23 12, 2015

Cohen Claus

By |December 23rd, 2015|Uncategorized|

Recently went to Kathy’s office for their Christmas party…have I missed my vocation?

Anyway, a very happy Christmas and New Year to everyone who reads this page. Roll on 2016!

14 12, 2015

Tolstoy – Cromwell – Seoul!

By |December 14th, 2015|Uncategorized|

I have just handed back to Random my final revisions for How to Write Like Tolstoy. It seems such a long process, and I am now waiting to see if a British publisher will take the book. But I have been sent a heartening endorsement by Hilary Mantel. She began by asking if I wanted  ‘so vulgar a thing as a quote,’ but then relented and generously continued: ‘This book is a wry, critical friend to both writer and reader. […]

10 12, 2015

At the Cinema, At the Museum

By |December 10th, 2015|Uncategorized|

In New York, to Bridge of Spies (watchable, particularly for Mark Rylance, but with some awful sentimental stuff, like one killer line repeated three times, which ruins it) and to Brooklyn, from the Colm Toibin novel, which again had some sentimental moments but which was marvelous. In London, we went to the new Bond film (I thought truly awful, though watchable, but Kathy thoroughly enjoyed it).
Close to our flat was the John Soane museum, which I introduced to the children […]

7 12, 2015


By |December 7th, 2015|Uncategorized|

We traveled to London recently to have an early Christmas with the family. Guy has few days off over the New Year, because the Civil Service is like that; and Mary has swapped her festive holiday time with fellow doctors so she can have weekends free for fencing competitions. So we rented a small flat in Holborn and around Thanksgiving Day celebrated with what the children dubbed ‘Cohengiving,’ with balloons, Christmas stockings and as much festive cheer as a drizzly […]

23 11, 2015

RIP One of the World’s Great Men

By |November 23rd, 2015|Uncategorized|

At the end of last month, my ex-father-in-law Norman Moore died. One of the sadness byproducts of getting divorced from his daughter (back in 1995) was that I was cut off from him and his wife, both of whom I loved, although I did see them occasionally and our relationship remained ever warm. Norman was, quite simply, the most remarkable man I have met, loving and kind and of absolute integrity. It’s difficult to write about him, but the following […]

20 11, 2015

Life Masters

By |November 20th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Last week I went to two events honoring the writing of biography. The first was at CUNY, the City University of New York, where Gary Giddins, himself a distinguished biographer, interviewed Phyllis Rose, author of the award-winning group biography Parallel Lives, as well as lives of Virginia Woolf and Josephine Baker (an unlikely duo). Alsoon the platform was Zachary Leader, who has written a vast biography of Kingsley Amis and also the first volume of an even bigger work, the authorized […]

16 11, 2015

The Tragedy in Paris

By |November 16th, 2015|Uncategorized|

My daughter was flying back to Paris from a fencing competition in China when last week’s awful events took place. She is all right, and I get to see her this coming week when Kathy and I join her and her brothers for a family holiday in London. We have other friends who live in Paris, but they are safe, if deeply shocked. Christopher Dickey, who has been Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s Paris correspondent for years, was to have […]

13 11, 2015

Penny Wise

By |November 13th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Enthusiasts of The West Wing may recall ‘War Games’ (Series 3, Episode 6), in which Sam Seborn, played by Rob Lowe, wonders whether to do away with the American penny. The previous year (roughly, 2000), he points out to a West Wing colleague, the U.S. Mint cut 14 billion pennies, but they are worthless: the penny’s buying power has shrunk to nothing, while the buying power of the dollar is that of the quarter forty years ago. Warming to his […]

10 11, 2015

Heads Up

By |November 10th, 2015|Uncategorized|

Tour photographer MJ Kim
Three times a week my wife goes to our nearest sports club and takes Pilates lessons. She swears by them. The gym is often crowded, and one of the regulars is Paul McCartney’s wife, Nancy Shevell. Sir Paul, now 70, often comes to work out too, but whereas his wife has a regular trainer he does exercises all on his own. Apparently, he always finishes the same way — by standing on his head, for a long […]

9 11, 2015

Keeping Abreast of the Times

By |November 9th, 2015|Uncategorized|

I have been reading the memoirs of Edna O’Brien, aged 82. Back in the late 1970s, I was the junior editor at William Collins (as it then was) who had to supervise an omnibus edition of her best-known novels, for which she wrote a special introduction. I read the page proofs carefully, and was horrified when Ms. O’Brien rang me, on receiving a finished copy of the book, to complain that the printers had missed out an entire paragraph from […]