My Bookshop Hitlist No.1: Bookpeople

The building aint’t pretty, but it’s what’s inside that counts. You can love a bookshop without ever having gone there, because friends you like and trust know and recommend it, so today a big shout-out goes to Bookpeople in Austin, Texas. Look at the crowd it gets for events, dammit – sometimes we’re lucky to […]

The Great Champagne Conspiracy

  New Year’s Eve is the time to open that special bottle. Great Britain imports more champagne than anyone else in the world, but for the second year running sales are well down and continuing to fall. The French dug up over 40 villages to plant more champagne grapes when sales were booming, and are […]

A Star On Christmas Night

That’s it for another year (almost). Watched the Queen (Time for all of us to reflect, Commonwealth Games, baby photos) and ate a Banned-In-The-UK lunch (capon fattened on brandy), now considering a bracing (i.e. hurricane-facing) stroll along beach. Meanwhile, here’s a star from one of the most magical cathedrals on earth.

Christmas Clearance

Not content with selling seasonal caganas (squatting, shitting figurines) of political figures, Christ, football teams and Disney characters (how come they haven’t sued?) here in Barcelona, try these delicious Christmas desserts, turds in chamber pots, complete with what looks like blood and bits of sweetcorn. Mmmmm!

Jesus and Guns 2

Here’s a Christmas thought. The Revd Dr Graham Standish has this to say on ‘What Gun Would Jesus Carry?’, the subject that’s on the tips of everyone’s tongues (or at least on Fox News): ‘Christians face a dilemma when it comes to guns. Would Jesus agree with the National Rifle Association’s approach (…) by encouraging more people […]

Finding Christmas

Europe does Christmas very well; it’s just as cheesy but less corporate and nakedly sales-oriented than the UK or US, and Berlin is better than most, with its plethora of Christmas markets and art and craft fairs. The biggest problem in a weekend jaunt is allowing for travel on a subway system that’s (understandably perhaps, […]

Referendums: When The Power Of Every Word Counts

Here are some people celebrating hatred. Croatia is the EU’s newest nation. It’s also a Roman Catholic country, so perhaps it was inevitable that human rights for minorities never stood a chance. But holding a referendum to ban same-sex marriage, with a question deliberately worded to prejudice the answer, has just opened the floodgates to […]

When Hollywood Went To Europe

Europe has always gone to Hollywood and hired its talents out – but there was a brief period when the reverse happened. In the late 1990s Hollywood topped up finance for European movies that wouldn’t otherwise be made, employing some great directors in the process. Europeans rarely replicated big action in their popular films, concentrating […]

News Round-Up

As I zip around looking for fresh influences to write about, I make notes of what’s happening in the world. As a regular feature in my short story collections I would start with a round-up of news items I found funny/ tragic/ insulting. I continued the habit for five or six books. Here’s an mix […]

The Secret Life Of Nursery Rhymes

I’ve been searching for a new title for my upcoming standalone abduction thriller, so I conducted some research on nursery rhymes.  These seem to be surprisingly finite in number and variety, and are defaulted to by parents even though their topicality and meaning has long been lost. I learned, for example, that ‘Humpty-Dumpty’ was supposedly […]