This is a photo of the talk I recently gave to the London Fortean Society: “The Spy Who Loved the Occult”. It’s about how I have used Aleister Crowley in my writings, particularly regarding his espionage activities, and also his role as an influencer. It was a repeat of my talk in January, which sold out.

Sadly, I learnt that my slide of David Bowie as Tesla in the film The Prestige reading The Book of the Law was probably a fake, as was a fierce portrait of Dion Fortune as warrior-priest I used. It seems you can’t be too careful with screenshots.

Consolation was provided by Greg Hands, who took the photo. (Thanks Greg). He told me he was so affected by Sybarite among the Shadows, the original story detailing Crowley turning Aldous Huxley on to mescaline in 1930s Berlin, that he called his son Huxley.

That sort of thing that makes you want to fight another day. Watch this space for news of the Italian edition of Aleister Crowley MI5, coming soon, as well as my forthcoming new novel, a supernatural romance.

Niu Blau, Ibiza: what’s this got to do with Aleister Crowley?

New piece in FT 415: ‘Taking the Future as Read’ on prophetic books, dreams and quantum physics.    


WHEN I FIRST HUNG OUT with Colin Casbolt on Ibiza forty or more years ago, I was struck by the contrast between his flamboyant hippie style and the knowledgeable way he spoke about Criminology, a subject he studied at university and later lectured on while living in Denmark. Here is a man who has looked at life from both sides now thought I.

            Our Stories is a boisterous account of the years spent with his Danish wife Anny in Morocco, Goa, and Ibiza, during which they succeeded in raising four daughters. It revels in a vanished time when it was possible to travel overland from England to Kabul and on to Tehran in a trusty van reeking of red Leb or Nepalese temple balls and rent a house in Kathmandu or San Carlos for a pittance.

            As I followed their adventures, I kept being reminded of another family with the same irrepressible spirit, resilience, and cavalier approach to authority: the Larkins, heroes of H.E. Bates’ novel, The Darling Buds of May, which became a hugely popular T.V. series and is shortly to appear again on British screens in a fresh incarnation.  Just as with Pop Larkin, nothing dampens Colin spirit, be it clambering up a ladder dangling from a tanker in stormy seas in the Canary Islands, detention at the King of Denmark’s pleasure, or facing up to the physical afflictions that have unfortunately dogged him in later life.

            ‘Perfick’ is Pop Larkins’ mantra, Colin’s is ‘fabulous’ or ‘wonderful’ even when relating experiences the rest of us might be hard-pressed to describe as such. He makes the best of everything, whether it’s being lost in the desert, busted or going broke; even the struggles the family underwent while battling their daughter Dani’s brain tumour, which he writes movingly about.

            As an intrepid criminologist Colin knows if you live outside the law you have to be honest. Every cop’s a criminal and all the sinners saints. Thank God he’s still a hippie (who as everybody knows were right).