Who’s louder, Harpo Marx or Sergei Rachmaninoff?

Have you heard about the musical duel between Harpo Marx and Sergei Rachmaninoff? Craig Brown recounts the story in One on One, his book about extraordinary encounters between famous people. (There’s a reason why I’m writing about this now. I’ll come to that later.) Harpo’s Hollywood retreat In 1931, Harpo Marx had taken an apartment […]

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Busting ageist myths: Joan’s story

“The other day, it was lunchtime, boiling hot, 23 degrees, and I was sitting in the park wearing my bikini,” says Joan, who’s 82. “A woman walked past and said, ‘How wonderful that you’re doing that. I wish I had the guts to do what you’re doing.’ And I said, ‘Do it! Why not?’ Nobody […]

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Rising stars align for Mr Handel

Once again, I was delighted to take part in a project with writers’ group 26 on behalf of the Bloomsbury Festival. This year, the theme is ‘Shining a light’. I chose to highlight a performance at the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury that will showcase the talents of rising singing stars. This piece first appeared here […]

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Stitching stories of hope and beauty from prison

Since before the pandemic (hard to recall, I know), I’ve been working on the editorial team for a new book, Threads of Time. It celebrates 25 years of Fine Cell Work, the charity that helps rehabilitate prisoners by teaching them needlework skills. Our Crowdfunder for the book goes live today. Do please support this book […]

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Are sticks dangerous for dogs?

For most dogs, any stick that you can chew to pieces is a good stick. This could be because a stick is shaped a bit like a bone, because they enjoy a good jaw workout, or because they’re bored and chewing on a stick helps pass the time. I recently wrote a blog for YuMOVE, […]

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Dickens and a day at the races

A visit to Doughty Mews inspires a piece about Dickens for the 2020 Bloomsbury Festival. As part of a project for the Bloomsbury Festival with writers’ group 26, I was allocated a small square of the map in Bloomsbury, central London. “Go there, find a story and write about it,” they told me. I discovered […]

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Protecting the forests of Indonesia

Protecting the rainforests of Indonesia The Environmental Investigation Agency asked me to write a charity appeal to go to their supporters, highlighting an urgent situtation that was threatening the Indonesian rainforest. Using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse, the Indonesian Ministry of Trade announced that it was going to water down its timber laws. Environmentally, […]

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Stringing Words Together: keeping creativity flowing

Keeping creativity flowing Say what you like about Zoom, but it does help you make things happen quickly. In May, Andy Hayes of the writers’ collective 26 organised a ‘creativity in lockdown’ session with his friend Sam Griffiths. Sam’s a designer who delights in being playful and enjoys turning labels into robots, and cardboard boxes […]

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How to manage your mind in a pandemic

How can you control your anxiety during a pandemic? We’re bombarded by news with headlines designed to terrify us: ‘global pandemic’, ‘rising death rate’, ‘temporary mortuary’. The economy is tanking worldwide, many have lost their livelihoods and don’t know when or how they will get them back. We fear for our own health, and for […]

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The everyday joy of mindful creative writing

Mindful creative writing doesn’t have to involve meditating on a mountain top with a notebook by your side, or looking out across an Alpine lake, with a pen in one hand and a glass of kombucha in the other. It’s something you can do in a café or during your lunch break. You can write […]

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Help protect the forest elephants of Africa

I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with the Environmental Investigation Agency on their winter appeal to protect the forest elephants of Africa. The charity does amazing work to tackle environmental crime worldwide. So if you possibly can, please do support their work. The plight of the forest elephants of Africa The forest elephants of […]

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Looking for the creative leap

A day as a writer in residence at the Bloomsbury Festival As part of the 26 group of writers, I was asked to spend a day as a writer in residence at the Bloomsbury Festival this year. My task was to attend festival events and write about what I saw going on around me. Here’s […]

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Ten tips for corporate video interviews

What’s the best way to interview people for corporate video content? I’ve always loved interviewing people, whether it’s a contortionist, a climber or a naturist vicar. But usually I’m sitting opposite someone with a tape recorder or typing away madly on the end of a phone. Here’s what I learned from my first time standing […]

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How to be creative: five ideas from The Story 2019

What helps you be creative? Speakers shared their ideas last week at The Story 2019, a one-day festival of storytelling held in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London. Here are five of the best. 1. Investigate random objects Creator and performer Alison S M Kobayashi loves to investigate random things, like the tapes left in […]

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