Keith Waterhouse

The Enemy Of The Comma

The Ending Soars into Very English Tragedy ‘A novel from the author of several previous books,’ said the Amazon logline about ‘Jubb’, one of Keith Waterhouse’s astonishing black comedies. Was there ever a less appealing biography? I’m not sure I want to live in a world where ‘bibulous hack’ Waterhouse is out of print. His […]

The Opposite Of Darkness

I love early mornings because they offer the possibility of adventure. We are told that there are no adventures to be had right now, and that we live in testing times. Are we really? We live longer and better than anyone before us. This weekend I walked through Abney Park Cemetery, the maze-like burial ground […]

Six Strange Summer Reads

It’s the time of year when every newspaper gives us a list of summer reads, books selected – sometimes with the publishers’ collusion – to appeal to its particular demographic, so romances in Tuscan villas for the Sunday Times, and First World War exploits for the Telegraph. There are plenty of good reads around this […]

Our Friends In The North

You know the North, it’s where all the bad people live. ‘Winter is Coming’. France is stuck with Brittany, Spain with the Basques. But whisper the heresy…in England it’s not actually very grim up North. The weather yes, obviously, but it seems to me that many Northern writers got stuck with a hometown tag they […]

Who Wants To Read About Work, Work, Work?

This week saw the death of Frank William Huline Dickens, creator of Bristol, a cartoon strip which ran for 41 years in the Evening Standard – a world record. Bristol was a little everyman at a desk, working for a vast faceless corporation. The character successfully transferred to stage, radio and TV, with Freddie Jones […]

Southern Jessies: Try Going North!

A grim statistic surfaced in the press this week; for every 12 new jobs created in the South, there’s 1 job lost in the North of England. This is after a much-fanfared promise of devolution to city regions which proved such a hot topic in national and local government, when chancellor George Osborne set out […]

Do You Really Need To See The Author’s Mugshot?

Writers are a bunch of scruffbags. You should see us gathered together in a pub or restaurant – we look like tramps sheltering from the rain. The underrated, wonderful novelist Keith Waterhouse once said; ‘I have not looked in a mirror for the last forty years.’ And what’s going on with George R R Martin […]

Our Friends In The North

Being a Londoner, this blog inevitably gets Londoncentric, but I have a great affinity with the North. Londoners trot out lazy, obvious prejudices about much of the North, forgetting that it was the great Victorian driver of international commerce, through industries like wool, shipbuilding, steel, coal and china. Every major city had grand civic buildings […]

London: City of Dank

The new building in my street has already turned green. Moss covers the stonework, and hardy, invasive Buddleia bushes are once more sprouting from drain-fed brickwork. There’s no getting away from it; apart from a few bright spring days and a few corresponding crisp ones in the autumn, London is dank. The morning mists rise, […]

Looking For The Funniest English Book Ever Written Part 1

Setting aside the aforementioned PG Wodehouse, who really deserves his own special shelf, I spent an idle moment searching my bookcases for the single volume I found the funniest. In this I was purely considering its comedy value, not social comment. I came up with this batch. Obviously ‘Vile Bodies’ by Evelyn Waugh is a […]