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 […]

Creating In Dark And Light

Most of ‘A Christmas Carol’ takes place in semi-darkness or within candlelit rooms, and despite all attempts to open it out it still feels like a chamber piece. I’ve always felt that what it has, far more than seasonal redemption, is an atmosphere of death. Light is linked to mood. Between November and the end […]

Truly Scrooged

As an antidote to all those ghastly jingle-bell-ringing melodies we get at this time of the year, let’s have something a little more honest that suddenly feels apposite, given the recent situation at Gatwick Airport. I’m heading there shortly and will be descending from one chaos – planes under drone attack – to another, Barcelona […]

The Cryptic Christmas Crossword Answers (With Explanations)

    Across 1 Strange Tide 4 Seventy Seven Clocks 5 Off the Rails 7 The Memory of Blood 10 The Invisible Code 12 Ten Second Staircase 13 The Lonely Hour 14 Wild Chamber 15 Londons Glory Down 2 The Victoria Vanishes 3 White Corridor 5 On the Loose 6 The Bleeding Heart 8 The […]

The Bryant & May Cryptic Christmas Crossword

A word from Snowy and me: Time can hang heavy between forcing that last sprout down your neck and the start of the big film. Here is a little diversion to tickle up those remaining brain-cells not completely drowned in gravy. Those who don’t usually feel they can tackle a cryptic crossword should have no […]

The Good, The Bad & The Strange

At this time of the year, with dark days and long nights, I try to catch up with as many films as possible, and thought I’d pass on my personal favourites, ie. they won’t match anything Peter Bradshaw at the Guardian likes. This year there were a number of worthy, serious films about weighty issues […]

Season’s Greetings From Krakow

I thought that after the darkness of Auschwitz and Birkenau would come time for happier things. The tragedy at the Strasbourg Christmas market overshadowed that – I was in the same market two years ago, and what astounded then me is that it is the most secure market I’d ever visited, effectively being on a […]

Auschwitz: Beyond Hope

Beyond belief, but not beyond understanding The bus to Auschwitz was playing Christmas songs. An hour and a quarter out of Krakow the driver switched from Perry Como to Cliff Richard just as we passed the dark birch forest surrounding the site of the camps. It appeared like an image from old war films; the […]

‘The Lonely Hour’ Full Cover

One of the happiest experiences in my publishing life has been watching the Bryant & May covers mature and remain remarkably consistent. This is now my favourite cover of them all. If we could just repaint No.2, ‘The Water Room’ and get rid of the Simpsons I’d be even happier. Semiotically, the covers send out […]