This beautiful phone box reminded me of something that Edward Hopper might have painted, had he ever passed through England at some point. This photo was taken two weeks ago in a small hidden village two miles from the town of Stroud.

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Some people think it necessary to dump a blog onto the Internet every day. Not the author of this web site. We’ve got it down to a fine art of once every nine months.

Most extraordinary but no TV company has taken up my previous suggestion of launching a reality TV showwhere sub primal bankers, hedge fund managers, Berlusconi and Madoff & Co are given a multiple dunking in a slimy Russian lake on a pay to view broadcast basis every Sunday night after the Antiques Road Show.

THE SANTA MONICA SUICIDE CLUB is in its final few months of gestation and looking good on the ultra scan. It’s going to be a boy but one with a girl’s name. No more information until February 2010.

It’s never a good idea to read too much when writing a novel but here are three books I would recommend:


Fascinating to read about Chandler’s early life, his subsequent battles with alcohol, and devoted obsessive love for his wife Cissy. And that his first novel, The Big Sleep was not published until he was 51. Also that he attended Dulwich College, the same school as the great PG Wodehouse

THE LADY IN THE LAKE –by Raymond Chandler.

Muscular, tough and often funny story that takes you in into the fictional world of Bay City (Santa Monica) and Gray Lake (Silverlake). The book provides a great peepshow into a 1930’s unsentimental world of a private detective, bad cops, secretaries wearing nylons, men wearing hats, uppers and downers, loneliness, violence and despair.

Did anyone find out whether Chandler and Wodehouse had the same English teacher at Dulwich College?

CHILD 44 – by Tom Rob Smith

A serious thriller set in Stalin’s Russia. Partly based on a true story this is beautifully written novel is disturbingly compulsive and something to keep you up all night. Makes one think about what Russian people have had to endure over the last eighty years.


Three recent films I would strongly recommend are:

  • FISH TANK- directed by ANDREA ARNOLD

All three films are beautifully made and are totally different from the others. One set in Essex, England, one in Mexico and one in Rome.  See them on DVD, if they are not at your local cinema but please see them. Should any one of these directors feel inclined to direct TAKING LEAVE… we of nine monthly updated web sites would be honoured and delighted.


An appeal to the owners of Home Box Office Inc to create a European based broadcasting network.  To fund, make and broadcast film and television material in Europe.  Run the network on a subscription basis where viewers could see new movies and television drama no longer being made by British broadcasters. A channel that could show movies from all over the world, uncut versions of films such as Revolutionary Roadand US TV shows such as Weeds and John Adams.
Begin it now, please.


Grave news (well, nearly.). Plans for the greatest state funeral since that of Queen Boadicea were nearly set in motion recently.

To summarise, having breakfasted on minced quail and Weetabix, Ecco was chauffeur driven to Cattersea Park for her morning constitutional. As per tradition, once inside, 99% of other dogs and their human owners bowed, nodded or curtseyed as she trotted past. The sun was shining, the air full of resplendent dog smells, another perfect dog day morning… until suddenly… a slobbering white Staffordshire Bull Terrier shot out from beneath a park bench, pinned Ecco to the ground and sank its teeth into her neck and wouldn’t let go. Blood, fur, yelps, and barking accompanied by Mrs Thomas’s screaming replaced the tranquillity of Cattersea Park. The owner of the Staff tried to pull his dog away from Ecco, so did a distraught Mrs Thomas, other brave souls tried, but still the bull terrier’s teeth sunk even deeper into Ecco’s neck, blood now spurting like a children’s playground fountain. A swat team in a helicopter arrived overhead, a man shouted through megaphones but the Staff remained firm in its wish to terminate Ecco. Something had to be done, before it was too late! Just then a ghostly figure of a large black cat ambled up to the psycho dog and sank both sets of front claws into the dog’s nether regions. The effect was instantaneous. The dog yelped a high pitch scream, released Ecco from its jaws and charged off at high speed after the athletic cat…

Ecco was air lifted to a private clinic in Chelsea and given emergency surgery. After nine and a half weeks of recuperation she was able to return home to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. Mrs Thomas shed a tear of relief and took herself of to Moscow to see Patrick Barlow’s ‘The 39 Steps.’ Meanwhile many other people are wondering just who that brave black cat is…

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