My iPhone X Review


I know, it’s just a phone. But in the same way that Lyra, the heroine of ‘His Dark Materials’ has a daemon always at her side, phones have become our inseparable equivalent.  I have a very few bits of tech I keep up to date, but this is one. It’s already a cliche, but the […]

Advice From A Snapper


This post was inspired by a very good BBC article about David Hurn, a dyslexic Welsh schoolboy who through luck and good judgement became one of the world’s few elite Magnum photographers, taking some of the 20th century’s most iconic photographs. In the article Hurn, now 83, asks himself how he managed to reach this […]

Rather A Shame: How The English Language Is Changing


Language is always changing, even though we may not notice it. UK English has always been fundamentally different from US English. In any lexicon of English there’s always a list of cockney rhyming slang, 95% of which has not been heard outside of ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’. I was reminded […]

Harassment In The Media Workplace


As Netflix cancels its renewal of ‘House of Cards’ just after Kevin Spacey’s comments, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were connected, but no; cancellation of the long-running series had been planned way beforehand; not that you’d know this from hysterical articles in the UK press. The problem was not so much, I think, with […]

Censorship Is A Funny Thing


There’s been a lot in the academic press lately about the ways in which public-driven censorship is destroying free debate. Although this is currently more of a US talking point, what starts there usually ends here. Currently there are over a dozen books featuring drugs, abortion, race and LGBT issues on the US college libraries’ […]

Getting To Grips With Twitter


I’m always surprised that so many people who like Facebook don’t use Twitter, and I realise now that some of them have got the wrong idea about it. There are endless tips and hacks about using Twitter, mostly to do with keeping your post at the top of the pile and the right times of […]

Think Literacy Levels Are Fine? Read This


Ah, England, home of Shakespeare! Also, a land where people apparently can’t string two words together, a country with a literacy rate that places us 44th in the world order, rather a long way behind, say, Latvia and Moldova, not quite as low as Tunisia or Papua New Guinea. The source for literacy rates is here although […]

To Blog Or Not To Blog?


When I first thought about starting a blog, there was much that didn’t appeal about the idea. I didn’t want to create great swathes of type about the Brontë sisters or Pushkin. There are too many academics and historical non-fiction writers who are doing a far, far better job than I ever could, and my personal reading […]

The Cruel World Of Comics


Read by any means possible – that’s pretty much always been my motto, and as a child, the cheapest and earliest form of reading was always comics.  A copy of Action Comics #1 from 1938, featuring the first appearance of Superman, sold for a record $3.2 million dollars in 2014. One in poorer condition was […]

Writers Who Click

Chris art

Recently the Times ran an amusing article on people who remain disinterested in IT, pointing out that 4.8m people in the UK are Neo-Luddites, with no smart phone or access to the internet. Not a very large proportion, and certainly lower than in the US, where 14% of the population doesn’t go online. But as […]