Observatory

The Other Arthur Bryants

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Over two decades ago I invented a pair of detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May. But it turned out, to my surprise, that Arthur Bryant already existed. This namesake came to light because a reader pointed out the similarity, but when I discovered that Sir Arthur Wynn Morgan Bryant also spoke at my alma mater, […]

The (Un)Fashionable Author

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I’ve always been a bit of a clothes-horse; at a time when most authors were exploring the world of corduroy I was wearing Dirk Bikkenberg. It helps that I’m a boring off-the-peg size and usually find the fit I want. It becomes particularly hard for older men to find anything that doesn’t make them look […]

More Fast Food For Writers!

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Steaming into the final furlong of my new (non-Bryant & May) novel, I’m working and eating (and occasionally sleeping) at my table, and as there were a lot of Guess-The-Ingredients comments about my 3-minute salad, here are some more very fast meals you can do wherever you have access to fresh ingredients. Tuna, mint, basil, […]

There’s A Hole In My Bucket List

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You know those books, ‘101 things you should do before you die’? I never get through them. I get bored halfway. That’s the equivalent of taking a gap year and getting stuck doing bar-work in Australia in Month 4 (so I’m told; I left school on a Friday and started work on the Monday, as we […]

A Message To Millennials

Multiethnic Group of People Social Networking at Cafe

According to a series of major US surveys, teens are increasingly swearing off alcohol, cigarettes, dope and prescription painkillers. Millennials are taking their cues from their Baby Boomer folks, those born between 1946 and 1964 who are veterans of the sexual and psychedelic revolutions of the 1960s and 70s. Apparently this is to do with the new […]

Why Does Wealth Work Against Creativity?

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Latvia is not a rich country. When the city of Riga needed to move its books from the old library to the new one, on the other side of its central river, the Daugava, it came up with a novel idea. The city’s residents formed a human chain over the bridge from one library to […]

Why A Tie?

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Watching the trailer for ‘Rogue One’, the Star Wars prequel, you can’t help but be struck by the way it hits this decade’s most popular trope – the rebel girl. ‘On your own from the age of 15,’ says the commander, ‘reckless, aggressive and undisciplined,’ as if these are adequate job qualifications. ‘I rebel,’ says […]

We’re All Going On A…

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…or are we? Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly?* Londoners traditionally holiday abroad, as they don’t care to wander around Bexhill-On-Sea going ‘I can’t believe they still don’t have olive focaccia’, although a few do tiptoe off into the countryside where locals make fun of them and hotels rip them off by charging for two-night […]

Livin’ La Vida Folle

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Language – so long as you get the gist of it, that’s OK. And now that Farridge, Johnson & Gove have joined Lord Haw-Haw, Vidkun Quisling and Abu Hamza in the list of most hated males, I’m walking around London realising that almost everyone who touches my life is from somewhere else. My barber is […]

Peculiar Crimes 1

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A new semi-regular feature that reports the really odd stories you may have missed, but which may inspire ideas for fictional stories… In 1986, charity organisation United Way of Cleveland arranged a spectacular stunt for fundraising publicity: an attempt to set a new world record for simultaneously released balloons. On Public Square, a structure as large […]