Thursday, 28 June 2012


I spent last week in a different world. At home in Cornwall, it's cold and  "the rain it raineth every day" - and has done for months. On holiday in Corfu, the sky was cloudless for a whole week, and on the day we left the temperature was edging up to the high 90s (fahrenheit).The island seemed as beautiful and peaceful as always, without evidence of unrest or political trouble - except for the fact that there were half the usual number of tourists.We would have enjoyed the relative emptiness if it wasn't so obvious that the Corfiotes need their visitors - or rather, need their money.
My friend Joanna Hodgkin was on the island at the same time and kindly let me accompany her when she spoke about her new book to Durrell enthusiasts. Books by  Lawrence Durrell, the first husband of Joanna's mother Nancy, and his brother Gerald Durrell, have attracted many visitors to Corfu and there was a good turn out to listen to Jo.
That aside, for  seven days we forgot "real life" - though my one reminder of it was very welcome - a kind review of The Fifties Mystique, published in The Jewish Chronicle,  by Rabbi and Life Peer Julia Neuberger.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

An unexpected compliment:

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THE WEEK Magazine’s books of the week  page in the edition of 16th June – with The Fifties Mystique  as one of them!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


Those of you who write probably have cuttings albums or scrap books, both of your own work and its reviews. I wonder what you do now that one can't always cut out and stick in a physical copy? As for the shelf of books with my  name on the spine, how does one add e-books to that? Perhaps I am unusually vain even to have, let alone to get pleasure out of the sight of  shelves containing books by me; and it could be that those who have been journalists all their lives never took the trouble to save  the printed versions of their work.

I do. There are cuttings albums for the weekly columns, think pieces, travel writing and book reviews. (Pieces other people have written about me are not stuck in an album but shoved into a box and not looked at again .)  So my question is about online journalism. Today for example, the tribute site to Reginald Hill set up by  Rhian Davies and Margot Kinberg published a piece by me:

Last week the online book review site, Bookoxygen, used my review of a brilliant novel Kingdom of Strangers by  Zoe Ferraris.

And then there are the e-books - two so far, Telling Only  Lies and A Private Inquiry.

Do other people value such intangible  assets? And if so, how do they look after them?


Thursday, 7 June 2012

Another silly idea

As if they hadn’t had to eat enough of  their  own words about the pasty tax and several other un-thought-through policies, apparently the Coalition government has announced its next  counterproductive plan: to remove oldies’ benefits from all but the very poor. Maybe fair enough, as concerns free TV licenses and winter fuel; but if they stop the bus passes, won’t we all just start driving again? Perhaps they haven’t noticed that there are enough cars in town centres already……….