Monthly Archives: August 2012


Yes, it’s ‘The Maniacal Laugh’ mixtape, to be played whenever you’re feeling a bit fed up, like when your MS has just been rejected or you realise it’s going to be winter again without having passed through summer.

Weird Things Customers Say In Bookshops

This is the title of a book culled from a website by Jen Campbell, and is the kind of slim volume you find beside the till – but it’s also a testament to the patience and resourcefulness of put-upon booksellers when faced with the utter idiocy of customers whose reading is limited to Jeremy Clarkson […]

Still More London Books

This month I limited myself to just three London book purchases as there are suddenly a drillion new titles out there. First up is ‘Another London’, a wonderful collection of highly evocative photographs taken between 1930 and 1980, largely featuring ‘outsiders’ – street life, ethnic residents, the elderly, the poor, priced £16.99. Then there’s ‘London […]

Pubs: A Boy Thing?

The BFI has released a double DVD set called ‘Roll Out the Barrel: the British pub on film’, a collection of 20 films about British pubs made between 1944 and 1982. From wartime documentaries intended to keep up flagging spirits to independent productions exploring the permissive society of the 1960s, the five-hour collection reveals cultural […]

Magical Reading

Solaris, the risk-taking publishing house that brought you the eerie underground anthology ‘The End of the Line’ and the haunted house collection ‘The House of Fear’ are about to make it a hat-trick with ‘Magic’, a new collection of startling stories with unusual magical elements. Inside you’ll find; The Wrong Fairy by Audrey Niffenegger If […]

Standing On Ceremony

My friend Antony Clayton has an excellent book out called ‘The Folklore of London’, the purchase of which coincided neatly with my friend Jan sending me a list of London ceremonies, many of which I’d never heard of. What happens at the Verdict & Pyx Luncheon? Knolly’s Rose ceremony? The Widow’s Buns Ceremony? (Easy, grandma) […]

Story Tricks: No. 1 – Planting Plums

This is a new occasional series for both readers and budding writers, about some of the tricks that can be used to improve stories. This one’s a classic. Oddly enough, it’s use has been made much easier since the advent of computers, because you can go back and revise manuscripts accordingly. It involves the planting […]

This Week’s Question

This comes courtesy of Matt over at The Londonist (whose site I urge you to check out), in an article about whether London actually exists. So, which part of London is considered an ‘extra-parchial area’ and is not actually in it?

Bring On The Roast Potatoes!

I’m on my way to Greece right now, so here’s Julia Child reminding us about roast potatoes, thanks to some great editing and an auto tuner, and my friend Jennifer, who found it on YouTube.

London, The Modern Babylon

Rightly or wrongly, Julien Temple is best known for ‘The Great Rock and Roll Swindle’, his wild-child Sex Pistols movie, and the studio-destroying flop ‘Absolute Beginners’. His scattergun approach to pop culture stands him in good stead, however, for his two hour epic ‘London – The Modern Babylon’, which was shown on the BBC last […]