Monthly Archives: January 2017

How Much Research Is Too Much?

I remember reading Dorothy L Sayers’ ‘The Nine Tailors’ and thinking, ‘Ms Sayers has definitely fallen into the research trap.’ The murder mystery requires a knowledge of campanology (bell-ringing), and is crucial the plot (there’s a cypher connected to change-ringing, and someone is deafened to death by bells) and although it’s a great novel she […]

My Best & Worst 2016 Films

2016 was the year that movie scripts full of self-referential crudity finally reached Peak Ironic and burned themselves out, thank goodness. Now perhaps we can go back to good stories, well told. Let’s have no more business success stories or B-team superheroes. I also hope we’ve seen the last of a very tired trope, the […]

‘Strange Tide’ Appears In US

‘Strange Tide’ just came out in America (the books are running a little behind the UK) and the reviews have been terrific. As I’m at home with a gruesome cold, this is a great lift for me. This just came in from the New York Journal of Books; Due to the ineptness of captain and […]

That Trump Hair Explanation In Full

From universal laughing stock to ‘short-fingered vulgarian’ (cf Spy magazine) to golf course bully to Tweet-narcissist, you couldn’t make up Donald Trump because nobody would believe you. With Toad (Boris Johnson) and Ratty (Nigel Farage) now creeping around him looking for crumbs from the table the story’s twists become increasingly surreal. But you know all […]

The Founder

There’s a good reason why Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ remains such a touchstone in the American psyche. The national ambition is to sell big (Britain, let’s remember, was accused of being ‘a nation of shopkeepers). In ‘The Founder’ Michael Keaton plays Ray Krok, the desperate salesman who goes from flogging milkshake machines to […]

On The Move Again

  London’s winter has been frosty and blazingly azure-skied this winter, and although in my flat it felt and looked like midsummer (no danger of getting SAD there), there was no snow. After a couple of days back in Tallinn, Estonia I rediscovered snow along with the charm of the people, the food, the atmosphere, […]

How Low Can You Go?

I’m back in Tallinn, Estonia, for the weekend, where it’s currently about, oh, -15C. Tallinn’s old town is not just graceful and evocative of old paintings but f*cking cold, in a ‘bite-your-fingers-off-and-my-God-I-can’t-feel-my-face’ way. My pants are frozen. My iPhone has packed up. Everyone is in furs, although there’s a guy on the corner in shirt […]

On Invisibility

Writers tend to be prickly outsiders, because if they’re any good they work so many long hours alone that they often lose their social skills. But paradoxically we need to connect with our readers, and lose this connection at one peril. My old boss, a great mentor, told me, ‘If five million people are interested […]

Why ‘2001’ Still Rules SF

  There’s a problem with most filmed science fiction. It’s just surfaced again in the flawed but enjoyable Chris Pratt/ Jennifer Lawrence starrer ‘Passengers’ and it’s this; most SF films are about earthly, human situations with the words ‘in space’ added. Outland = Cop chases villains – in space. Alien = People fight beast – […]

Another Part of Britain Plans To Split

They could be anywhere this winter, these fifth columnists. You have to remember that they look like us, all warm and liberal in their patterned ‘hygge’ woollen gloves and trendy sneakers, until you find out that they voted Brexit. Or worse. At a dinner party the other night we were told of friends whose children […]