Settling The Bill

London cop drama, The Bill, has been on my TV longer than the fruit bowl. First appearing in 1983, in the guise of a one-off drama called Woodentop, it became a weekly series a year later and has passed through various formats up to and including its current one hour slot every Wednesday and Thursday, … Read more

Amazing Book Bargains

I used to be a publisher. Not someone who worked for a big international corporation, mixing with bestselling authors, famous film, TV and sports personalities and their less glamorous ghostwriters, but an important part – or at least I liked to think so – of a one-man operation. Aside from an army of authors, artists, … Read more

Cooking Perfect Rice – Easily

Cooking perfect rice

Cooking perfect rice is a skill that can mark you out from the rest of the herd. Either you can. Or you can’t. There is no middle ground. Rice provides one-fifth of the calories consumed in the world today. Or slightly more if you eat at the Wong Kei restaurant in London’s Soho, where servings … Read more

Mobile Telephony

Man consults his mobile phone

Some people don’t like the term ‘Mobile Telephony’. Well, phooey to them, I say. It’s better than the article it is describing. One way to discern a person’s real age is to discover how they feel about mobile phones. If they regard them as an extension of themselves, as an add-on that continues everyday conversation, … Read more

John Wayne Syndrome: Big John or Big Jessie?

John Wayne

Unlikely as it may sound, psychiatrists recognise a condition called “John Wayne Syndrome”. The Duke’s ailment has since become synonymous with battle fatigue. But originally it described someone who could not come to terms with their own perceived lack of heroism. When he wasn’t campaigning in favour of guns or against Socialism, Wayne was tormented … Read more

East Europeans Cleaning Up

We have a Polish cleaner. There, I’ve admitted it. For a liberal, woolly-minded Old Labour person like me, that’s a big admission. Or, at least, it used to be. Now it’s perfectly normal to have ‘help around the house’, and to justify my actions I’d just say that if I didn’t employ her, she’d be … Read more

My Blog Shame

It’s all Richard Herring’s fault. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’ll start at the beginning… One major benefit of owning an iPhone is, instead of listening to other people speaking rubbish to each other via their own handsets, you can inflict podcasts on yourself. I subscribe to 63 at last count, ranging from … Read more

Interesting Facts About Europe (Can You Trust The Truth?)

The title ‘Interesting Facts About Europe’ is misleading, but that’s the problem with facts. One person’s truth is another’s lie. As it’s not in my nature to disappoint anyone, I kick off with 5 very Interesting Facts About Europe: 1. The World’s 14 Most Charitable Countries are in Europe. (Official Development Assistance by country as … Read more

Complaint: From Minor Moans to Principled Protests

Making a complaint

Talking about complaining, can I just say that Profile Books has just published a book called Complaint by Julian Baggini. It is claimed that this 224-page paperback is the first to be devoted to the subject. All I can say is: It’s about bloody time! Call yourself a publishing industry, making us wait 568 years … Read more

Total Cost of the Credit Crunch

cost of the credit crunch

Let’s not worry about the true cost of the credit crunch. I’m sure it’ll all come right in the end. Actually, you’ve got to feel sorry for the banks and credit card companies. They sustained us through the good times, barely taking enough profit to carpet their meagre offices and keep their executives and shareholders … Read more

Life As An Out-Of-The Loop Music Promoter (Part 1)

Slambovian Circus at Rhythm Festival 2009

I’ve been a music promoter for most of my working life. It’s basically the same as being a theatrical impresario except, instead of plays, I organise rock ‘n’ roll shows. The wife likes to think of it as being something like a professional gambler, but that’s just her. A music promoter hires a venue, finds … Read more

Write A Novel The Easy Way

Keyboard helps you write a novel

Never mind the old cliché that says ‘there’s a novel inside everyone’. It might well be true, but the tricky part is getting it out and on to paper. You might be surprised to hear that there’s never been a better time to write a novel. After 23 years trying, I think I’ve finally discovered … Read more

The Lies Start Here *(if you believe the facts)…

Piles of books in a bookshop

Although I’ve never kept a diary, as a facts-lover, the idea of a blog is strangely appealing. Thanks to the European Nuclear industry’s Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau, it is now possible for just about any living person to read what you have to say about the world. George Walker Bush. Fidel Castro. Gordon Brown. … Read more