Monthly Archives: March 2020


The discussion of nonsense poetry and in particular cruel Victorian verse brings us – as noted in the Comments section of yesterday’s blog  – to the master, Hilaire Belloc. The stern-looking Anglo-French historian and writer Hilaire Belloc was also a poet, satirist, soldier and political activist. Among the most versatile English writers of the first […]

Ruthlessly Funny

The Victorians were a callous lot, really. A gentleman named Harry Graham started writing very Victorian fiction, light verse, journalism and history in his twenties. His memoir ‘Across Canada To The Klondike’ was published after his death and is mercifully lost, but in 1898 he published a volume under the pseudonym Col. D Streamer called […]

English As Sheer Spoke

That was how my mother referred to idiomatic English, and while there have been dozens of books on the peculiarities of the English language, including fanciful volumes of outdated rhyming slang and even a history of Polari (which was still in common use until the 1990s) few have noticed the everyday oddities because we simply […]

Behind The Cover: Soho Black

I’d forgotten that Bryant & May crop up in my black comedy ‘Soho Black’. Of all my books it’s probably the oddest man out. But I wrote it for a specific reason; the story is effectively true. Beneath the puns, jokes, movie references and snappy dialogue lies a more serious intent. If you substitute ‘serious […]

In Rudyard’s Back Yard

‘Do you like Kipling?’ asks the colonel on the 1930’s saucy seaside postcard. ‘I don’t know, I’ve never Kippled,’ replies the shopgirl. But most people had, and they made him one of the most popular writers in England. Remembered mainly for his children’s fables, ‘The Jungle Book’ and ‘Just So Stories’, Kipling developed an image […]

Seen & Noted: ‘Dead Fashion Girl’, ‘The Candidate’

  The sheer volume of entertainment and leisure options available to us now is so unprecedented that it’s hard to find a way through the information overload. I rely less on press critics these days, but there are certain bloggers I trust who seem to have similar ahem, ‘eclectic’ tastes to mine. Ultimately I always […]

Where Shall I Set The Next Bryant & May?

Dear diary, this week was rather more up and down than I’d hoped for. I bounced back from a debilitating virus that had lingered since January only to be knocked over by a courier bike in Bloomsbury, and am now laid up with a torn thigh muscle. But I’m doing better than my freelance friends […]

So, What’s Your Blog About?

Last week somebody asked me ‘Is your blog just about, you know, books and stuff?’ I replied, ‘It’s about books and readers.’ ‘Well, then it could be anyone or anything.’ ‘Exactly.’ But to define it in my own head I took a screenshot of my most recent media upload page. Looking at it, I suddenly […]

Working From Home During A Cataclysm

You sit alone all day with imaginary people. If your company decides you’d be better off working from home, there are a few things you need to know. As a veteran homeworker, I’m in a position to help you adjust. First of all, remember that working at home means never being far from the fridge. Do […]

Making Friends With The Apocalypse

My friend Dan decided to by a flat near us in Barcelona and told his wife to only look in the areas he had marked on the map. Why those areas? They were all a certain height above sea level. How we laughed at him. He was right, of course; Barcelona was extended into the […]