Monthly Archives: October 2020

Something Very Creepy For Hallowe’en

I had a complaint from a reader about the following story, which appeared in the e-collection ‘Frightening’. She said it had kept her awake at night. I said that was the point of writing it. Happy Hallowe’en! The Baby The dingy Edwardian pub was called The Grand Duke, but there was nothing grand about the […]

…And All The Other Places

Writing about London is always a pleasure, but I feel increasingly bad about not covering the rest of the country. Here, though, I am at a disadvantage. Nobody in the history of our family, barring my mother’s missing relatives, came from anywhere other than central London, so there were no trips to the family homes […]

Book Mooching In London

It’s my all-time favourite pastime, ingrained in me since I was about 5 years old. Book mooching involves wandering the London streets looking for secondhand bookshops, chatting to the people who sell books and spending too much money on them. My childhood bedroom was filled with books salvaged from dustbins and borrowed from friends, books […]

We Don’t All Climb The Same Peaks

Let’s start at base camp When it comes to the arts, there’s a scale of achievement many of us feel we have to tackle. The base camp for books is not Mr Dan Brown, as many might think, but the novels of Joan Collins. Joan was taken to court by Random House (my publisher in […]

Accent!

There are currently 37 dialects in the UK While we are waiting for the venerable Mr Tim Goodman to un-self-isolate so that the audio version of ‘Oranges & Lemons’ can make its way to its listeners, let’s consider the voice for a few minutes. ‘Accent!’ Max Adrian, the producer in Ken Russell’s ‘The Boy Friend’ […]

London Is Not What It Was (And That’s A Good Thing)

‘If you ‘go out’ – and who doesn’t these days? – you’ll need this.’ So begins one popular 1940s travel guide. The concept of ‘going out’ seems relatively recent in the UK, which explains a hell of a lot. In 1952 a gentleman named John Metcalf decided to produce a book about London with a […]

Three Questions For Writers

Question 1: Early Work – Bin or Keep? Last week I posed a question on Twitter to other authors.  It was prompted by the discovery of four novels I had written between the ages of 12 and 16. They are uniformly dreadful, derivative and clumsy, with only a rudimentary grasp of construction. To be honest, I […]

No Time To Read?

When I was young I used to have a framed print of Charles Edward Perugini’s ‘Girl Reading’ on my wall. It’s amazing how many paintings there are of women reading – perhaps because it was considered a genteel, passive image, demure, ladylike and calming. It also suggests virginity or purity; the girl in white, the […]

8 Really, Really Uncomfortable Films

Unbehagen is the German word for discomfort or unease. Horror films shock but the best supernatural films are suffused with the melancholy of loss (‘The Others’, ‘The Orphanage’, ‘The Innocents’). Then there are the films that go to uncomfortable places. ‘Goodfellas’ made good on the ever-present threat in gangster films to explode into violence, and […]