Movie Hells

I saw two movies this weekend, ‘2012’, a film of almost surreal stupidity in which a skimpily-clad girl discusses her boob job while walking through post apocalyptic Tibet, and the fate of the whole of India is deemed less important than saving a dog. And this, ’13: Game Of Death’, a ‘What would you do?’ […]

A Writer’s Life 2: What Do You Do All Day?

Why not be a writer? Because writing is not plumbing, you idiots! You can’t be taught it unless there’s already a natural propensity for it. I always had a day job, but two years ago I was finally in a position to switch to full-time writing from home. The changeover was easier than I’d been […]

A Writer’s Life 1: The Oldest Question In The Book

This is an occasional series about the problems of writing full time. My photo shows the factory in China where they make Dr Who dolls. To a publisher, this is a very exciting picture. After all, it’s the world’s longest running SF series and has spawned a zillion spinoffs. Nobody remembers Sydney Newman, the drama […]

London’s Most Eccentric Pubs: The Windsor Castle

No picture does justice to this bonkers boozer just off Baker Street. Every inch is crammed with framed photographs of royals and celebrities (if you can remember back far enough to count Dickie Henderson as a celebrity). There’s a shrine to George Best, glass cabinets and enough fairings to fill every gift shop in Blackpool. […]

The Great Secondhand Bookshops Of London

Secondhand bookshops are dying out, and will eventually be killed by Kindly-type eReaders (I’ve had Stanza on my phone for months and can barely get beyond a few pages – why? I read at home, not on trains, so a book is easier). Anyway, Chris Overbury runs these two bookstore gems, one in East Finchley, […]

The Cruelties Of History

This is a scene from ‘John Rabe’, an extraordinary big budget German production which had those of us who saw it in floods of tears. It’s the true account of a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese lives during the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38, an event which the Japanese still deny the scale […]

The Smuggler With Nerves Of Steel

Here’s something to make any arachnophobe shudder. A British pet shop owner has been caught attempting to smuggle one thousand tarantulas out of Brazil in his suitcases. He was caught after the X-Ray machine operator noticed ‘something suspicious’ – that’ll be the wriggling, crawling, seething nightmare in his bag instead of socks and a laptop, […]

Try An Old Bird This Christmas

Blimey! Dame Vera Lynn (born in East Ham, 1917) is set to top the charts this holiday season, thanks in part to the forces in Afghanistan reminding everyone that she was raising morale (and money) in World War II. But Dame Shirley Bassey should also have an unexpected hit with a pretty astonishing new album […]

The West End In Your Living Room

Finally, London’s West End is dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. You can now download theatre productions – it’s a new officially sanctioned site, and although the selection is small at the moment, it’s set to grow. The idea is to create a library of the best productions, with multiple camera angles shooting […]

A Christmas Carol: Ghost Or Horror Story?

Judging by the new version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, it’s a horror story. Once again, director Robert Zemeckis has opted for motion capture or performance capture as it now seems to be called, providing viewers with creepy Madame Tussauds-style mannequins instead of actors. The dead eyes and exaggerated features recall victorian caricatures, but the […]