Not Stir Crazy Yet

It’s been a weird week for me, because far from seeing nobody I’ve seen more people than ever thanks to doctors, tests and hospital visits in the middle of a national shutdown. Suffice it to say, bad timing of the very worst order, but I shall deal with it. We shall speak of this no […]

Isolation Tales 2: The Mistake At The Monsoon Palace

Changing the tone from the previous story, which was written very early on in my career, this tale was based on something that actually happened to me in India. It was first published in the collection ‘Red Gloves’ in 2011. The edition was small press, but a very beautiful hardback volume of 25 new stories, […]

Isolation Tales 1: Dale & Wayne Go Shopping

As we head into the steeply rising curve of Covid-19 I’ve decided to publish some stories online, just in case anyone gets fed up with watching reruns of ‘Dad’s Army’. Here’s one requested specifically for these troubled shopping times, set in a supermarket even worse than the ones in King’s Cross. It was first published […]

Two Cheers For Publication Day!

‘The Lonely Hour’, Bryant & May’s latest murder mystery, is out in paperback from today. I won’t be celebrating as I’m fasting prior to a hospital exploration – bad timing perhaps but life is full of bad timing, n’est pas? If you’re planning to buy a copy, you can help your local bookshop by ordering through […]

The Really, Really Big Book Of Short Stories

When I decided to stop writing short fiction, it was for a number of reasons. I was overloaded with contracted novels. Short genre fiction was fun to do but financially worthless and too many anthologies were edited without any sort of critical judgement. A good editor can lift an anthology head and shoulders above the rest […]

The Long And The Short Of It

Stuck indoors? Feeling cooped up? Day 4 of my self-incarceration found me asking what exactly it is I did when I went out so much. It couldn’t just have been shopping and meeting friends, could it? Admittedly I’m in an unusual situation; my home is half-inside, half-outside because everything inside faces out, so I am […]

It’s Not Self-Isolating, It’s Reading

How many times in your life have you been called anti-social for reading quietly in a room? Or being told you’ll hurt your eyes, you need to go for a walk, get some fresh air, stop stuffing your head with ideas? Well, nobody’s saying it now – it’s the most enjoyable part of the new […]

Hilaire-ious

The discussion of nonsense poetry and in particular cruel Victorian verse brings us – as noted in the Comments section of yesterday’s blog  – to the master, Hilaire Belloc. The stern-looking Anglo-French historian and writer Hilaire Belloc was also a poet, satirist, soldier and political activist. Among the most versatile English writers of the first […]

Ruthlessly Funny

The Victorians were a callous lot, really. A gentleman named Harry Graham started writing very Victorian fiction, light verse, journalism and history in his twenties. His memoir ‘Across Canada To The Klondike’ was published after his death and is mercifully lost, but in 1898 he published a volume under the pseudonym Col. D Streamer called […]

English As Sheer Spoke

That was how my mother referred to idiomatic English, and while there have been dozens of books on the peculiarities of the English language, including fanciful volumes of outdated rhyming slang and even a history of Polari (which was still in common use until the 1990s) few have noticed the everyday oddities because we simply […]