The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of The Mousetrap becoming a theatrical institution, Agatha Christie's play continues to break records on its first national tour.
More of an experience than a typical theatre visit, the 1952 play has as much in common with farce as it does murder mystery.
Its staginess, which shields the "partners in crime" from any real sense of horror or fright, makes it undeniably easy to parody.
Yet one of the keys to this production's success is director Ian Watt-Smith's instruction that the cast must play their roles straight.
As a result each develops a brief back-story and sense of personality.
To that end Giles and Mollie Ralston (Bruno Langley and Jemma Walker) are novice guest house owners while Mrs Boyle (Jan Waters) is an archetypal grumpy old woman and Christopher Wren (Steven France) is a ball of hyperactive eccentricities and potentially sinister nursery-rhyme singing.
The characterisation may be one-dimensional but the script is cleverly plotted, with plenty of red herrings thrown in to put the audience off the trail of the murderer.
This is established from the onset, when a steady stream of guests trudges through the snow to arrive at Monkwell Manor.
One wears a felt hat and dark overcoat, the description of the suspect given out on the wireless.
There's also a surprising amount of humour lampooning the murder mystery genre, despite the plot touching upon a case of serious child abuse.
It's questionable whether The Mousetrap deserves to be the longest-running in British theatrical history.
But it's perhaps reached a point where legacy is more important than artistic quality.
Tours until June 28. Details: www.the-mousetrap.co.uk.