The Invisible Novel

People don’t care where quotes come from. Does a book exist if nobody reads it? To the author, certainly. The profoundly innovative, ill-fated Ronald Firbank, who hid entire literary worlds in half-sentences, self-published in ever-shrinking quantities to no acclaim whatsoever. And that was in a time when the writer word was the sole media, so […]

Happy 5000th Anniversary!

What did I want to create? A place of ideas. This shot is from my very first blog post, taken on the South Bank. Actually it’s 5002 now – articles, that is. I passed the milestone this week, having written and illustrated an article for this blog nearly every day for eleven years. When I […]

Let’s Go To The Pictures!

Let’s go to my local, the Everyman Cinema. It’s small and cosy and has just three screens, not 75. It has a snazzy bar. The staff are terrific. A waitress brings you food and wine in the cinema. You have little sofas and cushions. And it costs a fricken’ arm and a leg, transforming a […]

Collectors Beware!

In the book world, things got a lot better for collections of the rare and arcane; suddenly you could get hold of the most obscure out-of-print editions for mere pence. But the pleasure of finding a favourite edition is mitigated by the feeling that we’re in an endgame for paperbacks in particular, killed off by […]

Horrible People, Surreal Potential

There’s something wrong when post-apocalypse drama is more appealing than a sit-com. Here’s what to do when you’re sick. Box-set binge. It was all my dehydrated brain could handle while my body was rejecting the planet, so I watched something called ‘Russian Doll’ on Netflix. My reason for choosing this programme was carefully considered, viz. […]

The Perfect Essay

‘There are some questions in life, the very speaking of which are their undoing’ – David Rakoff First, a definition. An article is a piece of writing that is included with others in a newspaper, magazine or other publication. An essay is a short piece of writing on a particular subject. An article is written […]

Well, That Struck A Chord…

Concerning yesterday’s piece, it was indeed the big hair version of the Robinson Crusoe story, made for French television in the sixties, which survives largely because of its delightful George van Parys soundtrack (there’s a full album available). I collect obscure soundtracks because everything comes around again, and you never know when such music may come […]

The Lost Art Of Papercraft

Think back to a time before your laptop screen, perhaps at a point during your childhood, when you discovered the joy of cutting and folding paper. The most primitive of hobbies is also the most sophisticated of arts. When I was small  you could buy paper cut-out activity books, now not allowed because they involve […]

When I Hated Being A Writer

  You might fill a church hall but you’re not Beyoncé I was once in a European bookshop when the bookseller asked; ‘Are you famous?’ I turned to my friend. ‘Am I famous?’ She considered the question for a moment. ‘Well,’ she told the bookseller, ‘he’s known.’ There was a time when I became known […]

Why I Tried To Hate JK Rowling

I was once on a tube train sitting opposite a young punk who was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan; ‘Mother Theresa Is A C*nt’. I was shocked, but also had to stop myself from laughing. It had been a long time since I had been surprised by someone insulting an untouchable treasure. When […]