]

If In Doubt, Cut It Out: The New Entertainment Censorship 2

There can be no single defining rule to censorship. Mickey Rooney’s horrible impersonation of an Asian man in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ doesn’t get removed, probably because there’s no way of doing so without destroying the treasured film. Yet I remember the single shocking instance of the verb ‘fuck’ in ‘Cabaret’, which was changed to ‘screw’ and […]

If In Doubt, Cut It Out: The New Entertainment Censorship

  It started when I caught the opening of ‘Hairspray’ on Netflix and stayed tuned to watch John Waters’ cameo as a flasher on the streets of Baltimore. I remember Tracy Turnblad walking along a street filled with parodied sixties moments including a drunk in a bar (it’s early morning) and several pregnant women hilariously […]

When Things Go Bad

It’s an entertainment genre barely recognised, but once you look around you’ll see it everywhere; stories of an object that, once owned, brings bad luck and often death in its wake. The things of desire make for great morality tales. Stephen King has produced his fair share of cursed objects, especially in ‘Needful Things’, which […]


Are authors allowed to talk about anything other than their creations? JK Rowling was absolutely right to make public her argument that untransitioned males should not have full female rights. In time-honoured fashion she laid out her thoughts clearly, humanely and fairly in an essay which has now made her the target of ill-informed criticism […]

We Need To Talk About Context

The removal of the Fawlty Towers episode ‘The Germans’ for a racial slur was the standard reaction one would expect about now, while the BLM movement gets up to speed, no problem there, although I’m sure a lot of sclerotic shires folk exploded with rage about it. The action provided a talking point. Ultimately Black […]

Let’s Raise A Glass

Lately my pals have been calling to ask how I feel on my Big Rogue Cell Adventure, and I have to admit that the bad days are incredibly bad, but I’m holding out for the good ones when in a few weeks’ time after Lockdown and my BRCA I might feel more like rubber-legged Michael […]