Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Victorians Are Coming!

Victorians, don’t you love ’em? Empire builders, explorers, domineering Christians, closet cases, don’t you sneakingly miss them just a little bit? Well, Victorian times are coming back. First comes the news that rickets, the bendy-legged disease cause by a lack of Vitamin D and no sunlight, is making a return in Britain due to the […]

Bedouin & Breakfast

After several days without a hot wash or a shave, how typical that I should first hunt down a internet connection before cleaning myself up, and lo, here it is in the Oman transit Lounge. I have been fantasising about electric lights and running water. Having stayed with our charming Bedouin tribe (who took a […]

The Last Post

That’s it, you lot. I’m burned out, saddle sore and totally cream-crackered. Tired of snow, sleet, slush and gritting dramas. I’m going to the place in the picture above. I’m Going Where The Sun Shines Brightly (see what I did there?)* There is a good chance that I will fail to find a Wi Fi […]

Blessed Are The Listmakers

…for they shall appear in January newspapers. In that spirit, here are a few things I liked from last year. Films With The Words ‘District’ Or ‘Nine’ In District 9 District 13: Ultimatum Nine Horror/ Fantasy Films Let The Right One In Franklyn Triangle Zombieland Orphan (for that twist) Moon The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus […]

George Eliot Went To Thailand

Actually, she went twice. Charlotte Bronte went to Barbados. Laurence Sterne spent a couple of weeks in Majorca. And I spent a wet weekend with Alan Hollinghurst in Brighton, but he ended up in the dustbin. They’re all authors I’ve dragged away with me on holiday (purely in book form, you understand) who have come […]

Apart From That, How Did You Like The Play?

I’m a pretty easy-going guy. I don’t mind kids squirming in their cinema seats or people arriving late at the theatre. But there’s been a sea-change in london behaviour lately that’s starting to bug me. Last night I sat through the first half of an arthritic, arch and dismally unfunny new play called ‘The Little […]

The Power Of Popular Fiction

The major national book awards tend to be given to novels that can change the way we see the world – quite rightly so – but they’re often novels that the vast majority of readers don’t buy. Such is the demographic skew of the top reads that, if they’re making a powerful political point, it’s […]


Here’s the original Dutch commercial which you might already have seen, followed by the Bavaria beer parody of it, and a new version. Sweet.

Treasure In A Timetable

It’s the kind of story I spend my life making up. In the late 1970s, a North London book dealer sold a box of second-hand books cheaply. Among them was a boring railway timetable no-one had bothered to leaf through. If they had, they’d have found it contained eight etchings produced by William Blake at […]

Back From The Dead

When I was a kid I collected the Pan Books of Horror. They represented the cutting edge of dark fiction, featured a roll-call of horror greats and were hugely popular – so popular that they ran to thirty volumes. I collected them all, and in certain ways they helped to shape my reading. What I […]