Adam Mars-Jones is a critic and novelist who, clearly possessing preternaturally good genes, was selected as one of Granta’s 20 ‘Best of British Young Novelists’ in both 1983 and 1993.

Mars-Jones’s novels, several of which deal with the lives of gay men (he took to homosexual life, he says, less like a ‘duck to water than a stone to treacle’) and-or family life, have been described as a ‘combination of critical intelligence, aphoristic humour and attention to bodily details’.

He is both a film and literary critic, with a gift for telling precision, but confesses that as a novelist ‘if I can’t think of a way to write something, I just don’t’. Despite his stern reputation, he claims to be ‘nurturing and mother-hennish’ when teaching his creative-writing students.