Monthly Archives: April 2020

Unfashionable Pursuits: Can We revive Childhood Hobbies?

I wasn’t capable of building models without gluing my eyelids. Like many of my friends, I grew up without a television. My grandmother disapproved of shouting and running on a Sunday, and never bought a TV because she thought it would irradiate the brain and destroy the art of conversation. When she finally succumbed, she hung […]

Please, Spare Me Your Amateur Theatricals

I have some friends who think they live in the 1930s. They are delightful companions until after a meal, when, suddenly imagining that they reside in Downton Abbey, they arrange impromptu post-dinner performances that suddenly involve a stage, instruments and costumes. To make matters worse they are all talented, having had the right education for […]

What Did You Do In The Great Lockdown?

  To the outside eye, America is a country now at war with itself. The trouble with the Lockdown is that unlike war it’s a passive experience. The writers who made capital of their wartime experiences are stumped this time. They’re already complaining that it will be impossible to write about because it’s fundamentally boring. […]

Thought-Provoking Lockdown Reads: ‘The World Of Yesterday’

I’m embarrassed to admit that the first time I had ever heard of Stefan Zweig was in the credits of ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. That film has helped to push him back into the limelight and encouraged Pushkin Press to bring out new editions of his essays and his novellas. The subtitle to ‘The World Of […]

Thought-Provoking Lockdown Reads: ‘The Science Of Monsters’

This fascinating book is the kind I would usually prejudge and overlook; it would appear to be a patch-together job on a spurious and rather vague subject, but turns out to be surprisingly thoughtful. Kaplan is London-based science journalist looking at the monsters of legend with a serious eye. I was prepared for a rehash of […]

Thought-Provoking Lockdown Reads: ‘The Anarchy’

Each day I’ll be looking at one of the five books featured above. Today: ‘The Anarchy’ by William Dalrymple. I’ve enjoyed the Mr William Dalrymple’s insightful books on India since I read ‘City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi’, and once used it as a practical guide. ‘The Anarchy’ feels like a subject he was […]

Don’t Let Your Brain Die In Lockdown

On one level at least, lockdown has not been as awful as I’d imagined. Suddenly there’s time to focus and consider what’s important, and as Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis pointed out, it had nothing to do with courage or fortitude but decency and respect. The importance of things has reshuffled itself into a new order. […]

And The 20th Bryant & May Will Be…

The handsome paperback of ‘The Lonely Hour’ is out in the UK now, and I have copies to give away in a London treasure hunt, but sadly this is not the time to do it. Hopefully the future schedule won’t change. In July the hardback of ‘Oranges & Lemons’ arrives, to be followed in November by […]

What Not To Watch During Lockdown

Everyone’s telling you about the streamers you should catch up with in lockdown, but what about the heavily hyped ones you should avoid? No, don’t thank me, I’m happy to share the three claustrophobic experiences below… How many times have you asked yourself, ‘I wonder what Alien would be like if it was remade underwater […]

A Cheery Showbiz Anecdote

In my old job we worked with a lot of screen legends and pretty soon you learn to keep your mouth shut about what they say or do, but a piece in the papers about Dame Judi Dench, now 85, being entirely unconcerned about how she was received in ‘Cats’, made me remember this tidbit. […]