jack told him about the thing – updating children’s books

  There’s a strange moment near the beginning of the 1982 Puffin Books edition of Robert Westall’s Fathom Five (1979): Dad never talked about Life and its Meanings; only fried bread and thrushes. ‘What’s got you up so early?’ Jack told him about the thing…

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….

music of my mind (whether I like it or not)

  Since the age of 13 or so, music has been an important part of my life. I have written about it for various places, including here, here, here, here and, um, here, but more than that, I listen to music that I don’t have…

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…

church, going*

But superstition, like belief, must die, And what remains when disbelief has gone? Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky, A shape less recognisable each week, A purpose more obscure. Philip Larkin, Church Going (1954) Given that Christianity seemed to be – in the sense of…

chocolate eggs & bunnies & blood: happy Easter!

Imagine a culture so centred on wealth, property and power that it becomes scared of sex and  frets endlessly about what it sees as the misuses of sex. A culture that identifies breeding so closely with with money, wealth and status, and women so closely…

forget my fate: the art of violence & martyrdom

  In a way, this article concerns religious art, though the person who wrote it has no religious beliefs whatsoever. But when people really, passionately, even if unconsciously, believe – in a religion, a philosophy, an idea – that belief imbues the works they create,…

cycle; woods and fields and little rivers

  With apologies to Paul Gorman, whose beautifully written accounts of bike rides partly influenced this article, although Paul actually knows about cycling and I don’t; this is essentially a surrogate fast walk. I thought I’d take to the roads early (just before 7.30 am)…