Sunday 30 June 2013


As summer seems to have briefly returned to these islands, here's a favourite photo that I took in Marle Place Gardens, Brenchley, Kent, a few summers ago..


Tuesday 25 June 2013


He penned some of the most memorable fantasy, horror and science fiction stories of the twentieth century which, in turn, became equally memorable motion pictures: The [Incredible] Shrinking Man, Hell House, What Dreams May Come, A Stir of Echoes, Duel and I Am Legend.

Richard Matheson, who has just died at the age of 87, also wrote numerous episodes of The Twilight Zone including the celebrated Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, contributed the script for 'The Enemy Within' episode of Star Trek, adapted Edgar Allen Poe's The House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum and The Raven for Roger Corman and Dennis Wheatley's The Devil Rides Out for Hammer.

He also wrote the time-travel novel Bid Time Return that was filmed (from Matheson's screenplay), in 1980, as one of my forever-favourite movies, Somewhere in Time, with Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour (as the time-separated lovers), Christopher Plummer, the fabulous Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan, and an unforgettable score by time-united composers John Barry and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Here's a reminder of a beautiful and haunting film...

Thanks Mr Matheson. Rest in peace.

Saturday 22 June 2013


...even if we don't actually have a summer!!

Saturday 15 June 2013


Yesterday afternoon, I received an e-mail from the Tate Gallery (nice of them to get in touch, I thought) with the subject: The weekend is nearly here!

Of course, we totally take for granted that two-day respite between Friday (or, I suppose I should say) TGIF and the inevitable onslaught of that Monday morning feeling.

But whilst Saturday and Sunday have been with us since man first started numbering his days, the weekend has not always been a part of his weekly life.

Back in 1996, when I was one of the regular presenters of BBC Radio 4's Arts Programme, Kaleidoscope, I made a  feature exploring the origins of the weekend and how it has developed and been modified over the centuries.

It's all about what you were supposed to do and what you shouldn't do and how, having been invented, the weekend helped shape a nation's habits, sports and entertainments.

It was entitled, quite simply, 'Le Weekend' and if you're not run off your feet, you might like to take a listen...

Thursday 13 June 2013


The fantastically absurd and gloriously bizarre Royal Pavilion, Brighton...

Thursday 6 June 2013


When Esther Williams, who has just died in Beverley Hills, aged 91, was once asked to name her favourite leading man, she replied 'the water'!

Despite being a member of the US Olympic squad, she never achieved the Gold Medal she coveted because Hitler invaded Poland and the 1940 Olympic Games were cancelled. However, she used to say, her 'consolation prize' had been her 10-year career as a top star at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, during which time she swam an estimated 1,250 miles for the cameras, endured ruptured eardrums and a broken back from a 50-foot swan dive into MGM's $250,000 custom-built swimming pool.

Her films, outrageous extravaganzas of Busby Berkeley-choreographed aquatic ballets included Bathing Beauty, Jupiter's Darling, Dangerous When Wet, On an Island With You and Million Dollar Mermaid were examples of Hollywood escapism at its most self-indulgent and gloriously absurd and despite a life that involved various tragedies and hardships Esther Williams left a legacy of cinematic spectacle that was unique and unforgettable.

Here are a few watery memories...



Back in 2009, the Great British Public were given the opportunity of occupying the usually vacant fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square as living (and often active) statues in a project entitled One & Other, conceived by the sculptor Anthony Gormley.

A friend's relative spent an hour on the plinth and while attending her session, took a number of photos of the Square and its famous fountains. Here's one, its spume back-lit by early evening sunlight...

You can see more about the One & Other event here and you can visit the complete set of my London in Black and White Photos here

Sunday 2 June 2013


Sixty years ago today, 2 June, 1953, I was a toddler attending a street party in honour of the fact that it was the day of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation.

Here are a handful of commemorative souvenirs that – at the time – I was too young to appreciate, but which, six decades on, give me considerable delight for being so thoroughly British!

The Official Programme (Price 2/6) with black-and-white interior art by, I suspect, Eric Fraser...

...the front cover of the BBC's official publication,The Radio Times, unquestionably by Fraser...

...the cover and some pages from a booklet celebrating England's Queens, entitled Came the Fair Young Queen, published to mark the Coronation by the gentleman's clothiers, Moss Bros, with text by noted theatre critic, Eric Keown, and amazing illustrations by the wonderful (but now largely forgotten) illustrator, Anthony Groves-Raines...

And, finally, a poster by Guinness featuring the brewery's advertising animal menagerie that were so famous there was no need to display the name of the advertiser (beyond the ostrich-guzzled beer glass)...