Monthly Archives: January 2009

Fear The Baby Cake

The chef in my partner’s office kindly baked a cake for a woman about to go on maternity leave. Apart from being terrifyingly enormous, it appears to be dripping blood from its fingers and toes, and presumably does not look too attractive with several slices sawn out of its head. For more disturbing habits of […]

Read This!

Something has gone wonderfully wrong with British book awards this year. It seems that the winners and nominees are being chosen not just by subject, craft and style but by readability. For the first time in years I romped through the Man Booker prizewinner. ‘White Tiger’ by Avarind Adiga, is a thrilling, almost pulpy choice […]

Under The Hammer

Oh how the mighty have fallen! Hammer horror films formed the basis of my demented childhood (as you will hopefully discover when you hurl yourselves into the shops – or online for our US readers – to purchase my fine memoir ‘Paperboy’). This is the headquarters in which Hammer was housed for so long, in […]

Bits of London that look like Holland

This is somewhere behind Columbia Road, in the only part of East London where you can find a parking space on a Sunday morning. You try carrying a potted palm from Columbia Road market back to the car in sub-zero temperatures.

Happy New Year Of The Ox…

The Chinese dragon charging up and down Gerrard Street in central London yesterday reminded me that it’s Chinese New Year, so Happy New Year to any Chinese readers here.


British public information films like ‘How To Make A Cup Of Tea’ (elsewhere on this site), with their strangely hypnotised casts and statements of the bleeding obvious, are a great source of entertainment, but this one, ‘Unwanted Guests’, must have scared the bejabbers out of audiences when projected on a big screen. Listen out also […]

London House Secrets Revealed

I’ve just finished reading this: ‘A Lust For Window Sills’ by Harry Mount is an enjoyable romp through British architecture. Along the way, Mount explains why spiral staircases only ever go up clockwise, why the English place their living room doors in corners, why in London your back garden is likely to be lower than […]

London On Film

First in an occasional series. Noel Coward’s 1944 crowd-pleaser ‘This Happy Breed’, the story of a London house and the family who lived in it between the wars, was apparently filmed at number 53, Alderbrook Place near Clapham South tube station, but I can find no such road existing today. And in ‘The Ladykillers’, Mrs […]

New ‘Forgotten Authors’

I’ve just added a number of new ‘Forgotten Authors’ columns – see right.

Race Relations

Whenever I start a new collection of short stories, I keep a timeline of events so that I can contextualise the writing a little. This week, it was revealed that 1 in 10 children in Britain now lives in a mixed-race family, with mixed-race relationships so common that traditionally distinct ethnic groupings will soon disappear […]