During a paper review on BBC News this morning, the subject of food banks was raised in relation to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement that hunger is a growing problem needing government support. His opponents say the problem is the poor don’t manage money well. I said managing money is difficult at all levels when […]

It’s past midnight and I’m printing off texts for this morning’s Tricycle Readers group – the last of the term. Each week I’ve expected the task of finding a story of the right length and quality for a 90 minute session to get easier, but it continues to be a challenge: a short story can […]

During a telephone interview for a writing job this week, I was asked if data was singular or plural. ‘Plural’ I gulped with fingers crossed, ‘Though people use it as both.’ After the call I went dashing to Wiktionary and was relieved to have data confirmed as a plural noun (singular, datum). I was grateful […]

The short story and poem analysed at today’s Tricycle Readers group were both by writers about whom there is little information although their writing is included in anthologies of important works. As the conversation circulated, new lines of inquiry kept presenting themselves. It was like being in a literary incident room with a team of […]

When so much online content is created without vetting systems – no sub-editors to check for sense and accuracy, spelling, grammar, style and meaning – errors will slip through. The whizziest sites are often the biggest culprits. Estate agents start lists with the term ‘comprises of’, when the correct usage is just ‘comprises’. Other common slips […]

Yesterday at one of the early heats in the national Debating Matters competition, the motion was There is no longer a need for public libraries. The argument in favour was that technology has rendered the need for public repositories of books, redundant. Kindles and the proliferation of electronically published titles provide readers with the same choice […]

The evening started well with fizzy drinks and olives in the bar of a small London theatre reviving a play once describe as ‘elusive’.  On entering the auditorium the two old miseries sitting at the end of our row reading newspapers, refused to let us pass. “You’re sitting in the middle. Enter from the other side,” […]

Storytelling is the key to all good communication. If you give an audience context and evidence within a clearly structured narrative, they are more likely to engage emotionally with the particulars, the person, the product, the politics, or the policy embodied within that story.  They will think about what they’ve heard, finding markers with which […]

Many years ago I was on a theatre awards panel. The judges had to see around 90 West End productions across 12 months. Even when a play was truly awful, there was the possibility of an award winning performance. Then there were the costumes, the lighting, the set, the sound, the direction… After a while, […]

Too often we overlook how important word placement is in the simplest of sentences. There are words that imply the same thing, but are differently nuanced. I am in a hurry, is slightly less frenetic than I am in a rush. Writers will agonise over word placement. Graham Greene wrote only 500 words a day […]