London Through Other Eyes

Last weekend I played host to two friends, one from Barcelona, one from Warsaw. They asked me if I would plan ‘a Londoners’ sort of weekend’ for them. It felt like a daunting prospect; I tend to make my plans subconsciously, drifting into alignment with others as the weekend unfolds. Like most central Londoners we […]

We Need To Talk About Evan Hansen

As wary as I am of seeing shows with proven track records and pots of money to keep them in theatres past their sell-by dates (step forward ‘The Book of Mormon’), I was intrigued by ‘Dear Evan Hansen’, which clearly connects to East Coast Gen Xers in much the same way that ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ […]

Another Bizarre London Ceremony

I wrote about the ceremony of the Knollys Rose – the granting of a single red rose in return for the loss of a garden centuries ago – in a recent Bryant & May novel (I can’t remember which one) only because I stumbled upon the site while walking through the city one day. Now […]

Writing Week 5: All Change

It’s only been a short while that we’ve been woke to questions of gender and already the complaints have started from certain male critics. The BBC’s new version of ‘War of the Worlds’ has a pregnant female lead living sinfully in Woking as the Martians arrive. And why not? Wells was always a bit thin […]

Writing Week 4: The Rulebreakers

  In uncertain times we demand more rules, not fewer The history of fiction, by which I mean all fiction – I’m not interested in separating ‘literature’ from ‘genre’ – follows the growth pattern of all the arts; rules are established, traditional forms are developed, rules are broken. But something odd happened in fiction that […]

Writing Week 3: The Discipline Of Writing

Most writers can’t work consistently enough to fulfil a publisher’s needs. If you’ve ever wondered why some writers can’t get published and others can’t work fast enough, read on. Readers often tell writers how lucky they are, as if they accidentally become JK Rowling one day. There’s a generally circulated idea that writers waft about […]

Writing Week 2: A Writers’ Round Table

Me: Writing is like sex: Everyone has a different method. Raymond Carver: Get in. Get out. Don’t linger. Me: Writers are guarded and private. ‘Sharing’ is not a word I use around them. They don’t much engage in Socratic dialogue unless you count the testing-out of anecdotes. This is because the novel is always running in […]

Writing Week 1: Beware Of Public Opinion

It was not a time to be sexually frivolous. Let’s get the blog a little bit back on track this week by looking at writers and writing. In Offenbach’s ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’ the scene is set by the character of Public Opinion, and sometimes it seems as if this figure haunts all who dare to […]

No Time For Bond?

Never go back, that’s all I can say. Despite what anyone may try to convince you, James Bond films were dad films that are now granddad films. Last week I went over the old 007 movies in the light of new books coming out on this pop-cultural phenomenon, including Thunderbook, a very funny fanboy scene-by-scene […]

London’s Most Useless Information No.2

Whenever someone comes up with a fun, original thing to do, it seems as if London passes a law against it. To be fair, with such an immense number of people crammed into small winding streets I can see why hoverboards were banned, but there was a time when 1970s nightclubs held rollerblade races around […]