When Ian (Hislop) Met Anna (Chen): Who Should We Let In?

As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself three years ago to serve out a period of Trappist silence, which commenced when I realised I was not, at the time, capable of writing anything of interest even to myself, let alone anybody else, a silence broken only by a piece mourning the departure of David Bowie.

I’m now determined to be a better friend to the world, so I’m kicking this site back into some semblance of life. THERE WILL BE STUFF.


Anna Chen on Victorian and Edwardian-era Yellow Peril fears with Ian Hislop on Who Should We Let In?


In the meantime, as an appetiser, a reminder that Ian Hislop’s rather excellent BBC documentary/polemic Who Should We Let In?, anatomising originally shown by BBC2 on Thursday 22nd June, is still available on BBC iPlayer until the end of July.

And, of course, it features a sparkling guest appearance by Anna Chen, who tells you all about it here.

Check it! And let’s meet again soon …

Charles Shaar Murray and Bex Marshall visit the Ozarks


… that’s Ozark Guitars, not the celebrated US mountain range after which the brand of exquisite acoustic guitars is named. Mi sistah-in-blues, the awesomely talented Bex Marshall, is a major user of these fine instruments and since she was about to pay a visit to the headquarters of Stentor, Ozark’s parent company, to get a couple of her road-battered Ozark resonator electros given a good seeing-to, she very kindly invited me to tag along and get some minor damage to my own beloved Ozark 3515 BTEG repaired.

Such is Bex’s status amongst Ozark users that we got this work done personally by the company’s genial head honcho and chief designer David Carroll … and a fun afternoon was had by all. Megathanx to Bex, and to David. Needless to say, there is no bigger bang (or twang) for your resonator buckage available anywhere in this time zone (a word to the wise guy or gal)… and we couldn’t wait to get home and play our freshly rejuvenated ‘Zarks … and fall in love with them all over again.


Hothouse Spring 2014 is GO – we have lift-off!

541398_10152227691108012_967829795_n This is just a quick word to announce that the first session of the first Hothouse Project course of 2014, “Journalism as Craft and Art” kicked off with the proverbial BANG. Another intriguing bunch of students showed, and it looks like the next seven weeks will generate fun and enlightenment for all concerned … me included, of course.

And, equally needless to say, I can’t wait for the first batch of homework to arrive.

(Yep, there’s homework … I’m’a work ’em like DAWGS.)

Farrago Poetry Zoo Awards: Anna Chen and CSM score his’n’hers prizes …


the lovely one got hers for Best Performance By A London poet (‘Ackney is London, innit?) and the cat in the hat got his for Best Fiction Performance (as if all my performances weren’t fiction of one kind or annuver) and they look lavly in our living room. Making the presentation: Farrago mover’n’shaker John Paul O’Neill and, of course, it all took place at the RADA foyer cafe in Malet St, in the heart of London’s glittering West End.  This was a coupla weeks back, admittedly, but it’s so hard to keep up with such a fast-moving existence, I’m always a few weeks behind myself …

Meanwhile, please be advised that we still have a few places left for seekers after wisdom and enlightenment via my Hothouse course … kicking off this coming Thursday, Feb 20, in the heart of London’s leafy West Hampstead. Hurry hurry hurry, but please form an orderly queue and try not to trample the peeps in front of you …