My Father (Part 1)

A year or so ago I wrote a column for the Guardian about my father. It expanded on a piece I had written for my first memoir, and after it came out I received a lot of mail about the piece, so it clearly touched a nerve. I’ve not run it here before. The first […]

As Cassandra Was Saying…

Hardly anyone remembers his name now, but William Connor was once such a beloved figure and national treasure that he was knighted. He was a columnist for the Daily Mirror who wrote under a more familiar name: Cassandra. Known for concision and clarity, he wrote for the everyman. Famously his articles were cancelled during WWII, […]

Those Eighties Movies

Further to the Ferris Bueller post I got to thinking about our mindset in that strange time. Creeping in around this time, at the first wave of corporate excess, came a cruel racism that manifested itself in characters like Andrew Dice Clay, who I remember referred to immigrants as ‘the urine-coloured people’. John Hughes’ movies […]

Rewatch: ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’

Today I’m in Somerset. There’s a crisp blue sky. I’m not starting the thriller for a week. I’m going for lunch with friends. What could make the day more perfect? How about a song? I rewatched ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ last night and it’s changed. Here’s how. 1. It’s very slow and a bit hammy. […]

Incoming!

Sally, my PA, says it’s now officially autumn in London. I’m not buying this, as I’ve yet to have my summer holiday (I go next week, off to try some refreshing wines in the delightful vineyards of the Spanish countryside). London is glorious at the moment, fecund and lush and warm, but soon will come […]

Lurid: The New Way Of Looking At Things

I’ve often wondered, when seeing a particularly raunchy film, a daring play or an exhibition, ‘Where can things go from here?’ It’s not a question of censorship; more one of taste. We live in tasteless times. Trump looks like a bright orange clown, UK politicians run from an albino clown, Lord Snooty, Catweazle and Farridge, […]

Goodbye, Neil Simon

Writers fade from fashion, nowhere more than in the field of playwriting. Neil Simon was one of the first playwrights I read from the printed page because the wonderful Samuel French bookshop, late of Fitzrovia and Covent Garden, stocked their own editions of play scripts (and still do, here). Simon delighted in putting his characters […]

A Man Walks Into A Bar

After posting a piece complaining that London is hardly a 24-hour city, there were a lot of comments, one from Emma at 24HourLondon pointing out that their app would locate around-the-clock London hotspots. A neat idea – except that the first three places I picked were all shut. ‘Round the clock’ appears to mean ‘Open […]

Have Your Say On Bryant & May No.19

Much to my surprise, the Bryant & May books are only up to their sixteenth volume. The hardback graphic novel isn’t part of the canon, and at any given time I’m two years ahead of you lot, so I sometimes lose my place. With the seventeenth volume currently going through the editing process and a […]

London Myths No.3 – Londoners Are Unfriendly

Americans in London, always friendly, always effusive, make me feel ashamed of our perceived stand-offishness. Once again we have the war to blame for a massive change in social interaction. The class barriers were ironclad before 1939, and if they didn’t exactly disappear after 1945 a new informal friendliness certainly came in. The land-owning gentry […]