Stamps Are Now Smarter Than Me

The Royal Mail has launched the world’s first “intelligent” stamp, the first to work with image recognition technology. The stamp, part of the Royal Mail’s latest Great British Railways edition, will launch online content via an iPhone or Android smartphone. Users place the camera over the stamp, which then launches the online content. The Royal […]

Unfortunate Words

When I have a book coming out in America, my editor skims through it to see if there’s any language that won’t translate, and adjusts words accordingly. But it doesn’t seem to work the other way. America’s ‘Where’s Waldo?’ became ‘Where’s Wally?’, but to us a wally is English for a plonker, an idiot. Years […]

England’s Strangest Town

I’ve long thought of Blackpool as the most peculiar town in Britain, so trapped in a between-the-wars era that it constitutes some kind of grotesque living museum, and now I’ve had those fears/hopes confirmed. In what feels like a publicity stunt, Blackpool is trying to get itself listed as a Unesco World Heritage site. The […]

Defining British

Let’s get a few things clear; I don’t like national definitions because by nature they fall into cliche. For decades our idea of an American was a loud bloke in a ten-gallow hat. Now Americans think we’re all like Russell Brand. My US book jackets all feature a Union Jack, a bowler hat (ever seen […]

‘Do You Want Better Grammar With That?’

This story reaches me from OUPBlog via Mike Cane. Apparently an English professor was ejected from a Starbucks on Manhattan’s Upper West Side for not deploying Starbucks’ mandatory corporate-speak. The story immediately lit up the internet, turning her into an instant celebrity. Lynne Rosenthal cared so much about good English that she finally stood up […]

London Old & New

My picture shows one of those lovely juxtapositions you see in London all the time. So here’s an extract from a piece I wrote about the city for a US website a while back… It’s a tourist FAQ in England; When you live in cities a couple of thousand of years old, how can you […]

Retreating To The Sun

This week I’ve hopped the Eurostar to France and am blogging from a small village in Provence, where the clear nights mean you can see the tail end of the amazing Pleiades meteor shower. I know it’s a holiday month, but as we drive through villages devoid of any human life, I feel like I’ve […]

Re:View – ‘Hierro’

NO SPOILERS Water imagery abounds in ‘Hierro’, director Gabe Ibanez’s Spanish language thriller which bears passing resemblance to ‘The Orphanage’. It begins with a genuinely startling car crash in which a mother loses her child, and then picks up with Maria and her son Diego travelling to one of the volcanic Spanish islands on the […]

BP Oil Spill From Above

You may not know that Google Earth has its own blog, filled with interesting imagery. Here’s the spill from above the Earth. You can find other good stuff here.

The Sexiness Of Books

The Kindle is plastered all over the pages of the Amazon UK website in what is increasingly looking like desperation. I like the idea of an ebook reader, but then there’s this picture, which I took on the beach yesterday. And it’s weirdly sexy. Book sexy. The casual sifting of sand from the pages, the […]