Observatory

Genesis Of A Blog

In August 2008 I started this blog with a post about the neighbour in ‘Bewitched’. The posts were short and funny. They were not often about books. Sometimes we had songs or musical numbers. We had competitions, crosswords and treasure hunts, as if we were big children. Most author websites discussed literature, but I didn’t […]

Urgent Hair Update

  When I was, oh I don’t know, about three (see above) I had a mop of blond hair, was forced into cardigans at the seaside and was the size of a large duck. When I was 7 years-old my father proudly introduced me to ‘Old Morris’ who would take tonsorial control of me now […]

Surviving Chernobyl

Billy Bunter’s Big Blowout Recently I went to a party where there were lots of old friends I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. It was lovely to see them after lockdown, and there was so much of them to see. They were, well there’s no other way of putting this, fat, but dare I […]

Still Pinching Myself

Simple Joys Tinto de Verano is the perfect summer drink; everyone orders it in Spain yet its ingredients are basic; red wine, ice cubes, lemon/lime soda, slices of oranges and lemons. It’s just something that tastes of summer. I’m drinking it during my one-week holiday (the first this year) in Barcelona, a trip thrown together at […]

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

So This Happened At 7pm Monday night, Pete and I were at an impasse, arguing about possible ways of escaping the country. Sick of the dark days and apocalyptic storms and floods, tethered by commitments, we tried to find a travel date but couldn’t find a day before October. I felt that given my condition […]

The Adventures Of Phileas Brain-Fogg

I wait impatiently for my brain fog to lift. I am Phileas Brain-Fogg. My mind is a tabula rasa, each day vanishing into grey smoke. The howling wind and rain outside, constantly tearing at the new planting in its determination to point out that last year’s pleasant  summer was a freakish anomaly, never lets up in […]

Dear Diary 1: I Hate Your Perfect White Pages

I expect my readers to be a little smarter than average. Dear Diary, it’s Friday August 6th, and I’ve started feeling like Joan Crawford trapped in Bette Davis’s house in ‘Whatever happened to Baby Jane?’ But at least she got to be in Santa Monica. I’m in King’s Cross. I am a prisoner. The Prisoner. […]

Press Clippings From Hell No.4

Let’s have one last blast of misery, stupidity and hypocrisy from the press clippings file. These were culled from the national press during the writing of my collection ‘Red Gloves’, and no doubt influenced the extreme bleakness of the ‘Home’ volume (it has two volumes, Tales from Home and Tales from Abroad, which is generally more upbeat). […]

Where Have You Been, What Did You Learn?

Sorry about delays and omissions in your usually fine service – I was meant to tackle various site issues but I was back in the hospital, which is not terribly conducive to posting, or for that matter thinking. One of the problems was the loss of my image bank, a collection of thousands of photos […]

Press Clippings From Hell No. 3

The sun is making a rare appearance. Covid deaths fell to zero yesterday. If you’re feeling a little happier, a bit more upbeat, this should drag you down. Another selection of gruesomely depressing news stories I gathered over the last 30 years… As the credit crunch hit home, an article appeared in The Observer about […]