BLOGS

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....

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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  -...

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TIP FOR SONGWRITERS – YOU’VE GOT TO PICK A POCKET OR TWO

If writers and musicians have a token bird that symbolises what they do, it is not, however much they may like it to be, a nightingale, a skylark or a peacock. It's a magpie. We are all, while writing, scavenging...

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‘YOU, SIR, ARE AN ABSOLUTE SHIT’

The words in this headline were emailed to me a few years back, shortly after the death of Bob Hope. At the time, I was writing a twice-weekly opinion column for the Independent, and I had devoted one of these...

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PHILIP ROTH – JUST ANOTHER PENIS WITH A THESAURUS?

Predictably, inevitably, the great novelist Philip Roth is now receiving the full Updike treatment. He has become 'problematic'. His novels should 'recontextualised'. He is on the wrong side of Me Too. It has been a few years now since that...

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Writer's Shed

On...