Monthly Archives: November 2019

Writing Week 2: A Writers’ Round Table

Me: Writing is like sex: Everyone has a different method. Raymond Carver: Get in. Get out. Don’t linger. Me: Writers are guarded and private. ‘Sharing’ is not a word I use around them. They don’t much engage in Socratic dialogue unless you count the testing-out of anecdotes. This is because the novel is always running in […]

Writing Week 1: Beware Of Public Opinion

It was not a time to be sexually frivolous. Let’s get the blog a little bit back on track this week by looking at writers and writing. In Offenbach’s ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’ the scene is set by the character of Public Opinion, and sometimes it seems as if this figure haunts all who dare to […]

No Time For Bond?

Never go back, that’s all I can say. Despite what anyone may try to convince you, James Bond films were dad films that are now granddad films. Last week I went over the old 007 movies in the light of new books coming out on this pop-cultural phenomenon, including Thunderbook, a very funny fanboy scene-by-scene […]

London’s Most Useless Information No.2

Whenever someone comes up with a fun, original thing to do, it seems as if London passes a law against it. To be fair, with such an immense number of people crammed into small winding streets I can see why hoverboards were banned, but there was a time when 1970s nightclubs held rollerblade races around […]

London’s Most Useless Information No.1

I think we’ll have a new column. To kick it off, here’s where the idea came from ten years ago on this very site… So, an age-old mystery has at last been solved. Passengers on the London Underground always stand on the right and tut in annoyance when anyone does the opposite. An old film […]

The Last Tour Of King Tut

On Sunday morning I went to the Tutankhamun exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery, where the club-footed boy king is on a last world tour before heading off to the new purpose-built Giza Museum overcooking the Great Pyramid. There, its 150 artefacts will be reunited with the items that cannot leave Egypt, like his golden death mask […]

In Which The Kindle & I Part Company

Kindle, you know how our secret shame-ridden love affair began – years ago, when I first glanced away from my beloved print books. Seduced by the sleek lines of my first reader (a Kobo, sleekish, but it was no iPhone) I began to leave my books behind on the shelf. It was the hardback ‘His […]

The Pageant Everyone Takes For Granted

Referenced in Pepys’s diaries, the Lord Mayor’s Show, London’s grand annual parade, just passed its 804th year. The procession kicked off at 11am from Mansion House with cadets, carriages, floats and bands moving through the streets. Over in Paternoster Square and St Paul’s there were funfairs, art installations and street theatre. The parade ended with […]

The Buildings We Don’t Discuss

We tend to ignore the things we don’t like. Whenever London is depicted in a tourism brochure, there are photographs of churches and palaces, guards and statues with nary a modern building in sight. A city is defined by its uniqueness, not by another anonymous glass box from Richard Rogers. The Hilton Hotel at Heathrow’s Terminal […]

‘Evening All!’

Our image of the police is now informed by riot footage as much as anything else. The humble copper has been through a lot of changes in my life so far. The earliest one I can remember is the TV show ‘Dixon of Dock Green’, which began in 1955 and ran in the UK for […]