Character Feature: Gene Hunt

Welcome to the first edition of a new feature for this blog where I focus on my favourite characters and discuss why I feel they are incredible creations.

Warning: There may be spoilers in the following article

Gene: “They reckon you’ve got concussion but I couldn’t give a tart’s furry cup if half your brains are falling out… don’t ever waltz into my kingdom acting king of the jungle.”

Sam: “Who the hell are you?”

Gene: “Gene Hunt – your DCI and it’s 1973. Almost dinner time. I’m having hoops!”

Sam Tyler and Alex Drake may have been the stars of Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes respectively but it was their DCI Gene Hunt that stole both shows. In a television world saturated with crime dramas and the modern police methods of forensic science, interview techniques and psychological profiling, he is a throwback to another time.Continue reading “Character Feature: Gene Hunt”

Writing the seasons: Summer

Summer is the pinnacle of the life of the seasons. I love the warmth that (should) be everywhere. In southern England the sun rises something like 4am and by 5am it is usually already warm. If you are ever awake at this time, I can recommend going for a walk and listening to the silence. Similarly at night, gone 10pm it is usually still quite light and the warmth is everywhere. It is a happy season, birds sing all day and night. Sit in the garden in the evenings and you can hear the fluttering of bats as they feast on the veritable banquest of midges and other insects. In England, we have become used to having mixed weather. Typically, summer rain is warm and disperses a very pleasant smell.Continue reading “Writing the seasons: Summer”

Book Review: The Incredible Human Journey by Dr Alice Roberts

You can’t help but like Dr Alice Roberts. Though best known as a co-presenter on the BBC series Coast, she has been involved in a number of other TV projects of which this was the most noteworthy. We appreciate her for the passion for her subject, her infectious smile and childlike excitement as well as a reluctant sex symbol for men who like nerdy, intelligent women with an inner child for anthropology. It must be noted that she is no mere eye candy or real life Dana Scully, but an accomplished academic, a qualified Medical Doctor and much respected contributor to engaging the public in science.

The book is written atypically for a popular science book, like a travelogue. Roberts wants us to take an interest in the people, the places and the journey she takes before she imparts her knowledge of genetics and human migration. Because of this the prose is colourful and engaging. The only other book I can think of written in this style is Jared Diamond’s Collapse: Why Complex Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. It worked well for that book too.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Incredible Human Journey by Dr Alice Roberts”

Book Review: A Journey in Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor

He is known as the most high-profile victim of the Titanic disaster that happened 100 years ago last week. Philanthropist, businessman and part of the American high society of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, John Jacob Astor IV published this futuristic tale in 1894 about a journey around our solar system and man’s attempts to colonise his neighbours. I am absolutely astounded by the vision of the future that he created and the technologies he envisaged would exist in the year 2000:Continue reading “Book Review: A Journey in Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor”

Book Review: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (US title: Midnight Riot)

Peter Grant is a thoroughly modern Copper. He loves beer, curries and football, he fancies his professional partner, has become cynical about being in uniform, has a love-hate relationship with the city of London and generally tries to get on in life while avoiding being pushed into a dull desk job. Yet when called to the scene of a bizarre murder, not to help with the investigation, but to stand guard so rubberneckers don’t spoil the crime scene he is quite surprised to be given a statement by a ghost who – despite being dead – is more than happy to be a good citizen in reporting what he had seen. This begins a voyage for Peter where he meets the last Wizard left in England who just happens to be a Police Inspector.Continue reading “Book Review: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (US title: Midnight Riot)”

The Power of Words #2: The Public Apology

“I’m sorry but this constant demand for public apologies really offends me” so says comedian David Mitchell. I think he’s right. The demand for and dishing out of public apologies for everything everywhere for misdemeanours committed by whomever from the dawn of recorded history to the present day has become a fetish in public life and I have to wonder where it will all stop.Continue reading “The Power of Words #2: The Public Apology”

Writing the seasons: Spring

This is the first of a series of advice pieces I want to do this year. It will (obviously) consist of four articles (actually it might contain a fifth if I choose to do a Christmas special – Christmas is so different from the rest of winter), one for each season, The reason I am choosing to do this is that sometimes I get frustrated when reading a book and wondering what time of year it is supposed to be set. I became conscious of it reading The Passage last year and feeling that the novel had a very autumnal atmosphere to it. Though that was probably more to do with the theme and the landscape suffering a slow death than anything else, it got me thinking about how we define the seasons and portray them in our prose.Continue reading “Writing the seasons: Spring”

Site of the Week: Evernote

It is not always easy researching and saving stuff for later perusal. It is sometimes difficult if you are struck with inspiration when you only have your mobile phone with you. And what if you have bits of everything everywhere all over your laptop? What if you could all of your notes and snippets in one place and have ready access to it on your phone. There may be a solution to these unscheduled inspiration attacks in Evernote, a cloud-based mobile-desktop software package. It could be a useful research tool for writers or a virtual notebook for different types of media.Continue reading “Site of the Week: Evernote”

Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Despite my gushing love for American Gods, Neil Gaiman’s other best known work (and arguably better known because the TV series came before the book) still holds a special place in my heart.

Neverwhere, I think, was the TV series that introduced me to modern urban fantasy. Co-written by Lenny Henry, there is something very British about the story and style of writing (ignoring the London setting) that has become Gaiman’s hallmark.Continue reading “Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman”

The Power of Words #1: Advertising

This is the first of a series of discussion pieces that I want to do this year on how we use and manipulate, or are manipulated by words. Language is a powerful tool and in the wrong hands can be a strong weapon. Despite the old saying words can hurt and do cause damage.

Commercial Advertising

Advertising is arguably the most prevalent method by which words are used (and abused) to persuade us to a certain point of view.Continue reading “The Power of Words #1: Advertising”