New Political Cinema: ‘The Front Runner’

‘The Front Runner’ marks a boundary change in political reporting. In the seventies, Hollywood went into politics – at least the Left did, and there’s a fine legacy headed by the endlessly rewatchable ‘All the President’s Men’. Political tales make for fine drama although there’s a tendency to turn them into satires like ‘Wag The Dog’, […]

London Buildings: The Talk Of The Town

On the corner of Charing Cross Road and Leicester Square (actually Cranbourn St) an overbearing and rather ugly venue was built at the turn of the 19th century to be used for circus performers and variety acts. In the very first variety show Little Tich and Charlie Chaplin appeared – it was always to feature […]

Tricky New Year London Quiz Answers

Here are the answers to eleven odd questions about London/ 1. On which London monument do pearls turn to diamonds, and why is it turning blue? Big Ben. On the background design of its faces, working outwards. When it’s finished being renovated its hands will be blue, as they once were. 2. There’s a man-eating […]

The Tricky New Year London Quiz!

Okay, ten tricky questions about London, and as it’s the new year I’m prepared to be flexible with the answers, which will arrive here tomorrow. On your marks… 1  On which London monument do pearls turn to diamonds, and why is it turning blue? 2. There’s a man-eating tiger in Knightsbridge. Where is it? 3. […]

Best & Worst Films Of 2018

Let’s have a somewhat quirky look at the year’s films, with one cavil: Due to the odd way I watch movies, through screenings and previews, I’m never quite sure what comes out when. But here are a few that left their mark on me this year, and not always in a good way. The Favourite […]

You Think This Was The First Bad Year?

2018? Pah, that was nothing. 1974 was the year that really sucked. In 1974 the top US songs were The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand and Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks. In the UK it was the time of the Bay City Rollers and Slade. In the bigger picture we had Nixon and Watergate, the fallout […]

My 10 Best Pieces Of Writing Advice For 2019

Every year teaches me something new about the writing trade. I feel guilty that I have few discernible skills other than being a writer and being able to draw a bit (I’ve tried learning everything from windsurfing to piano and failed) but here at least I can offer a few words of advice to writers […]

Don’t Tell Them Everything

Good books have an inner life; you can’t see all the way in. The pages become windows that throw light onto landscapes and into rooms, but keep some secrets hidden from view. Perhaps they reveal more at second glance – perhaps they leave the reader to deduce more. The reader certainly doesn’t need to know […]

Looking Back At 2018: Part 2

To answer a reader’s question, this blog is different to usual writers’ blogs because I planned it to resemble a mash-up between John Julius Norwich’s ‘Miscellany’ books, which he assembled from snippets of interest, and ‘Picture Book’, the old children’s TV show, the idea being that you’d never know what you were going to get. Here […]

Looking Back At 2018: Part 1

Glancing back over the past year, I’m amazed how many subjects we’ve dipped into, and the range of our conversations. Here are a few quotes from the blog in the first half of the year. And this is without starting on readers’ comments! January From ‘Sublime Moments’: ‘When watching stories on film. I live for […]