a portrait of the author as a young arse

      Between the ages of 19 and 21, I wrote a series of notes (the longest is about a page, so somewhere between a sketch and a mini-essay I guess) that made up a kind of summary of my worldview at the time….

gateways to horror: the watch house by robert westall

  What was the first thing that scared you? The answer to that question is no doubt buried deep in your subconscious and could be almost anything. What was the first thing you sought out because you wanted to be scared? That should be easier…

the law won – police academy and 80s pop culture

  The police in 2020 may feel beleaguered by the pressure to account for their actions and act within the boundaries of the laws they are supposed to be upholding, but despite the usual complaining from conservative nostalgists about declining standards of respect, the question…

time for a change; the death of a decade

  Between the ages of 14 and 16 or thereabouts, the things I probably loved the most – or at least the most consistently – were horror (books and movies) and heavy metal. These loves changed (and ended, for a long time) at around the…

chosen ones and dark lords and everything in between

To start with, this was mostly about books, and I think it will end that way too. But it begins with a not terribly controversial statement; hero worship is not good. And the greatest figures in the fight for human rights or human progress of…

messages from the past for the future

  Sitting down to write this, a month after breaking my leg and having to grapple with hitherto-unconsidered questions like ‘how do I usually sit on a toilet’? and one week before a General Election where my preferred of the apparently plausible outcomes is an…

birds & murderers; raptorama

As I write these words it’s the first day of summer and I’m sitting in my study (sounds pompous, but ‘room full of books and records where I work’ is less economical), with Atom Heart Mother playing, looking out at a beautiful sky of quilted dove-grey clouds…