“Let’s talk about adverbs,” he said, swiftly
A couple of posts ago, I mentioned Stephen King’s splendid book On Writing, and referenced his personal ban – which I think he’d like extended – on adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend” he said, adding, “the road to hell is paved with adverbs and I will shout it from the rooftops.” Loudly, no doubt. […]
Victoria Wood: my unfunny encounter
“She won’t be funny, you know,” said our executive producer. I had booked Victoria Wood, who died yesterday, as a guest on a chat show I was producing for ITV, starring Jimmy Tarbuck (about which I have written before). She was a late booking, the first guest on the first show in 1996. Two days […]
A gem on every page
Fifteen years ago I was holiday with my then-girlfriend (now wife) in Zahara de los Atunes in southern Spain. Three things are especially memorable. Mrs W told me she was pregnant; Islamist psychos flew aeroplanes into the Twin Towers in New York (the horror of which we watched unfold on a television in a village bar); […]
Did people actually wear these things?
I fear they did. The 1970s was, after all, “the decade that fashion forgot”. Except, it wasn’t. It was more like, “the decade that fashion forgot that clothes should not be principally hilarious.” By which I mean, look around you. There is relatively little in how people dress now that in twenty years’ time will […]
Mysterious object in the mail
This arrived this morning. It’s a self-assembly mini-drone, so far as I can tell. There was no sender, no return address, no instructions. All I can tell is that 1. It was sent by Swiss Post 2. The sender’s signature is printed as YANWEN which appears to be a Chinese shipping company 3. There’s a […]
Park Hotel, Tynemouth – a sad decline
All right, all right. I should have known. I’ve driven past it plenty of times to have noticed its decline. It’s just that I haven’t actually been in it for ages, decades, probably. So when it came to booking a Mothering Sunday lunch, and all the first choices were full, the Park Hotel, Tynemouth didn’t […]
February 29: get ready, ladies
This business of women proposing marriage on February 29. Does anyone, anyone at all, take it remotely seriously? You’d think not. I mean, obviously it’s just a bit of a laugh, some humorous tradition that – personally – I doubt was ever more than that. But already, this morning, I’ve read things that make me suspect that […]
Gilbert O’Sullivan. Then…and now.
I’m way too old to choose what music I listen to on the basis of what is hip, cool, cutting edge, or will make me appear any of those things. Which is just as well, because my tastes in popular music run in a definite Radio 2 groove. So I was in the car the […]
Are you “well-read”? Take our humiliating and condescending test!
I think I am. More accurately, I like to think I am. In fact, I’m probably not. Not really. I’m a fairly slow and fairly picky reader. But how can you tell whether you qualify for this fatuous and altogether snobby accolade? Well, one way would be to do this quiz, which popped up in my […]
The author as stand up comic
You’re up there for an hour, doing nothing but talking, and they’re all laughing, hundreds of them, sometimes. You’re being FUNNY! You’re a comedian! This was not what I expected. Not even slightly. “Are you up for doing some promotion?” they asked. “Perhaps touring schools, signing some books, talking to the kids a bit?” “Um…sure? […]