The Royal Society of Literature: signing the book

Posted on June 19th 2017

A great moment: signing my name in the book which records the Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature. I’m using Byron’s pen, although I doubt it was the one he used to write Don Juan. It’s very thin, with gold filigree work on it. I suspect it was a present from one of his girlfriends.

Do trout eat mice?

Posted on September 10th 2015

It never occurred to me that trout might eat mice but sometimes they do… In the forests of North America and New Zealand, an abundance of certain seeds leads to a huge rise in the mouse population; and when that food source dries up, the mice have to migrate – sometimes swimming across rivers to find new territories to colonise…. Read more

The Skies over London

Posted on September 1st 2015

The skies over London have been amazing recently.  I took this on 27 August – shame about the washing lines but I couldn’t frame the rainbow any better


Posted on June 13th 2014

I wrote Cairo in the War: 1939-1945 almost thirty years ago, and getting a presentation together on such a complicated subject is taking up far more time than expected – although I’d forgotten how many good stories I managed to cram into the book. Then two nights ago, I sat next to someone who is involved with the Brooke Hospital… Read more

Writing Lives: Elizabeth David and Patrick Leigh Fermor

Posted on May 22nd 2014

If you are coming to the end of a celebrated life, chances are thats someone has already suggested writing your biography – a thought, as Oscar Wilde pointed out, that lends a new terror to death. The print run will be measured in thousands, and modern readers feel shortchanged unless all is revealed: sex, money, secrets, skeletons and dirty linen. The… Read more