Paul has written several novels as P. C. DETTMANN and Paul Charles. His first two, From Beyond Belief and Kicking Tin, were speculative fiction. In recent years he has written espionage and crime novels such as Locksley and Ernest Zevon, as well as Ogham Forest, a story series for children. Paul has also written screenplays and journalism, and is available to hire as a ghostwriter.
- The New Normal Is The Old Normal“The new normal” is a phrase you will see everywhere today. It must be a contender for the 2020 phrase of the year, alongside “social distancing” of course. There is a lot of debate about what normality will look like over the next twelve months, several years or longer, and how it will be different to the old normal, whatever that was. I suggest this is the wrong argument, and a waste of time.
- Paddy & BillyThe story of how Paddy and Billy kidnapped a German General during WW2 on Crete has been told many times. But each account lacks the perspective of one or more of the protagonists. For decades, Captain Billy Moss’s account was the definitive one. His book, Ill Met By Moonlight, became a major motion picture. Even though the inaccuracies drove Patrick Leigh Fermor, Paddy, to distraction, the movie has become the reality.
- PodcastingI have a books podcast and a spies podcast and even a data analytics podcast which is my day job. And I put them all up for you to hear here: http://www.podcaster.me.uk so you have no excuse. All of them are available on all the main podcast directories.
- ChinaNobody ever liked China. Even inside China. But why? They make our gadgets under conditions which would be criminal in the West. Thanks China. They make clothes that fall apart. They make toys with illegal, toxic chemicals. We buy the stuff faster than they can make it. We love China. Until we don’t.
- Review: Tom Petty / Stevie Nicks @ BST Hyde Park 2017The Heartbreakers took a well-earned break from their 40th Anniversary tour of the US to… play another show in Europe. Their only non-US show was last night in Hyde Park. He invited an amazing group of guests that included Stevie Nicks and The Lumineers, complete with double bass.
- Beside The SeasideWhat does it mean to live nowhere near the sea, in the country most famous for its seaside? Bloody misery.
- Gaslighter Alights! Welcome Back ChicksThe long-awaited Gaslighter has finally landed, after a short pause brought on by that little global incident. How fitting for a band that once caused such a global incident that they became a target for internet shaming in the days before social media really took off, in the days when it was still social.
- George Orwell’s NonfictionThe most recent and complete collection of Orwell’s works spans twenty volumes. Edited by Peter Davison (no, not that one) the first nine volumes are the books and the other eleven are the letters and journalism, broadly speaking. This week’s episode of the podcast covers volumes eighteen and nineteen, plus my thoughts about Orwell’s fiction.
- Ninety-Two in the Shade by Thomas McGuane
For American listeners, perhaps Thomas McGuane requires no introduction. A successful novelist and screenwriter, he is also a regular contributor to the New Yorker. However, part of my motivation in featuring his work here is that he is virtually unknown in Britain. This episode looks at Tom’s successful move, Missouri Breaks, which starred Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando, plus we cover the novel Panama in addition to 92.
- Covidity of ErrorsI can barely bring myself to list all the COVID-19 disasters in Britain, land of the free, home of the Brave, and God’s own country. It’s not pretty. But someone must.
- Station Eleven: Museum of CivilizationAs part of the review for Station Eleven in 2014, I agreed to suggest a relic to put in the Museum of Civilisation. This is a concept introduced in the book. It needs no introduction, it really sort of does what it says on the tin.
- Jackson Browne vs. Warren ZevonWhile Jackson was brewing his own coffee in a whistling tin kettle and singing softly about rocking on the water, sister, what was Warren doing? He was singing about deceased hitmen without heads, international envoys, war in Africa, and having his dad send him lawyers, guns and money in somewhere like Damascus.
A writer who tries to stay out of politics is a writer who avoids life. Every story is political. Life is political. Avoiding the obvious risks the question: why are you avoiding stating the obvious? In trying to have no agenda, the novice writer can appear to have a worse agenda: a hidden one. Such is the writer’s life.
- Book: Orwell’s Nose
George Orwell did not have a nose because he did not exist. Eric Arthur Blair had a nose, and he sometimes used it to smell things. End of review.
- Why Digital Downloads Are Evil
You digging that download bro? You dig it man? Girl? Baby? Well you’ve got a shock cummin’ at ya. You paid for it, right? Oh you nicked it? Well, if you had paid for it, you actually wouldn’t own it. I know!
- Lockdown Diaries
A very lightly edited omnibus of my lockdown diaries, which first appeared on LinkedIn, to the initial horror of colleagues. Within a few days though, I was getting great feedback and encouragement and continued right through to the end of lockdown in early June 2020.
- Jerry Maguire
If you have one client, and I do mean only one, you are an agent. If you have zero clients, you are not an agent. But, and here’s the kicker, an agent with one thousand clients is still only an agent. That is important.
- Philip Larkin?
Imagine, if you can, a northern Slough and take a shit on it. That’s Hull. But it’s not my Hull, and it’s not Larkin’s.
Books and Podcasts
Kicking Tin is based on the crash of TWA800, which itself shared similarities with other high profile aviation disasters such as Lockerbie Pan Am 103, Iran Air 655, Siberia 1812 and most recently, Malaysian Airlines MH17 over Ukraine. It is the story of a Manchester boy who becomes a lead investigator with the NTSB in Washington. Mike Gilham is a Tin Kicker, an air crash investigator. This is his story.
Each week I look in detail at a book found in one of the various libraries I visit. Most of the books will be quite old, some will be rare, but others will be new. All of them will be unusual or notable in some way. It’s your way to visit the library without visiting the library.
My spies podcast covers real Cold War espionage plus my favourite spy writers such as John le Carré. Originally conceived as a companion for my London walking tours with Airbnb, the podcast showcases my most interesting items of research. SOE, WW2, Cold War. Everything has a London perspective but with a global reach.