Malt loaf

Muses and Malt Loaf: My 5 Rules for Writing

1.Sit down. The best piece of writing advice I've ever read is this: ‘Writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair’. Sitting down is a non-negotiable clause of the writer's contract. The muse, as Philip Pullman says...

New book image

New book

A few months back, I was chatting at supper to my partner’s old friend Hugo, a painter of gorgeous romantic canvases much in demand among New York collectors. He was telling me that when one of his paintings is sold, he has to resign himself to never knowing its fate and never seeing it again...

A Language As Dead as Dead Can Be image

A Language As Dead as Dead Can Be

The other day, someone asked me the question again. I’ve learned to expect it, even when I’m in the middle of what I think is a reasonably entertaining discussion of English derivatives from the Latin ‘nihil’ (kudos to the 11 year old who came up with...

Roman food

Cooking with the Romans

My partner stares incredulously at me as I try to lever yet another new cookbook into bookshelves already buckling under the weight of hundreds of culinary bestsellers. ‘How can you need another one?’ he asks weakly. ‘Need isn’t the word, my friend’, I tell him airily...

Michael K Williams as Omar Little in The Wire

Who Would Play Hortensia?

My boyfriend and I recently treated ourselves to an early Christmas present box-set of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, and our evenings are now spent happily marvelling at the charisma of Steve Buscemi while wistfully regretting our own inability to write anything half as good. Last...

Cerberus from the Cambridge Latin Course

Amo Amas Amat or How Lucrio Got His Name

Mention that you’re a Latin teacher to a new acquaintance and you tend to get one of two responses. Some people - those who for reasons of personal politics or educational ideology cleave to the idea that Latin is a ‘Good Thing’ - beam enthusiastically and say ‘Oh well done...