This Time No Mistakes

This Time No Mistakes

If he were alive today, Benjamin Franklin would surely have said that nothing is certain in life except death, taxes and political parties refusing to be honest about taxes during an election campaign.

Reading Historical Fiction

Historical fiction

“The writer of good historical fiction must also be something of a tightrope-walker, ensuring that the reader is given sufficient contextual detail without either sounding didactic or overloading the text with extraneous detail.”

In Praise of Gyles Brandreth

Gyles Brandreth

A review of Odd Boy Out by Gyles Brandreth and some thoughts on why I like and admire “the Marmite of light entertainment.

Johnson at 10 Book Review

Johnson at 10

I don’t normally bother with books like Johnson at 10. It’s not that I don’t like politics. Far from it. I have followed politics and read political history all my adult life. Political philosophy, political ideologies/theories (liberalism, conservatism, socialism etc) and books about future…

Genesis Autobiographies

Genesis books

Thoughts on autobiographies by members of Genesis: Not Dead Yet by Phil Collins; A Genesis in My Bed by Steve Hackett; The Living Years by Mike Rutherford.

Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks

Sebastian Faulks is one of my favourite writers of fiction. This blog brings together a few thoughts on a selection of his novels that I have read in the last two years or so. Some of what follows first appeared in a books, TV…

Henry VI and the Wars of the Roses

Wars of the Roses

The past, it is proverbially said, is a foreign country. Perhaps it is, though in my case huge chunks of English history – the whole of the medieval and early modern periods, for example – were for a long time more like a far-off world than merely a place somewhere beyond the shores of Britain.

The Thursday Murder Club

Thursday Murder Club

I shut my ears to the fanfare around The Thursday Murder Club, the first novel by Richard Osman, until I was charmed and disarmed by an interview in the paper promoting the follow-up. And yes, it is annoyingly good – as is the second in the series, The Man Who Died Twice, which I have just finished.

Books, TV and Films, April 2022

When plans for the film Ammonite, about the nineteenth-century English fossil collector and palaeontologist Mary Anning, were announced, I assumed – wrongly, as it turns out – that it would concentrate on her struggles to be recognised for her expertise and pioneering work. In fact, other than brief scenes in the British Museum that top and tail the film – a new exhibit that makes no mention of Mary’s role in finding and identifying it – the emphasis is very much on her life in Lyme Regis and a love affair with Charlotte Murchison who, though wealthy and privileged, is trapped in a stifling, loveless marriage.

Books, TV and Films, March 2022

9 March I first became aware of Gyles Brandreth via his appearances on Channel 4’s Countdown in the early-ish eighties. Muddled memory confession time: I always thought of him as the second occupant of Dictionary Corner, following a lengthy Kenneth Williams residency, until I…