Tara Sparling writes

To all and sundry* a big hello. Now that I’m back to blogging, but before I return to the nefarious narcissism of the Superblogger, I thought I’d interrupt that particular bile with my customary speciality – dubious writing advice.

In 2015, the restaurant critic and broadcaster Giles Coren made a programme for Sky Arts called “My Failed Novel”. In it, he explored the possible reason why a decade before, his one and only fiction novel, Winkler, failed in fairly spectacular fashion, both commercially and critically.

17 Pieces of Excellent Writing Advice In One Handy Post Giles Coren (happy)

Because Coren is a minor celebrity in the UK, it meant he got to interview a lot of heavy hitters (the like of whom you might pay actual money to hear speak at a literary festival, for instance). Immediately I saw it, I thought: good grief, that’s jampacked full of advice and insight! I should put some of it into a…

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A tribute today to comedian Arthur “Arte” Johnson (b. 1929). Johnson broke into television in the mid-50s, often playing nebbishy types (vertically challenged and bespectacled as Johnson is). His career breakthrough came as part of the founding cast of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In in 1967, which remains his best known affiliation. The groundbreaking comedy variety show made stars out of most of its cast members. Johnson became so popular he was able to leverage top billing (after Rowan and Martin). His most popular characters were the Nazi soldier who would periodically emerge from behind a potted plant and say “Veddy interesting…” and “Tyrone”, a dirty old man in a series of blackout sketches with Ruth Buzzi .


 I’ve always loved the sheer ritual of these bits he did with Buzzi. It always goes in threes. Johnson’s character (“Tyrone”)  would join Buzzi’s “Gladys” on a park bench and venture to say…

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