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Madrid, Spain
Hack turned flack living in Madrid with three kids hoping one day to be able to read Arturo Perez Reverte in his native Spanish...
Interests: wine, cooking, family, historical fiction, rugby, crime fiction, us civil war, biography, cricket, american football
Recent Activity
Sometimes the books you don't read because they're the books everyone tells you that you have to read turn out to be the books you should read. So it was for me with Dickens (and George Eliot and others) but... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2024 at Material Witness
One of the great disadvantages of Kindle - and there are many - is that the browsing experience is terrible and certainly doesn't touch the joy of spending an hour in a bookshop. I don't think, for example, I'd ever... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2024 at Material Witness
"The greatest lie that humans ever told is that the Earth is ours, and at our disposal," writes Katherine Rundell in her magnificent and magical book The Golden Mole, which tells the story of 21 of Earth's most fascinating creatures.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2024 at Material Witness
Does any other writer do as much with as few words as Claire Keegan? Her three novellas - Foster, So Late in the Day and Small Things Like These - were among the reading highlights of 2023. Each ran only... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2024 at Material Witness
The most obvious response to Rory Stewart's thoroughly satisfying political memoir Politics on the Edge is what a tragedy it was that when this thoughtful, diligent and serious politician put himself forward as the next leader of his party in... Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2023 at Material Witness
Whenever anyone asks whether any good still comes of the battlefield that is Twitter, my first response is always, "books". A steady flow of great book recommendations has come from Twitter, often leading me to titles and writers I might... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2023 at Material Witness
I'm very much a "start at the beginning" reader. Book one is called Bruno, Chief of Police. I've not read Gunther yet, but I suspect these are quite different...
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On a hillside outside of the bastide town of Beaumont-du-Périgord sits a renovated farmhouse with incomparable views of the walls and 13th Century fortified church of this medieval settlement. It is beautiful, peaceful and eternal. I've spent countless blissful evenings... Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2023 at Material Witness
It took me two hours to watch the final episode of season two of The Bear. The show itself is about 40 minutes . The additional 80 were mostly spent not wanting the season to come to an end and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2023 at Material Witness
Dennis Lehane blesses us with new novels all too infrequently. Small Mercies, published in April, is the first in six years and a powerful reminder of just what we've been missing while he's been in Hollywood writing, among others, the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2023 at Material Witness
There's no bad time to read a new book from Peter Hanington, the Radio 4 producer turned thriller writer who forced his way into the top tier of British spy novelists with his first William Carver novel in 2016. But... Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2023 at Material Witness
One of the great strengths of Amanda Craig’s novels is that she is able to keep so many different ideas and themes alive in the same story but without complicating the narrative. The joy of reading her books is that... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2023 at Material Witness
How Madrid, and Velázquez, taught me to appreciate art Room 30 of London’s National Gallery is hardly off the beaten track. From the Central Hall you wonder past Canaletto, take a left at Turner and then again at the 17th... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2023 at Material Witness
In the spring of 1998, the year-old Labour government of Tony Blair fulfilled one of its manifesto promises by giving Londoners a referendum on reviving City-wide government in the capital, 12 years after Margaret Thatcher shut down the Greater London... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2023 at Material Witness
Between the 90th and 95th minutes of Atlético de Madrid’s 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad in their final home game of the season, Antoine Griezmann made three critical interventions around his own penalty area. With his side defending a narrow... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2023 at Material Witness
It is the season of goodbyes. Tomorrow we bid farewell to the ghastly Roy family and next week will see Ted Lasso's last match on the sidelines at AFC Richmond (why you should watch Ted Lasso). I'll miss both of... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2023 at Material Witness
Andrew Taylor's fine historical fiction has been a favourite of this blog over a number of years. Taylor has always been capable of delivering the critical detail and atmosphere to wrap around his strong narratives and memorable characters. His writing... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2023 at Material Witness
Will they or won't they? That's the question, the golden thread of tension that's been keeping Jane Casey's reader guessing since she first introduced the fatal attraction between DS Maeve Kerrigan and her boss DI Josh Derwent. The relationship has... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2023 at Material Witness
Sir John Gielgud played Hamlet for the first time in 1929. There can surely be nobody left alive who saw it. Gielgud directed Richard Burton as Hamlet in 1964. There should be a few folk around who saw that, but... Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2023 at Material Witness
Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth in the Ford Theatre in Washington DC on April 15th 1865. It’s a racing certainty that everyone embarking on Booth, Karen Joy Fowler’s brilliant historical novel recounting the history of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2023 at Material Witness
So farewell then, Dr Ruth Galloway - archeologist, teacher, single mother, investigator and much admired companion through 16 novels. When I picked the first of these 16 books up in the summer of 2019, I'm not sure I'd have been... Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2023 at Material Witness
The Vanishing Man is an incredible feat of story-telling. It is entertaining, compelling and rich in detail, and Cumming writes beautifully about a subject that feels intensely personal to her. I can’t recommend the book highly enough, for its passion and emotion, for its insight into the world of art, for the mystery of the Reading portrait and most of all for bringing us just that little bit closer to Velázquez and helping me to understand better his genius. Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2023 at Material Witness
On Sunday I ran the Barcelona half marathon with my daughter, Tilly for whom it´s part of the training for the London marathon at the end of April. It’s always an interesting experience, and this time I recorded my wildly... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2023 at Material Witness
Babylon Berlin is as good as any historical or police drama I can recall watching. If its language were English you’d have seen it, read about it and watched it picking up awards by the wagon load. It is intelligent, beautiful, shocking and instructive television that opens up the heart of one of the most fascinating and pivotal moments in modern history and exposes its twisted, dark and bloody insides. Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2023 at Material Witness