Five lessons I learned from a theatrical great

Five lessons I learned from a theatrical great

I wanted to ring my friend Eleanor the other day after a show. Some reaction from the audience had surprised me, and she was always good at interpreting these things in a way that was useful for future shows. It was then I remembered that there would be no Eleanor at the end of the… Continue reading Five lessons I learned from a theatrical great

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The Therapy of Trees

In April 2020, the Norfolk artist Jayne Ivimey took to waking every day while it was still dark, gathering up her drawing materials and a thermos, and driving to the nearby Felbrigg Wood where she would watch the dawn rise. She would stay there every day until dusk, and kept up her visits for the… Continue reading The Therapy of Trees

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Richard, Elizabeth, Roger and Jake: lives pinned upon the page

‘The illusion of biography is that real people are not perishable and that they can be restored,’ writes Roger Lewis in the opening pages of his soon-to-be published biography of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor Erotic Vagrancy. ‘But people are perishable. They come to an end, go out of fashion, require exegesis… The nearer you… Continue reading Richard, Elizabeth, Roger and Jake: lives pinned upon the page

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My one-woman show: what I learned in Edinburgh

A couple of weeks ago, Georgie Grier, a comedian at the Edinburgh Fringe, posted a plaintive message on Twitter (or whatever its Musky name is now – Cross, is it?). There had been an audience of one at her show the previous night, she reported sadly, closing with a tearful ‘It’s fine, isn’t it? It’s… Continue reading My one-woman show: what I learned in Edinburgh

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Smart Mart: the high-wire act that fell to earth

I have difficulty thinking of Martin Amis as an old man, let alone a dead one. The work of his middle years was so spectacular and unforgettable, such a breath-taking  high-wire act, that it has somehow made what followed seem little more than a slow fade. In recent years, I have glanced at Amis’s later… Continue reading Smart Mart: the high-wire act that fell to earth

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Ronnie Blythe: the death of a tribal storyteller

It is odd to be knocked sideways by the death of someone who is 100 years old, and yet Ronnie Blythe’s departure last weekend has come as a shock. The friendship  of Ronnie was compared by his friend a fellow-writer Roger Deakin to an old oak – something that always seemed to have been there,… Continue reading Ronnie Blythe: the death of a tribal storyteller

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We Need to Talk About Meghan. What exactly did she do wrong?

Just now and then, life throws up a character who turns out to be a sort of Rorschach Test of public taste –  someone who, like the famous inkblot, can prompt reactions which reveal deeper psychological truths. Usually these Rorschach characters are obvious  –   Johnson, Trump, Nadine Dorries  – but sometimes there are surprise candidates.… Continue reading We Need to Talk About Meghan. What exactly did she do wrong?

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The moral harm of Michael Beale

As the World Cup unfolds, we hear every day about how football spills into the wider world  –  into politics, into the way people think and feel. It’s a symbol of something, we’re told, or a metaphor for something else. It’s far more significant than 22 men chasing a ball around. Normally I would be… Continue reading The moral harm of Michael Beale

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‘Play nicely, children,’ said the Society of Authors …. They didn’t.

The working life of a professional writer is not exciting. You write. You read what you have written. You sigh. You try again until, with luck, something passable appears on the page or screen before you. Now and then  – again, with luck  –  you get published. Rows or bust-ups in the little world of… Continue reading ‘Play nicely, children,’ said the Society of Authors …. They didn’t.

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JULIE, JEREMY AND AN ODD KIND OF FAMILY SAGA

The papers have been full of reviews and interviews with the author Julie Myerson, who has written a novel which is, according to the Sunday Time, ‘a bold two-fingered salute to her attackers a few years back.’ I have a feeling that might include me. Back in 2009, I was caught up in a minor,… Continue reading JULIE, JEREMY AND AN ODD KIND OF FAMILY SAGA

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