The X(&HT)Mas Bonus Speakeasies: The Promise

Happy Holidays!Xmas Bonus- The Promise

As our Xmas gift to you, dearest Listenership, here is the first of two bonus Speakeasies. Continue reading The X(&HT)Mas Bonus Speakeasies: The Promise

Stacked: X&HT Visited The Astley Book Farm

Sometimes, you just have to make the most of a collapsed plan. We were all set to visit the Festival of History at Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire this weekend, until the weather did a dirty on us, and flooded the site the evening before it was due to open.

We found a silver lining to that rain-sodden cloud, tucked away in the lanes of rural Warwickshire. A bookshop that swallowed us whole and ejected us hours later, giddy and shine-eyed. 

Continue reading Stacked: X&HT Visited The Astley Book Farm


A new year and a new logo. I can’t help myself, I’m afraid. Farting around with the look and feel of X&HT is one of my pleasures. The place is like a shed, and every so often I get the need to shift things around and clear out the cupboards. Inevitably, I’ll find a dead mouse somewhere in a dark corner, but that is the nature of spring cleaning.

I thought it might be nice to wander through the different logos I’ve designed for X&HT over the years, and something about why I made the choices that ended up on the site.

Continue reading Logopolis

A Warming Bean Stew For The New Year

The Christmas decorations never last for long after New Year’s Day at X&HTowers. We never see the point in hanging about. Saturnalia is finished for another season, and there are things to be done. Yesterday was spent getting the house straight, and ourselves ready for the return to work.

A busy day, then, and a good meal was needed once the tinsel and tree were back in the loft. The eating would be simple and sustaining. There’s no point in trying to diet in the New Year. There are still too many treats hanging around. We have an untouched panetonne and a cupboard full of sweeties ready and waiting to blow any foolhardy resolutions right out of the water. But the rich dinners can be scaled back to something less epic, a little more nurturing.

Continue reading A Warming Bean Stew For The New Year

Print Works: Habibi, Ashes and dire digital downloads

Now, I loves me the ebooks. The Kindle I snagged for last year’s birthday is going strong, and stuffed full of goodness. It’s revolutionised the way I acquire and consume digital long-form fiction–oh, ok, how I buy and read books.

And yet, when it comes to comics and graphic novels, I’m resolutely and unrepentantly old-school. If it ain’t on print, I don’t want it. A lot of that, I guess, is down to the kind of comics I like to read. I’m no fan of masks and capes, and Marvel and DC for the most part leave me cold. I can’t remember the last time I bought a comic – either the flimsy glossy American pamphlet or good old sheddy English newsprint. It’s trade paperbacks and graphic novels for me, at. I’d much rather read a story all at once rather than wait for it to eke out on monthly 22-page instalments.

Continue reading Print Works: Habibi, Ashes and dire digital downloads

Not My Beautiful House

Sometimes you just can’t help yourself. You know it’s wrong. You know it’s bad for you. But somehow the wrongness becomes part of the attraction. The habit grows claws, and digs in hard. And gods help me, I think it’s happening now.

American Horror Story is one of those shows that I’m just not going to be able to stay away from.

Continue reading Not My Beautiful House


I love being an uncle. I can highly recommend it. It’s all the fun of parenting with little of the tedious admin.

An example. TLC and I spent a chunk of the weekend at Pier 32, the codename I have decided to give to her brother’s gaff (a little more on Pier 32 later). We are guideparents to the son of the family, a bright bit of ball lightning called AJ. Guideparents? AJ’s mum and dad don’t stand for any of that religious nonsense, and he was named with all due ceremony in their local pub by a humanist minister. Does this mean I take my guidepaternal responsibilities any less seriously than if AJ had been christened?

Of course not. A vow is a vow no matter what kind of house you take it in. Our visits together may be infrequent, but we make sure AJ gets quality time when we’re around. As I am an unreconstructed big kid, this means lots of time with Lego, and time on the computer helping him out with homework projects. As AJ’s mum and dad have recently invested in a 27 inch iMac, this is not the grind it could be. Yesterday I helped him make a 12-page newspaper. I only grabbed the mouse off him once or thrice.

I’m not great with kids – they have a tendency to un-nerve me with awkward questions and unwarranted meltdowns. However, all the kids that I am uncle and god/guidefather to are exceptions to the rule, and I delight in spending time with all of them. Being able to sneak away and leave them to their parents after getting them sugared up and over-excited is, of course, just the cherry on the cake.