• Scarlett Johansson Gets Under The Skin

    Velcro books. You probably have a few: those quiet, quirky novels that you relentlessly recommend. They’re not blockbusters; you most likely stumbled across them by chance. And although you find it difficult to describe precisely why you find them so compelling, you just want other people to h

  • James Bond: Trash or Art?

    Indulge me in a little exercise. Open a new tab on your browser, enter Amazon.co.uk and type ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ into the search bar. After multiple DVDs, CDs and audio downloads (but thankfully before the OPI nail varnish, ‘retro maxi poster’, 1:36th scale Aston Martin DBS

  • The Hollow Crown @ The BBC

    Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more. Only this time bring us proper screen stars. Poirot; The Pope; Loki; that lawyer lass off the telly; that French bird that looks like a ferret. And filmic production values. Gilded tents, monkeys, wibbling lemon posset breats, ye olde stinking

  • ‘Appy birfday, Mister Dikkins!

    What to write? He said it all, literally. As we celebrate Dickens’s 200th birthday, this is definitely the year to go back and remember why Charles really does deserve his hype.

    Sure, watch the adaptations, but be selective. Lean is mandatory. Andrew Davies’ exemplary 2005 Bleak House for th

  • The multiplex addict’s guide to slightly braver cinema

    It’s that time of year when we start to feel the good film itch. Despite the odd much-hyped festival import summer has never been a great season for flicks. So what if the screens are full of prequels, sequels, Vikings and B-list rom coms? We’re supposed to be out sipping Pimms in the suns

  • Radio matters

    It’s a wonderful scene.

    A pillared and statued monument to 1920s Britishness presides over the theatreland bustle of Aldwych, scarred from wartime bombing but defiantly upright, an inscription upon the Portland stone portico dedicating the colossus “to the friendship of English speaking peoples

  • The Great Gatsby

    Reading a really famous book for the first time is a strange experience.

    It has taken me twenty-eight years to get to The Great Gatsby. This alarming fact stems from an early wariness of American classics (Henry James’ earnestness makes me want to laugh; Hemingway’s Ernestness makes me want to sc

  • The perfect parting shot

    It is occurring somewhere in the world right now. In bedrooms and corridors, parks and cars, kitchens and meeting rooms, our maws give it birth. It has no name but we all know the taste of it, the sound of it, the shame of it, intimately.

    In the decisive throes of our godawful row, we are tak

  • And I don’t mention Ikea once

    Boys had all the fun. I didn’t understand why they got to eat more, and talk louder, and be left alone. In my fantasies I was the hard-riding hero, not the swooning dame. At some unremembered threshold age, quietly taken aside, I was sent back out scowling with a vest on, while they got to tussle wi

  • Costume drama

    A set of armour, a pair of red shoes, a charcoal dressing-gown: my cultural week has been spent crouched inside a wardrobe, hangers clacking with memory and desire.

    Giving up shopping since Christmas has been a welcome release, allowing me to appreciate beautiful clothes without constantly holdin

  • Box set one-upmanship

    This box set one-uppery has got to stop.

    Status anxiety has a new best friend in the water cooler battleground of must-watch TV. Bad enough to have missed the GROUNDBREAKING NEW TELEVISUAL EVENT when it was actually on (what were you doing, for God’s sake – like, talking?); if you haven’t yet col

  • Being There

    Some lines of poetry just refuse to give up their juju. However over-quoted they are, however often rid of context and subtlety, however relentlessly pushed upon us in pastel-covered self-help compilations like poetic prescription drugs, they simply will not yield their freshness to ubiquity. John D