Tag Archives: Stephen Fry

Servicing Is Golden

A few doors from my humble abode there is a business known as ‘Golden’.  I don’t want to know what they do, because I’m sure the reality will disappoint the expectations inspired by their tag-line: ‘Proudly Servicing Melbourne For Forty Years’.

Whatever it is they get up to, my interest in them reaches near-feverish levels when they have garage sales.  Mostly because (can you guess?) they sell books.  For the sum of ten dollars, you are presented with a plastic bag which you may stuff to splitting with the tomes spread out on the dusty concrete floor. Continue reading


R F Brewer (B.A.)

Having written a post on the poetry of Robert Frost, I thought it might be as well to bone up on the subject of poesy a little more.

Living, as I do, in a house brimming with nerdy tomes, I had a selection to choose from.  I could read lots of poetry, or I could read lots about poetry.

I decided to read about.

Living, as I do, in a house brimming with nerdy tomes, I had a selection to choose from.  The Ode Less Travelled, by Stephen Fry?  Perhaps some Leavis, or Aristotle’s Poetics?  Johnson’s Lives of the English Poets?  Robert Graves’ The Crowning Privilege or The White Goddess?  Possibly Seamus Heaney’s magisterial The Redress of Poetry?

I settled down with something more severe.  The Art of Versification and the Technicalities of Poetry, by R F Brewer, B.A.  That’s right: he puts his Bachelor of Arts qualification down on the front cover and the title page.  We’re in good hands. Continue reading

Ten Rules For Writing A Blog

I love hearing about how writers write.  Hemingway wrote standing up – by some accounts with a carpenter’s pencil (macho: very, very macho).  Terry Jones insists that he wrote Starship Titanic in the nude.  Proust wrote in bed, in a cork-lined room.  Hunter S Thompson loaded up on anything from bourbon to Benzedrine, put a Dunhill in a cigarette holder, lit up and let rip.  Kerouac wrote on rolls of paper because he believed that individual pages imposed artificial boundaries on his prose.  Martin Amis hand-writes his fiction, but used a computer for Experience.  Clive James sometimes writes in cafes and takes a nap every afternoon.  When writing a book Stephen Fry gets up progressively earlier each day to work on it and eschews shaving.  Salman Rushdie starts writing at 10:30am and doesn’t eat lunch.

I love this kind of information because it’s essentially gossip.  The last thing I’d ever do is think that any of these snippets represented the secret to successful scribbling.  They just give my impressions about writers a local habitation and a name.

It’s puzzling, therefore, to be confronted with advice relating to writing.  And when I’m confronted with rules for becoming a writer purporting to be a signpost reading ‘Fountain of the Hippocrene: 500m’, I start to twitch a bit and bite things. Continue reading

On Reading Aloud

As children my sister and I were singularly blessed with parents who read to us, and read to us a lot.  I very much doubt that my parents were familiar with Mem Fox’s reading Decalogue: they simply knew that reading to children was, is and ever shall be crucial. Continue reading

Adams’ Apples

Who wrote this?

“We notice things that don’t work.  We don’t notice things that do.  We notice computers, we don’t notice pennies.  We notice e-book readers, we don’t notice books.”

It could almost be George Orwell.  It’s just about tight and sharp enough and it’s got something of the Orwell sense of balance and lissomness… but Orwell didn’t live to encounter computers, let alone e-book readers, and I can’t quite see him scribbling down ‘pennies’.

It was Douglas Adams.

Or this:

“In the old Soviet Union they used to say that anything that wasn’t forbidden was compulsory; the trick was to remember which was which.”

Now that could have been Clive James.  It’s politically astute, aphoristic and it all turns on the final clause: a neat colloquial noun and the fine consonant resonance of the final three words.  It contains at least two little turns that James learned from Orwell (and improved upon) – and I think James would be the first to admit it.

But it was Douglas Adams. Continue reading

An Eagerly Anticipated Fry-Up

As you can see here the polymathic (and for all I know polyrhythmic) Mr. Stephen Fry is currently sealed up in a mountain fastness working his fingers to the bone on the second volume of his autobiography.  The work in progress will pick up the story where the enigmatically named Moab is my Washpot (the title is the start of a line from Psalm 60, although its significance to Fry himself is anyone’s guess) left off.

Those who know Fry as – do take a deep breath here –  a member of the Cambridge Footlights (his contemporaries included Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, and Tony Slattery), or as the slightly taller half of Fry and Laurie, or as Jeeves in the television series Jeeves and Wooster (which also starred Laurie), or as Melchett in the Blackadder series, or as the director of Bright Young Things, or as the host of QI, or as Peter Kingdom in the ITV series Kingdom, or as the presenter of Stephen Fry in America, or as a presenter, with Mark Carwardine, of Last Chance to See, or as Oscar Wilde in the film Wilde, or as…  Anyway: people who know him for all that might be shocked to know that – somehow – he manages to find the time to write, as well.

And to write well, as well, if you see what I mean. Continue reading