When The Past Comes Down

Here the wearing of a mask is not a political act (Today’s diatribe was inspired by watching statues toppled in Bristol and on university campuses.) Growing up in Greenwich, South London, I would walk past the statue of General James Wolfe without even noticing it. So many ubiquitous statues of lauded military figures had been […]

The Thread Of The Tapestry

In every magazine about writing the question comes up with dispiriting regularity; where do you get your ideas from? And every answer must be different. For me it’s not a spark, an image or a snippet of dialogue that sets me off on the trail of a new story. It’s a twist of thread with […]

The Book Keeping Test

When I was a child I believed that all books had to be read to the end. I’m surprised that this determination to plough on with, say, ‘Travels on a Donkey’ didn’t put me off reading for life. Now I keep a living library built on a one-out-one-in basis because I don’t have room for […]

The Lockdown Library Is Now Closing

As our poll-obsessed premier continues to loosen Lockdown I find my own fate inextricably blurred with the pandemic. After testing clear for COVID last week I am now venturing out on sorties (one to a vast, deserted supermarket, one to the canal and back), each a minor stroll, now both like climbing the North face […]

Alien Territory Part 5

Five parts is enough for any blog article, so let’s put this baby to bed. With nowhere to go except Earth (something only audiences expressed a desire to see) the Alien franchise now did what it always did – it shifted gear into an unexpected direction. For the fifth film, out went Sigourney Weaver and […]

Alien Territory Part 4

It should have died, but the studio cattle-prod had been charged and was now attempting to fire life back into a dead franchise. Ripley was definitively gone, but Sigourney Weaver was still up for the role, having moved from ingenue in tighty-whiteys to grieving mother to bald warrior-queen – how could she come back? Molten […]

Alien Territory Part 3

And so the drop ship roars into the problem zone of the third Alien film, in a tangled situation entirely created by Fox’s suits. The crowd-pleasing ‘Aliens’ had proven such a massive success that the franchise was now cursed with too-high expectations. You couldn’t go bigger, but could you scale it back? Our company had […]

Alien Territory Part 2

For many, director James Cameron destroyed the ‘Alien’ franchise. It was inevitable that a film as successful as ‘Alien’ would continue in a sequel, a series of comics, videogames and even toys. Cameron supposedly killed the golden goose by giving everyone exactly what they wanted to see; a full-throttle action film which did away with the […]

Alien Territory Part 1

In a month of dire warnings about Russian spies, Chinese viruses, American fascism, global heating (six months left to fix it, apparently, which means the planet is doomed before I can get tickets for the National Theatre again) watching say, ‘The Salisbury Poisonings’ or reading Cormac McCarthy seems like a little light entertainment. Meanwhile, scientists […]

Splitters!

Are authors allowed to talk about anything other than their creations? JK Rowling was absolutely right to make public her argument that untransitioned males should not have full female rights. In time-honoured fashion she laid out her thoughts clearly, humanely and fairly in an essay which has now made her the target of ill-informed criticism […]