Monthly Archives: July 2021

A Garden Of One’s Own

It’s the only large Central London park I’ve never been inside, and it’s just two miles from our home.  To be sure, there are other spots missing off the Fowler Patented Scrutinizing Map of London but this is the largest unknown territory. Buckingham Palace Garden, 39 lush acres lying behind high spiked walls, magically screens […]

Wartime Laughs and Horrors

Yesterday I swung from the hospital, where I was getting my usual dose of radioactivity for another scan, through a rainstorm to the cult paperback pulp fair, which has moved homes from Bloomsbury to Great Portland Street. Except that hardly anyone was there, the tables were empty, the punters absent. No dealers or buyers, thanks […]

Launched This Week: The Final Bryant & May Novel

Closure is so satisfying Well, the old boys began at death’s door and somehow remained there for twenty books, but regular readers know why this has happened. The side effects of my failed chemo, combined with a truly bizarre sequence of global events, have conspired to imprison me at home and push my stress levels […]

This Topic Is Dangerous

If you can shut out the world you can keep your prejudices intact. Thinking about my memoir ‘Paperboy’ there was a topic I meant to cover and did not include. It relates to the use of language and explains why any book or film depicting the past will always be wrong. It goes without saying […]

Rereading: It’s Like Buying Pre-Owned Fashion

Nobody in my family ever dies. My mother made it past 90 with a cheery smile on her enormous false teeth. My Uncle John is a fit, happy, tanned and laughing marvel at 91 (he sent a text to his son the other day. ‘Have you got my extension ladder?’) My feisty non-nonsense Auntie Doreen […]

Slap Them, They’re French

    Last year an American academic accused me (very politely) of being racist. As someone forged in the multi-cultural stewpot of Central London you can imagine how this went down with me. But – sigh of relief – it turned out that she was talking about Arthur Bryant’s attitude to the French, so that’s […]

The Mad Miss Bacon

The idea that William Shakespeare did not write his own plays was not a new one by the time Delia Bacon seized upon it. The first doubt had been cast in 1771 when one Herbert Laurence issued a book accusing the Bard of plagiarism and deer-stealing. This was roughly a century and a half after […]

London Diary: None Of Us Are Going Quietly

Well, it’s been a pretty downbeat month, especially when I was informed a couple of weeks ago that my chemo didn’t take at all. Oddly the one part of the poisoning process that seemed to work perfectly well was the development of nasty side-effects, which have crippled me. The sole remaining option is a possible […]

Maggie’s Twilight Zone Messages

As a former model, my only simultaneously fictional and non-fictional friend Maggie Armitage has always known how to pose for a photo. I have no bad shots of her. Hair-raising, terrifying, yes; bad, no. This was taken just before chemo turned my hair white and made most of it fall out. Maggie is wearing a […]

On Asking The Wrong Questions

I work in genre. I’m not terribly interested in multi-generational family sagas or angsty on-off romances in Paris and Prague. I quite like existential crises in novels but anything with children leaves me cold (although there are plenty of exceptions). I greatly respect Kate Atkinson but can see her readers nodding their heads in recognition […]