Monthly Archives: May 2019

Re:View – ‘Rocketman’

Dexter Fletcher started out as an actor in blokey British gangster films and appeared in around 100 before turning director. When he was pulled in to sort out the mess of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ he once again showed his instinctive understanding of how music works. Queen never struck me as being particularly interesting or talented beyond […]

The Friday Song

I’m off to see ‘Rocketman’ tonight. I have a long history with Elton John. To me he’s like the Queen – he’s always been there in my life. The first album I bought was ‘Friends’, for which he wrote the score – and I think ‘Your Song’ came from it. The first rock concert I […]

The Battle For Readers

  The battle is to get someone to read the book. I was once on a panel seated next to a very amiable New Yorker who stacked his books in front of him as if building a sturdy store display. In every answer he gave, he inserted a lengthy sales pitch for his new book. […]

Why Victorian Tales Aren’t As Easy As They Look

You know the drill; a hansom cab clatters down a foggy cobbled street, a man in a cloak runs through the dusk-dimmed East End, someone screams bloody murder…pretty much anyone can write a basic Victorian story, so well established are the tropes. Watch an episode of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ and copy it, you can’t go wrong. […]

Puzzled In London: 2

Before… And after… This depressingly blank facade on the Strand was built to protect the original frontage of Coutts Bank which, from 1692 until the mid-1970s, was the grandest-looking of all London’s private banks. Not any more. It looks like a provincial insurance office now. At the height of the British Empire Queen Victoria stashed […]

The London You Don’t Notice

There are hundreds of books and websites covering London’s remaining curiosities but how many of the city’s mundane everyday sights do we notice? Recently I was walking down Gower Street in the rain. Grey pavements, brown bricks, hardly any trees. It’s a walk I’ve always hated, identical terraces on either side, a long, blank featureless […]

The Multiverse Of Mr Ezban

I have limited interest in the Academy Awards (in hindsight their choices are often dubious) and tend to prefer Cannes for the wealth of world cinema it chucks up each year. So I’m desperate to see this year’s winner, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Parasite’, about a poor family of tricksters who find jobs with […]

The Complete Short Stories – Update

When I wrote 25 new stories to celebrate a quarter century of writing such tales, I called the resulting double volume Red Gloves Volumes 1 and 2. They were divided into London tales and world tales. Hardly anyone saw the books because they were printed in the small press, but PS Publishing created editions that were very beautiful. […]

The Perils Of Creating A Long-Running Series

  I first noticed it when I went back to check on a character’s name in ‘The Memory of Blood’, Book 9 in what looks like becoming a 20-volume series. One of the characters was using a Blackberry. As far as I know they’re long gone; nothing dates faster than technology. Then a Fax machine […]

Weird & Wonderful London 5

This was taken in 1933 but feels a century older. The villagers are receiving their Maundy peas – 20 bushels of peas and 2 bushels of wheat were given to the poor of the parish every Maundy Thursday, in a ritual dating back to 1572. Maundy money is still handed out today at a service, […]