Monthly Archives: April 2021

Uncultured 1: What’s On My Cult Radar

  HHhH by Laurent Binet ‘HHhH’ is enlightening and occasionally infuriating, but retelling an oft-told story is never easy. Binet’s Prix Goncourt winner concerns the legend of the London-trained parachutists who attempted the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague, 1942, the events leading to the confrontation, the ambush itself, which played out like an action […]

Bryant & May Awake

How woke should a fictional crime series be? The recent term for the old awareness formerly known as ‘PC’, and before that ‘cool’ and before that ‘hip’, has been so absorbed into the mainstream that many entertainment products now feel as if they exist on one side of the line or the other. Thumbing through […]

A Letter From London

You see it everywhere; the sign that reads ‘Welcome Back’. The pubs, shops and restaurants are open for outdoor dining only, the vaccination scheme is working and the West End has gone through an unimaginable transformation. In just eighteen months central London has changed out of all recognition. It has become a semi-derelict inner city […]

Tomorrow Is Another Story

I’m tempted to write a literary book about stasis Today I stumbled across a great file of film pitches for ‘Roofworld’, ‘Spanky’, ‘Calabash’ and many others. I have files full of such presentations, most of which you can date at a glance. Few of them ever got beyond the script stage. One or two are […]

Not The Ideal Holmes

Recently there’s been much talk in the creative community about IPs. The intellectual property rights of characters are being sought out as never before because in uncertain times they come with built-in buyers. The most well-known characters are the most valuable, and they’re usually the simplest and easiest to grasp. That’s what keeps Sherlock Holmes […]

Popping Out For A Spell

Writing is a craft first and an art second. It happens every few years; someone suggests we abandon correct spelling in schools to ‘liberate’ children from rules and level the literacy playing field. This month, in a clickbait story designed to have Daily Telegraph readers clutching their pearls, universities have been talking about abandoning correct […]

Why Oxford Street Is Doomed

Before Covid, the UK had 30% more shops than it needed. London’s Oxford Street is, I suppose, still one of the world’s most famous shopping streets. It was once filled with luxurious department stores housed in grand buildings visited by all, but economic downturns, the end of emporia like Bourne & Hollingsworth and Marshall & […]

Enough Facts; Let’s Have More Fiction

  The flavour of the moment is to ground fiction in ‘authenticity’. Whenever a book or film proves to be historically inaccurate, many people get exercised about the apparent falsehoods on display. My attitude is that there’s no such thing as historical accuracy. The past is by its nature unknowable. You may copy the argot and […]

Not The Worst Film Ever Made (Update)

What Happens When The Brand Wags The Dog? When director Christopher Nolan insisted that his 007-ish headscratcher ‘Tenet’ only open in cinemas he misunderstood how audiences think. Of course he wanted to put it on the biggest possible screen – it’s dazzling to look at, often audacious and enthralling. It also makes no sense whatsoever, […]

The Enemy Of The Comma

The Ending Soars into Very English Tragedy ‘A novel from the author of several previous books,’ said the Amazon logline about ‘Jubb’, one of Keith Waterhouse’s astonishing black comedies. Was there ever a less appealing biography? I’m not sure I want to live in a world where ‘bibulous hack’ Waterhouse is out of print. His […]