Date Archives October 2009

Art at the Barbican

I went to the Barbican recently for two exhibitions – Radical Nature and the Free Art Fair. I liked the first more than the second. The Free Art Fair was a great idea: have am exhibition at the Barbican and give away the work at the end through a random draw. It was ruined, though, by someone’s idea to have a children’s music event in the same space. Young children banging on drums and clashing cymbals made it impossible to enjoy the event or even to look at the art… Read More

Congratulations, Ruth Dugdall!

Last year I won the Luke Bitmead Writer’s Bursary, an event that changed my life and led to the publication of On the Holloway Road. This year it is the turn of Ruth Dugdall with her novel The Woman Before Me. The award ceremony last night was a wonderful experience for me personally. It was great to remember where I was a year ago, how things have changed since then, and to be grateful for it all. I also enjoyed seeing the event from another side, without all the pressure… Read More

Biological debt

Saw this interesting take on the body’s energy levels. At the moment I am working nights to supplement my writing income, so energy is something I always struggle with. I generally don’t drink caffeine, but sometimes when I’m desperate to make quick progress I do. When I wrote the first draft of On the Holloway Road in a month, while working full-time, needless to say I drank a LOT of coffee! It worked well then, I think, because it was a limited time and I could keep myself going. In… Read More

“The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy

A man dies slowly and in great agony. He ponders the meaning of life, and this increases his anguish: even worse than the physical pain of a slow, lingering death is the spiritual anguish of realising he has wasted his life. Tolstoy’s main target here is dishonesty and hypocrisy. This is established from the opening scene, when Ivan Ilyich’s death is announced, and the reaction of his colleagues is to think about how this will affect their promotion chances, while speaking the usual lines about it being a “sad business”… Read More

Media hoaxes and churnalism

Greg Watts just linked to an interesting article in the Financial Times about the recent spate of media hoaxes, like a boy supposedly trapped in a balloon and a fake US Chamber of Commerce press conference on climate change, and the wider questions of media credibility. For me, the hoaxes are definitely a symptom of something wider, and not as worrying as the use of reheated press releases. One of the most revealing exercises we did at journalism school was reading The New York Times from cover to cover and… Read More

“The Iron Duke” by L. Ron Hubbard

I don’t generally read this kind of thing, but it was given away free by a very nice lady on the L. Ron Hubbard stand at the London Book Fair earlier this year. I don’t like to write anything off without having read it first, so I thought I’d give it a try. The writing was not bad, and the plot moved along quickly, with lots of twists and turns. The only problem was that the characters did not feel like human beings. And that, for me, is a big… Read More

Monday morning inspiration

“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

Why the London Evening Standard is dying

A few weeks ago, I walked past an Evening Standard vendor, and glanced at the headline: “WORLD’S FIRST AIDS VACCINE”. This was big news – a massive scientific breakthrough that could save millions of lives. My response was to shake my head and keep walking. People think the Standard’s circulation is plummeting because of the internet, or the freesheets. It’s not true. The paper is dying because of crimes against journalism, committed over many, many years. As it turns out, that AIDS headline was true – there had been a… Read More