The Arts

The Surreal Thing

There are subjects I return to again and again for a final word. This is one of them. It started, as so many things do, with art. Magritte and Duchamp, Buñuel and Dali, ‘Un Chien Andalou’ and ‘L’Age D’Or’ and ‘Dr Caligari’. Many critics wrote off Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech because of his […]

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 […]

A Proud History Of Corrupting Youth: The Last Word On EC

I’ve looked at strange old comics a few times over the years (follow the hotlinks below), but thought I’d have one last look, precipitated by a new publication.  Comic books, that is the bound free-standing comic periodicals, were born in 1933 when Bill Gaines’s father looked at comic strips in newspapers and wondered if they’d […]

The Friday Song Sunday Pop-Up!

Even disguised as an adiposally-challenged lady, John Travolta can still remind us that he started out as a terrific song-and-dance man on the stage. Also, check out the Actors’ Fund Charity Hairspray finale on Youtube, featuring just about everyone who was ever in the show in a self-isolating finale. The link’s for a good cause, […]

Criminally Different (A Baker’s Dozen Of Underrated Crime Films)

What makes a good crime film? Well, there has to be an innocent whose eyes are opened and a criminal on a mission, and there’s usually someone trapped between the two, creating a moral problem. But the usual suspects, like ‘The Usual Suspects’, are absent here. In any top ten list you’ll find ‘Bonnie & […]

The Kind Of Stuff That Sells

My old pal Joanne Harris is in the press again, this time for revealing what she was paid for the rights to have her excellent novel ‘Chocolat’ made into a mediocre film – £5,000 apparently. I have never been paid a figure remotely as high as that for the rights to anything. The standard fee […]

Short Stories: The Complete List

For those completists out there, this is the definitive list of all my published short story titles, now reaching Joyce Carol Oatesian (Oatsean?) proportions, if not her consistent quality. This is the order in which I wrote them, but there are still around five missing that I haven’t been able to track down. (That’s not […]

The Year Without Theatre

The first play I saw was George Bernard Shaw’s ‘The Devil’s Disciple’. I must have been seven or eight. The last play I saw was Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s ‘The Visit’, days before Lockdown. Between the two plays has been sandwiched a lifetime’s theatre, plays seen more frequently than any football fan’s match fixtures. It was a […]

If In Doubt, Cut It Out: The New Entertainment Censorship 2

There can be no single defining rule to censorship. Mickey Rooney’s horrible impersonation of an Asian man in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ doesn’t get removed, probably because there’s no way of doing so without destroying the treasured film. Yet I remember the single shocking instance of the verb ‘fuck’ in ‘Cabaret’, which was changed to ‘screw’ and […]

If In Doubt, Cut It Out: The New Entertainment Censorship

  It started when I caught the opening of ‘Hairspray’ on Netflix and stayed tuned to watch John Waters’ cameo as a flasher on the streets of Baltimore. I remember Tracy Turnblad walking along a street filled with parodied sixties moments including a drunk in a bar (it’s early morning) and several pregnant women hilariously […]