Observatory

When Trendy Travel Agencies Go Mad

As a relatively seasoned traveller with at least a modicum of eco-awareness, I try to visit places where locals might benefit from my tourist bucks. Travel agents know that I occasionally want to sit in the sun far away from crowds and think up plots for novels, and I’m prepared to try somewhere new. However, […]

Actor Speaks In Tongues

Ian Hart, who is appearing in the West End play ‘Speaking In Tongues’, left the stage and shouted at an overenthusiastic member of the audience last night. It’s something no actor ever does in London, no matter how bad it gets. Now the audience member is threatening to sue for damages because he was made […]

Your Christmas Movies 2

It’s time we added some other movies to the Christmas Comfort list. How about A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Barbarella (come on, it’s pretty tame now and it has a snow scene), Tim Burton’s second Batman with the Penguin, the Dino De Laurentiis King Kong? Personally I’d choose A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas […]

Has New York Lost Its Cool?

There’s a row brewing on the internet and in the press about New York’s high prices driving out its creative types. The New York Times says: “The sudden downturn has affected the very industries that give New York its identity — finance, media, advertising, real estate, even tourism — with real prejudice. The result is […]

No More Money For Old Rope

This is a sad story. The legendary Indian rope trick is supposed to be a myth – the version of the story most commonly told has a young boy ascending the rope, only to vanish. The magician calls after the boy and, receiving no response, angrily climbs the rope himself. After he too vanishes, pieces […]

It Makes You Proud To Be English

Britain’s aspirations to become a spacefaring nation have inched closer as a bunch of worms from a Bristol rubbish dump boarded the Atlantis space shuttle at Cape Canaveral for a mission to a $100bn international space station. They will be studied in its weightless confines as research for scientists to explain how astronauts build and […]

A Writer’s Life 2: What Do You Do All Day?

Why not be a writer? Because writing is not plumbing, you idiots! You can’t be taught it unless there’s already a natural propensity for it. I always had a day job, but two years ago I was finally in a position to switch to full-time writing from home. The changeover was easier than I’d been […]

A Writer’s Life 1: The Oldest Question In The Book

This is an occasional series about the problems of writing full time. My photo shows the factory in China where they make Dr Who dolls. To a publisher, this is a very exciting picture. After all, it’s the world’s longest running SF series and has spawned a zillion spinoffs. Nobody remembers Sydney Newman, the drama […]

A Christmas Carol: Ghost Or Horror Story?

Judging by the new version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, it’s a horror story. Once again, director Robert Zemeckis has opted for motion capture or performance capture as it now seems to be called, providing viewers with creepy Madame Tussauds-style mannequins instead of actors. The dead eyes and exaggerated features recall victorian caricatures, but the […]

Everyone Wants To Be A Teen Again

In a depression the population turns to the movies, but this downturn is regressing us all to childhood, says today’s Times. The hot high-end fashion items are bunny ears and dinosaur-shaped handbags, the hot date movies are Up and The Fantastic Mr Fox, the hot screen icon is teenage vampire Robert Pattinson, adults are watching […]