Observatory

A Very Little Christmas

My family was never big on occasions. My parents forgot my 21st birthday (back when it was the ‘key of the door’, the key of the door now being 14), we all regularly forgot or failed to mark each other’s big birthdays. My brother always actively avoided his and my mother decided that it was […]

Good Morning From Madrid

  I love mornings in Madrid – there’s no-one about until relatively late, then the city slowly comes to life; the owners of market stalls, cafés, fruit and vegetable stores commence the ritual washing of pavements, and awnings are put up against the sun. The fierce invading light washes over everything, but can’t reach far […]

Six Things To Carry With You

Whenever I travel I spend the final hours before leaving in a frenzy of charging-up. It seems that travelling light now involves hauling 10 kgs of tech around, and it all has to be filled with ‘the new electricity’, as my great-grandmother called it. Thank god I gave up my car, otherwise I’d be charging […]

So You’ve Got Cancer!

I’ve gone a bit Henry Miller today, for which I apologise in advance. It’s a work-in-progress from ‘Word Monkey’, the third part of my memoir trilogy, which began with ‘Paperboy’ and continued with ‘Film Freak’. So, you’ve been worried about your health for a while but you’re like Cleopatra, in denial. You think if you […]

Genesis Of A Blog

In August 2008 I started this blog with a post about the neighbour in ‘Bewitched’. The posts were short and funny. They were not often about books. Sometimes we had songs or musical numbers. We had competitions, crosswords and treasure hunts, as if we were big children. Most author websites discussed literature, but I didn’t […]

Urgent Hair Update

  When I was, oh I don’t know, about three (see above) I had a mop of blond hair, was forced into cardigans at the seaside and was the size of a large duck. When I was 7 years-old my father proudly introduced me to ‘Old Morris’ who would take tonsorial control of me now […]

Surviving Chernobyl

Billy Bunter’s Big Blowout Recently I went to a party where there were lots of old friends I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. It was lovely to see them after lockdown, and there was so much of them to see. They were, well there’s no other way of putting this, fat, but dare I […]

Still Pinching Myself

Simple Joys Tinto de Verano is the perfect summer drink; everyone orders it in Spain yet its ingredients are basic; red wine, ice cubes, lemon/lime soda, slices of oranges and lemons. It’s just something that tastes of summer. I’m drinking it during my one-week holiday (the first this year) in Barcelona, a trip thrown together at […]

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

So This Happened At 7pm Monday night, Pete and I were at an impasse, arguing about possible ways of escaping the country. Sick of the dark days and apocalyptic storms and floods, tethered by commitments, we tried to find a travel date but couldn’t find a day before October. I felt that given my condition […]

The Adventures Of Phileas Brain-Fogg

I wait impatiently for my brain fog to lift. I am Phileas Brain-Fogg. My mind is a tabula rasa, each day vanishing into grey smoke. The howling wind and rain outside, constantly tearing at the new planting in its determination to point out that last year’s pleasant  summer was a freakish anomaly, never lets up in […]