Sixteen people one house two tutors seven days. Who goes you decide.

On Tuesday night at The Dorchester in London I am missing a special dinner with amongst others Naomi Campbell and Linton Kwesi Johnson. Instead I am here in the heart of the Shropshire countryside. I spent the week eating sleeping waking and tutoring in The country home of Late English playwright John Osborne. . There are two houses in thirty acres of manicured land with a picture book “lake”. Read more [...]

It’s all about the journey.

She’s from Canada and the guy a sort of Englishman, both late twenties. She seems not to come up for air and her Canadian sentences run into each other as if linked in one continuous square dance to a violin loop caught in a sample machine. And he being English is talking little and accepting her unending filling in of gaps like a linguistic bricklayer on speed. In truth, she’s doing the work and he’s being lazy. And the more conversationally lazy he becomes the more socially panicky she becomes and the two seem to be getting along fine. And maybe, just maybe, he’s listening and maybe she likes that. It’s a tricky contract. Read more [...]

Journey’s end

Meanwhile The Journalist is in the paper today having interviewed the woman who invented the Mobo awards. We finish up. Shobna goes to the national to meet a friend meanwhile my friend Carla who is performing at the national, is waiting in the festival hall writing. I’m in a sort of funny mood so spend the next half an hour or so making Carla laugh – not sure whether she’s laughing at me rather than with me. We discuss literature too. I wave goodbye Read more [...]

An Englsih Journey by JB Priestley

I am writing virtually each morning from 6am on the city commission. It’s enlivening. There is no better place for a writer to be than in his writing for a section of each day. Though I find it difficult to make the time it is not impossible and is, in fact, a must. Bike it to the south bank with language swilling round in my head. I meet Thomas Priestley the son of JB Priestley who has asked me to write an introduction to his late fathers book An English Journey about which I presented a couple of documentaries on BBC Radio 4 a few years ago. Read more [...]

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

The thing about being here in the day is that I then bike home simultaneaously writing this on my lap top to you - tricky stuf y'know- and when I get home I will spend at least two hours responding to the daily tide of emails. If you don't put the work in you don't get to work out. ANd if you don't work out you get lazy and if you get lazy you miss the essential quality of life and living. Or you could say I am talking bollox which is never a bad thing in the right place. Read more [...]

Journey to the end of the earth.

She has just finished producing and directing To Sir with Love by ER Braithwaite broadcast on Sunday. We catch up and the intervening years seem to fade away and radiate. Starring in Claire’s version of To Sir With love on radio 4 is Kwame Kwei-Armah. The film was brought out in 1967 the year of my birth but the book was written and published in the late fifties. Claire has used the book as her inspiration and retells me the story of her meeting ER Braithwaite who famously despised the film. Though show is on Sunday and in two parts. Click here. After an hour or two of warm conversation and laughs Claire bikes off back across the Thames. Read more [...]

Eating Cheese after Carmen Jones

I’ve been at the South bank since about 11.30am today and I’ve been there each day since Tuesday morning: Monday to Thursday last week too. I start around 10.30am and end around 4pm to five. At the moment I want to be there as much as possible. I’ll tell you what I am actually doing there once the Southbank blog is up and running. I am hot desking at the moment, and it is kinda cool. It means I get to meet different people in the organisation , it’s kinda fun and challenging too. I’ve been self employed for fifteen eyars now, a stark contrast to the arts institution.Today, the woman sat next to me who used to work at ENO and loves working here allowed me two tickets to see Carmen Jones. Read more [...]

Roll Call of The Dead

Last night I received a text from Dave Haslam my friend and former Hacienda DJ. It’s for Mark E Smith of The Fall. I’ve been seeking it out for a week for an event at The South Bank on 9th November in it’s new space – The Spirit Level. On the same night Dave presented his regular show on XFM Manchester. It was a tribute to Anthony H Wilson. The show featured tributes from Peter Hook of Joy Division Vinni Riley of durutti column, Mike Pickering Sean Ryder of Happy Mondays Noel Gallagher Clint Boon and Ian McCulloch and more including myself. You can download the entire programme on podcast. Vinni Reilly’s requiem is absolutely astounding and Peter Hook’s Roll Call of the dead Manchester heroes is incredible radio. Read more [...]