Monthly Archives: March 2020

Whatever Happened To The Village Of Marylebone?

I was about to wrap up my potato peelings in a copy of the Financial Times when I caught sight of an article about the former London village of Marylebone. Reading it made me feel genuinely revolted. Marylebone is an ancient area that gets its name from a church dedicated to St Mary, built on the bank […]

The Horror Story Is Dead: Official

If you made a list of your reading influences from the age of eight to eighteen, what would they be? Partly because we didn’t have any kids’ books at home, mine reading included the simpler Dickens and Shakespeare tales (thankfully introduced to me at an early age), Mervyn Peake, Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, Robert Louis […]

The Marvellous Mr Moore

Brian Moore is my kind of writer, unplaceable, thoughtful, readable, moving. The Irish-Canadian novelist and scriptwriter wrote a number of haunting short novels (some 20 in all) often concerning life in Northern Ireland, exploring the Troubles and the Blitz. Born into a family of nine children in Belfast, 1921, he rejected Catholicism and explained his […]

Press Could Have Risen To Occasion; Sinks Lower Instead

Over the last few days, to my mind one of the biggest disappointments has been the behaviour of the fourth estate. In a classic illustration of the Frog and the Scorpion fable, the British press, given a shining opportunity to show excellence and grow by informing and leading, turned tail and crept back into its […]

Bulletin From A Hot Zone

The ramping of Covid-19 from mild flu to pandemic killing machine has taken a while in the UK, which was complacent after relatively few deaths and the national trait of bolshiness that encouraged street socialising. I suspect the PM’s rather eerie ‘Not Quite A Lockdown’ speech has a hidden agenda. Since it is hopelessly unenforceable […]

Not Stir Crazy Yet

It’s been a weird week for me, because far from seeing nobody I’ve seen more people than ever thanks to doctors, tests and hospital visits in the middle of a national shutdown. Suffice it to say, bad timing of the very worst order, but I shall deal with it. We shall speak of this no […]

Two Cheers For Publication Day!

‘The Lonely Hour’, Bryant & May’s latest murder mystery, is out in paperback from today. I won’t be celebrating as I’m fasting prior to a hospital exploration – bad timing perhaps but life is full of bad timing, n’est pas? If you’re planning to buy a copy, you can help your local bookshop by ordering through […]

The Really, Really Big Book Of Short Stories

When I decided to stop writing short fiction, it was for a number of reasons. I was overloaded with contracted novels. Short genre fiction was fun to do but financially worthless and too many anthologies were edited without any sort of critical judgement. A good editor can lift an anthology head and shoulders above the rest […]

The Long And The Short Of It

Stuck indoors? Feeling cooped up? Day 4 of my self-incarceration found me asking what exactly it is I did when I went out so much. It couldn’t just have been shopping and meeting friends, could it? Admittedly I’m in an unusual situation; my home is half-inside, half-outside because everything inside faces out, so I am […]

It’s Not Self-Isolating, It’s Reading

How many times in your life have you been called anti-social for reading quietly in a room? Or being told you’ll hurt your eyes, you need to go for a walk, get some fresh air, stop stuffing your head with ideas? Well, nobody’s saying it now – it’s the most enjoyable part of the new […]