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 […]

It’s Going To Be A Trilogy

I’ve been granted leave of absence by my doctors so I’m off to Madrid for the weekend to see my oldest friend, who has been restricted for a very long time by one of the toughest lockdowns in the world. The thought of fresh sights thrills me to the core. As much as I love […]

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 […]

We’re Not On The Same Page Anymore

‘I got halfway through and stopped reading,’ said my New York agent. He was talking about my new manuscript. ‘There’s no market for it over here.’ ‘Things must be pretty bad when your own agent fires you,’ said a friend. ‘Why don’t you write to their market?’ ‘I don’t know what their market is anymore,’ […]

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 […]

Where Did All The Male Readers Go?

In the last few years, the book-reading and publishing demographic has radically changed. In the press this week, Elisabeth Strout warned against the dangers of women writers dominating fiction as both authors and publishers. ‘We need to mix it up. I also wish there were more male readers of fiction.’ Overall, males are still ahead […]

Make Mine Music

I always write with music playing. I find that soundtracks can provide the perfect atmosphere in which to write. But where do you start?  Soundtrack music is created to enhance the emotion of visuals, so it makes an ideal accompaniment. I went through a phase of writing to Michael Nyman scores, particularly the Handel-like ‘The Draughtsman’s […]

A Paint Pot Full Of Blood

Oh no, I thought, haunted paintings. Elderly men raising flickering candles to canvas as the figures move… It’s a supernatural genre that has never worked for me, except for Oscar Wilde’s coded parable, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, and even that falls apart when films literalise the painting to show not a nameless horror but […]

Last Night In Soho I Saw Last Night In Soho

    They asked if we had seen a man in a chicken suit go past. That’s Soho for you. Edgar Wright’s new film is a psychological puzzler that’s a love letter to London’s Soho then and now. That’s its blessing and its curse. Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are faint-voiced mentally fragile fashion student and […]

Lend Us A Squid Till Friday

  No Spoilers I’ve been a fan of Korean cinema for many years but didn’t make the jump to K-TV until ‘Squid Game’. By now the figures speak for the series itself. Supposedly the No.1 show in over 90 countries (although Netflix refuse to release any figures so we’ll never know), viewed over 110 million […]