A London Miscellany

Du Caine Court in Balham (a place readers of a certain age may find themselves pronouncing as ‘Bal-Ham’ in an American accent; somebody please explain) has more than a touch of Albert Speer about its design. Monumental, inhuman and very tidy, it supposedly acted as a guide-post for Nazi aircraft during WWII. Senate House in […]

Pride Comes Before A Party

Right, the giant flags are up around the flat (the one over the canal is particularly fetching), the helicopters are circling overhead and it’s threatening to rain – it must be London Pride then! To every one of the one million people expected in the capital today, to everyone who’s flying the flag, even Rymans […]

What, Me Worry? Not Anymore.

So after all these years MAD magazine is closing down (except for a few back-catalogue-trawling specials). Of course it was never very funny, just beautifully put together in its earliest days, with an amazing roster of artists from the greatest-ever caricaturist Mort Drucker to Frank Kelly Freas (above) and Don Martin. As the dominant English-speaking […]

Review: ‘Years And Years’ Full Series

It’s as subtle as a chucked brick but somebody needed to say this out loud, not give us another analogy. Russell T Davies is, of course, A Good Thing. He’s been a driving force for clever, touching TV drama for so long that he’s become a national treasure, but don’t think he’s gone soft. His […]

Cadiz Diary

I’m back in London, which feels hotter than Cadiz thanks to high humidity. The big surprise was finding Africa’s closest neighbour pleasantly warm by day and cold at night. The streets are striated by cross-breezes that also allow for spectacular light effects, especially when it starts to get dark at 10pm. My US friends struggled […]

It Was A Hoot

We decided to stay on a few days in Cadiz; it was cooler than London or Paris (which is apparently hotter than Death Valley). So, straight into the Sixth Extinction with Trump, Johnson and the rest of the deranged madmen now running the world. Next year, 60 other Indian cities follow Chennai into a waterless […]

Finding The Rhythm Of Words

Words can fall so perfectly on notes that you can’t tell which came first. Whenever I’m stuck on a chapter, particularly one that demands an amusing situation, I read about other writers discussing their craft, from Noel Coward or the Simpsons/Seinfeld writers to stand-ups. Recently I returned to the older end of British comedy writing. A […]

Bryant & May: New Readers Start Here

I was recently asked to summarise the Bryant & May novels in a page. This is a great exercise for authors, and allows you to develop a little perspective. Here’s what I came up with. There’s an image that always springs to mind when I start a new Bryant & May book; London office workers […]

No More Leisure Left

How much spare time do you have? Can I have some of it? Time is clearly the key commodity of the new century. We’re working shorter hours (in theory, although unpaid overtime is currently being addressed by European governments), we have more spending power (well, the US, much of Europe and 1% of the UK […]

5 Of The Best Britcoms

Not sure why this subject came up; a discussion about writers producing continuous original work perhaps, and a love of cataloguing… A flawed, difficult young woman deals with her London family and romance. ‘Fleabag’ was a game-changer (although it eventually suffered from over-hype) with writer-star Phoebe Waller-Cates breaking the fourth wall and – in a […]