Monthly Archives: July 2020

Sidelong Glances At The PCU Characters: The Two Daves

When I’m coming up with characters, some turn up simply because they’re needed at that point. I pull elements from the history of pop culture, a few classical allusions and the traits of friends, but the image of the workmen has always been there in my head. I wanted a Greek chorus to react against […]

How COVID Is Changing Us

A Bit Too Real A walk through Central London is a shock. For the past four months it has been like a quiet country village – and despite a half-hearted effort to get people into offices, it still is. A great many of the shops remain shut. There’s a cat asleep in the middle of St […]

Sidelong Glances At The PCU Characters: Janice Longbright

  Janice Longbright is an amalgamation of all the tough women I had ever encountered working in London’s Soho. I spent over a quarter of a century negotiating the madness of this tiny square of land, working and socialising there, but not being much of a late night person I was never one to drag […]

I Never knew that about London

The London Underground is the oldest in the world, but once it was also bigger in terms of distance than it is now. The district line used to run from Ealing Broadway all the way out to Windsor, but the line was discontinued in 1885 due to lack of passengers. And if the thought of […]

Sidelong Glances At The PCU Characters: Dan Banbury

Many, many books are written by outsiders. Writing is a solitary, strange occupation, and writing well requires enormous willpower and single-mindedness. It occupies writers’ minds and possesses them. There is a constant need to improve, yet I can open a cheap crime novel from the 1940s and find better writing than I am capable of […]

Sidelong Glances At The PCU Characters: Raymond Land

The character of unit chief Raymond Land in the Bryant & May books has an unexpected genesis that began with ‘One Thousand And One Nights’. The archetypes from those tales gathered from Persia and Arabia (names so much more evocative!) inhabited a fanciful world of jinns and sorcerers, but their bawdiness, realism and the tales’ […]

Amuse Yourself: The Virus VS The Story

It’s easy to forget there are actual words inside them Excellent news; book sales are up thanks to Lockdown; no real surprise there. Fiction dipped slightly but general sales are good, probably driven by desperation for something to do that wasn’t watching Netflix or cleaning out the composter. But we were already doing well; British […]

Sidelong Glances At The PCU Characters: John May

A friend of mine who was a theatrical agent hired a Leicester Square cinema (back in the days when you could do such things) for his own birthday and had a screening of ‘Gone with the Wind’. I saw it for the first time then, and remember thinking, ‘Bless Butterfly McQueen, but  this hasn’t aged well.’ […]

The Tuesday Song…And A Question

I’m researching today so let’s have a song – it’s been far too long. We need a little jazz hands in our lives occasionally, especially since there’s no theatre anymore. Don’t you often think, why aren’t there more film musicals set in a postwar Sovietski Soyuz workers commune? Your prayers are answered. And while I’m researching, […]

Sidelong Glances At the PCU Characters: Meera Mangeshkar

I’ve never thought of India as anything but a matriarchy. In New Delhi I felt I was surrounded by people who must have personally known my (very English) grandmother, for they had the exact same language and mannerisms. The cultural link between the two countries cannot be underestimated. Fitting a feisty young third-generation Indian officer […]