Hidden On The Top Shelf…

My parents owned a forbidden book. I could see it from where I sat in the little reading chair they had bought me for my seventh birthday. On the top shelf of the bookcase was a massive brick with a heavy-looking matt-black canvas cover. The title was printed in silver and was too small to […]

Total Midnight

My monster in a box was meant to have been locked away with the lid nailed down by now. What seemed like a grand idea may become (to mix metaphors) my albatross. The box contains just about every published story I’ve ever written, some revised into definitive versions, minus a handful I didn’t deem good […]

The Unfashionability of JB Priestley

An author bullied out of print by the arrogance of the intelligentsia. When I asked if my mother wanted something to read, she instantly requested JB Priestley. ‘The plays?’ I asked. ‘Of course not,’ she replied testily, ‘the novels.’ John Boynton Priestley is mainly known for his theatre work, but Priestley was remembered to an […]

The Lockdown Diaries 10: The Most Intriguing Paradoxes

The UK government’s hilarious mail-out warning the nation’s at-risk population to shield – ie. lock themselves in an oubliette and throw away the key, is doubtless falling on deaf ears. It’s the latest ‘most intriguing paradox’ worthy of WS Gilbert; you’re at risk if you have an underlying condition. If the condition requires you to […]

The Lockdown Diaries 9: Chemo Lad VS The World

See Someone FFS! The purpose of coming out about cancer was to dispel some of the fears people might have about getting a diagnosis at this time. Everyone’s experience is different just as symptoms and treatments are different, but the crucial thing is to stop worrying about a nebulous ‘thing’ and get diagnosed as fast as […]

The Lockdown Diaries 8: Does Everything Look Different Now?

This endless talk of disease provides all sorts of ways to frighten yourself. I’m now avoiding bar charts inaccurately comparing countries and infection rates. I foolishly thought the balm of fiction would help. Stephen Soderberg’s ‘Contagion’ is back topping the charts at Netflix. The kaleidoscopic star-filled biography of a virus told in passing days from Day […]

The Lockdown Diaries 7: Unwell? This Is Why You Must Come Forward

People with suspected conditions are not coming forward for treatment because they are now frightened of hospitals, despite doctors urging them to seek attention. This post is for them. In March I found myself propelled into a situation more serious than facing a virus – overnight I managed to hit the ‘Extreme Risk’ register on four separate […]

VE Day With Bryant & May

Seventy five years ago, my mother Kath was working as a secretary in Clerkenwell when the nation celebrated the unconditional surrender of the Nazis.  Winston Churchill tempered the celebrations by pointing out that Japan had not surrendered – a situation that was to change three months later with the horrific war crimes perpetrated on Hiroshima […]

How Do You Prefer Your London?

Real or imaginary? In my head there’s another London where every fictional character from every London book and film lives. In this London the Droogs still maraud through Thamesmead, Mr Sloane strokes his tanned torso beside the Oasis pool, the sinister Professor Marcus knocks on a door in King’s Cross, Henry Earlforward destroys his marriage […]

Mr Fowler’s London Writing Talk Part 2

This is the conclusion of my little talk on London writing. Let’s move on 250 years. At the start of ‘Bleak House’, Charles Dickens famously points out that there is so much mud in the streets that it would not be surprising to meet a forty-foot Megalosaurus ‘waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn-Hill’, and […]