London

The Books That Don’t Exist

These are the books which are hard to find in bookshops, being independently published or self-published. In a way, Amazon has levelled the playing field for us seekers of rarities, as it is now possible to find all manner of strange and highly specific books dedicated to unlikely subjects. Bookshops can’t stock print-on-demand volumes and […]

Yet More Films To Look Out For!

This is the time of the year when I have to see 100+ films to vote in the British Academy. These mini-reviews are merely pointers for viewing purposes and don’t necessarily represent my choices. A Lot of Lustre At the end of the last film column I suggested we have better stories to tell than […]

The Comments: No Comment!

One of the hugely enjoyable benefits of churning out this weekly grab-bag of topics known as a writer’s blog is the Comments Section. Readers are happy to sound off on any subject under the sun. Sadly, we’ve lost quite a few delightfully eccentric and knowledgeable commenters over the years. I’ll have to add some bits […]

More Films To Look Out For

You won’t have to look hard to find ‘West Side Story’ – it will no doubt win big at the Oscars; after last year’s dour ‘Nomadland’ audiences could do with an uplift and this fits the bill. It’s respectful of the original, replaces the white actors with a properly Puerto Rican cast, finds a new […]

This Week’s Page Turners

I haven’t caught up with any graphic novels for a while, so I tried Albert Monteys and Ryan North’s adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse 5’. It was never a favourite novel of mine, an uneasy and peculiar mix of satire, war memoir, farce and science fiction, but this is a superbly realised project that captures […]

For Heaven’s Sake Let’s Bring Back The Friday Song

There’s little joy to be had this Christmas (although ‘West Side Story’ was a surprisingly good remake – if a trifle unnecessary) so here are the opening titles for Wes Anderson’s ‘The French Despatch’, which will cheer you up if you’re a Wes fan and nauseate you if you’re not. Anderson noticeably modelled his early […]

Me And Mr S: A Sondheim Appreciation

I’ll never list my favourite Stephen Sondheim songs. The composer-lyricist suggested that writers should never turn out lists because once the idea is established everything else is repetition. His dictums, rules and ideas were set out in two huge volumes of works, ‘Finishing The Hat’ and ‘Look, I Made A Hat’. I’ve trusted many of […]

Seeking Strangeness

Genre fiction can be a good friend to new authors because ultimately it’s a meritocracy. It does not discriminate between young or old, rich or poor, North or South. If you’re keen enough you can join one of the many societies that exist for young SFF writers around the country and get something you’ve written […]

Who Do I Fink I Am?

The provenance of Cockneys isn’t as clearly defined as you’d expect. In order to be a Cockney you must have been born within the sound of Bow Bells. But many people don’t realise that the church isn’t in Bow, and has nothing to do with the East End. The church of St Mary-le-Bow was destroyed […]

Fountains & Tulips

‘I want to talk to you about ducts’ – Brazil The fountains in Trafalgar Square are spurting again instead of dribbling. Well, we’re all getting old. They now reach 35 feet high. The three 50-year-old engines underground – which also houses a fridge-sized plastic tub filled with a year’s worth of coins scooped out of […]