Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Red mutant eyes gaze down on Hunger City...

When I was 13 I had my very own cassette player, and I bought my music on cassette. It felt, to use a wonderfully old-fashioned word, modern. And back then one of my favourite albums was Bowie's DIAMOND DOGS.

I bought it again on CD a few years ago, when it was re-released, and while it sounded the same, there was something wrong, and I couldn't figure out what it was.

I played it again last night, as part of my personal background soundtrack to working on Charles Burns' BLACK HOLE, and suddenly I knew. The tracks were in the wrong order -- that is, they were in the right order for the LP, but the cassette release had reordered them to use equal amounts of tape on each side, and that was what I'd played over and over as a boy. Diamond Dogs had to be followed by Rock and Roll With Me, for example, not with Sweet Thing. After all these years, I still remembered the cassette song-sequence, and expected it.

A few minutes of iPod fiddling, and I found myself listening to Diamond Dogs just as I did when I was 13. The creaking sound in the background was the hinges of the world turning back thirty years, comfortably and well.


Hello, As I am sure you know, the new "Dr.Who" episodes have just started to air in the US on the sci fi channel. (i'm 20 so I missed the days when Dr. Who was on PBS here) It's a great show and i've been educating myself in it's history. I would love to read your introduction to Eye of the Tyger (and the whole novella) but I can't find it in print in the US. Do you have any suggestions where I can get it? Also will Wolves in the Walls still be in Scotland in August. I'm attending the Fringe Festival with my college's theatre department.Thanks for your time,Ellie Plymouth, MN

You know, all the introductions I've done since 2002 are uncollected, and I really ought to think about doing something with them. I'll find out if anyone would mind if I put that one and a few others up on line here at

Dear Neil,

Just in case you are tempted into doing a little light shopping in Hammersmith Farmer's Market on Thursday (you'll have to walk through it on your way into the Lyric, but it will have closed by the time you leave, I imagine), here are my recommendations:

* The sad-looking unroofed veg stall directly facing on to the fountains often has gorgeous (and cheap) Egremont Russet apples.
* The "rainforest cuisine" stall does a nice big takeout Carribean salad box for about a fiver - looks like multicoloured hay but tastes great, except for the falafel.
* the "Dark Sugars" chocolate stall is ruinously expensive, but really goooood.
* avoid at all cost the buffalo sausages - impeccably sourced, no doubt, but they are pure CMOT Dibbler, as full of gristle and wobbly bits.

I'll miss your signing - can't get a ticket, dammit, which is frustrating as I live about 7 minutes' walk away - but I do hope you have a lovely time on my home patch.


How extremely helpful.

It's worth checking again -- I heard from Nick Sweeting that the Lyric has just opened up the previously not-for-sale upper circle so there may be more seats available. (And if you live or work in Hammersmith or Fulham you can get in free to the 4.00 pm performance on Saturday -- see their website for details --

Hi Neil
I was in Pulp Fiction in Brisbane last week with my 3 year old daughter. I had to smile when she picked up a copy of The wolves in the walls and stated "I want this", so as every proud parent does, we bought it.
Now having read the book six times out loud I have to ask. Did you make up the word 'squossucks' simply to trick up tired Mummys?
Because each night as I sleepily read the favourite book I get stuck every time.I love the book, as does my wide eyed little girl. In testimony to this the glue has already given way and the cover fallen off.
Thanks Amanda

I just thought it was a fun word to say. It sounds faintly rude, for a start...

Hi Neil,

Thought you (and readers) might want to know that the lovely Wired now has article called 'The Gamines Love Gaiman' ( which makes for intriguing reading.


Martyn Drake
Editor, The Friends of English Magic

thanks, Martyn.

Right. Now in airport, heading to plane...