Monthly Archives: December 2016

Lucifer’s Writers

What do the following names have in common? Winston Churchill, Raymond Chandler, John Lennon, Muriel Spark, JB Priestley, Bram Stoker, F Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Daphne Du Maurier, Noel Coward, HG Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson. Answer: They all wrote short stories. Some were macabre and fantastical, some involved detectives or ghosts, some were pulpy and […]

Sleeping On The Job

This week I was thinking about our working days. I’d read that UK students had voted to install sleep pods, and that in the US workers are not compensated if Christmas Day falls on a weekend. It has also been announced that the siesta, treasured central plank of Latin countries’ economic plan, is to be removed […]

Don’t Trust Anyone Who Doesn’t Like Shakespeare

At this time of the year I try to do something for myself that conjures the spirit of Christmases past. This year, it was a double bill of ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ and ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ in Edwardian finery, relocated on either side of the Great War in an English country house, based on Charlecote Park near […]


My friend Michele sent this from French web-comic Cyprien (what is it with the single names in Europe?) for anyone who has felt left out by advancing technology.

Peter Cushing: Not Forgotten – And Not Gone

The first big shock I got watching ‘Rogue One’ was how much better it was than the last Star Wars film, a piece of forgettable fan service masquerading as a movie. But then, this supposedly stand-alone adventure is from Gareth ‘Monsters’ Edwards, a British director who already has great form. The second was realising that […]

Now Is The Winter Of Our…You Know

At dinner with my neighbours last night, film director Mike Figgis told me that he reads five newspapers each morning and it’s a habit that is now taking its toll – I know what he means; between the hungry children of Aleppo and the billionaires’ club of Trump the end of this annus horribilis feels […]

Our Hidden Lives

Okay, so Post-Brexit is shaping up to be horrible, but if you think you’re about to have it bad, maybe you should look back to Post-War. The anthropologist Tom Harrison returned from the South Pacific after looking for cannibals, and reached a startling conclusion; remote tribes were less interesting than the people of Bolton, where […]

The Problem With ‘Snowden’

I would like to think of myself as one of Churchill’s children, imbued with a fundamental knowledge of what is required to be a decent, moral person. It puts me on the side of Edward Snowden, and this past week I’ve become fascinated by the backlash against Oliver Stone’s film about him. In the UK […]

‘Strange Tide’ US-Style Is Out Today!

‘Is there anyone else in the crime genre currently writing anything as entertainingly off-the-wall as Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May series? Fowler eschews all recognisable genres, though the cases for his detective duo have resonances of the darker corners of British Golden Age fiction. And if you aren’t already an aficionado – and have a […]

Hygge 3: Victorian-Style

It’s been said that when future generations look back at this time the British will still be considered Victorians rather than New Elizabethans, as we were called at school. It’s not hard to see why. Elizabeth II’s monarchy has had very little connection with the political parties compared to Victoria’s. The majority of our city […]