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’ […]

Extremes Of English Language

When books are written about slang and colloquial language – and my friend Max Décharné’s delightful ‘Vulgar Tongues: An Alternative History of English Slang’ is one of the best – they tend to miss out a particularly odd form of speech patterns. A kind of ‘extreme English’ that can be heard in the films of the 1950s. […]

Reversing Censorship

When ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ was about to go to paperback, my young editor became worried about the lack of BAME authors featured. The book was mainly about postwar paperback writers, and there had been no populist BAME authors working in this field. The ones who wrote in the UK were university educated and […]

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 […]

Sunday In The Pub With…

It appears Britain survived the easing of the Lockdown over the weekend without drunken gangs terrorising the nation. Sky News and the Daily Mail decided to run with their pre-prepared headlines of ‘brawls in Soho’ in spite of the fact that there were none and police said people generally behaved themselves. Sunday, then, a time […]

Bingewatching: ‘Veep’

While I loved the political spin comedy series ‘The Thick Of It’ I always suspected that the show was built around a single repeating plot; confirm, reverse, panic, deny, lacing the events with Malcolm Tucker’s potty-mouth asides. The US reboot ‘Veep’ began the same way with Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) failing to understand the basic principles […]

‘Devs’ – Technobabble Gets A Glamorous Makeover

I have started ranting at the TV. I never used to even watch it. As a result, I’m completely out of the loop. The last show I saw was ‘Minder’ on television in a hospital waiting room. I think they have it permanently tuned to the 1980s. I’d been looking forward to Alex Garland’s SF […]

‘Quiz’: Looking For Answers

Isolation may last a year. Global warming is killing the world. Famine and flood approach. The US president has gone mad. What can we talk about that’s more uplifting?   How about the latest work from playwright James Graham? His TV version of ‘Quiz’ (download all three episodes now on Sky) proved much better than the […]

A Site For All Ages

When I started this site in 1878 I never thought it would last thing long. A blog about books, how original. And we can use it to flog your tawdry output, said the publisher’s PR. Oh, and we’ll want full access to it. The result was the Bryant & May website, disastrous from Day One, […]

A Cheery Showbiz Anecdote

In my old job we worked with a lot of screen legends and pretty soon you learn to keep your mouth shut about what they say or do, but a piece in the papers about Dame Judi Dench, now 85, being entirely unconcerned about how she was received in ‘Cats’, made me remember this tidbit. […]