The Giant’s Last Stand

Roald Dahl always had a gift for grab openings; dark, portentous first lines that yanked his young audiences by their shirt-collars, leaving them powerless to do anything other than nervously read on. (‘Until he was four, James had led a happy life.’) Introducing himself to me over the phone one lunchtime in May 1988 heContinue reading “The Giant’s Last Stand”

A Link in a Chain: Memories of the 2012 London Olympics

A piece I wrote for The Radio Times back during the unforgettable summer of 2012, when I volunteered as a ‘Games Maker’ at the London Olympics. It was 9.48pm inside a tunnel at London’s Olympic Stadium when I got perhaps the worst-timed tap on the shoulder of my life.It was the second Sunday night ofContinue reading “A Link in a Chain: Memories of the 2012 London Olympics”

Venturing into the world of animals.

Whenever anyone asks me how I ended up writing so frequently about our relationship with animals, I generally point them in the direction of this Guardian article, written way back in 2007 under one of my pseudonyms, Augustus Brown. All the clues are there. I was seven when a large sow taught me one ofContinue reading “Venturing into the world of animals.”

Call in the Cavalry

(First published as part of the Aitken Alexander isolation series in April, 2020.) I was drinking a morning coffee in the sunshine when I noticed him. Splayed out on the grass. Limbs akimbo. Without a care in the world.  He’d found the sunniest spot in our London garden and was absorbing every irradiated ounce ofContinue reading “Call in the Cavalry”

Fifty years ago…

…In June 1970, I was a twelve-year-old schoolboy, hopelessly obsessed with the World Cup finals. I spent as much time as my father would allow glued to the household’s large, rather ungainly new colour television set. Russia v. Mexico, England v. Czechoslovakia and Rumania, highlights of Israel v. Italy, I watched the lot. What littleContinue reading “Fifty years ago…”