First, it was Michael Hastings of ‘Tom and Viv.

Now Shelagh Delaney has died, aged 71. She made her mark at 18 with A Taste of Honey and never lost it.

Lovely lady. I once tried to get her to write a memorial tribute to a famous actor. She demurred, saying ‘I don’t want to take from his glory.’


In a signal demonstration of hope over experience, Leonard Slatkin has simultaneously signed a new contract in Detroit and a new wife, Cindy McTee, his fourth.



He may be approaching a record for the profession. Felix Weingartner married five times. Can anyone top that?

First, we all go nude for Ai Weiwei, who is being persecuted for his art.

Now we’re being asked to get kit off for an Egyptian who likes to take the air on Facebook. Read here and here. Needless to say, the Daily Mail website has since milked the story for sleaze and CNN will direct you to Ms Mahdi’s raw material, titled A Rebel’s Diary (warning: explicit content).

I’m not sure what point it is she’s trying to make at the very moment when people are being killed in Cairo for demanding political reform. It does seem a bit peripheral and self-indulgent, but not to the sisterhood across the Sinai border.

You see what I meant in the Ai Weiwei protest about the disinhibiting impact of social media? We don’t begin to understand the mass psychology. Back to Canetti.

Israeli women have stripped off in support of an Egyptian blogger who posed naked

A piece of thematic programming, announced this morning by Garsington Festival Opera.

The opera will run  2 June to 3 July 2012. They’d better be careful, though. Lawyers for London 2012 are coming down like a ton of ordure on anyone who freeloads on their brand. My favourite Olympianist has been getting letters with menaces.

GARS main logo for Word v2a (3)

Reuters reports a wave of nudity protests on Chinese-based websites after the embattled artist Ai Weiwei was questioned by police over disseminating nude photographs of himself, seated with four women (see Guardian report this weekend).

The above image comes from the Shanghaist daily,

and there are several more on site here.

The response is remarkable inasmuch as it violates a deep-seated Chinese prudishness about the naked body. But it serves as further evidence of the disinhibiting power of social websites and online communications in a time of social ferment – as witnessed in Egypt’s Tahrir Square uprising and other upheavals. Canetti had something to say about this in Crowds and Power.

Or perhaps it all goes back to this.


I hear that the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra is first in line to perform the newly-discovered fragments of Sibelius’s missing eighth symphony in front of a live audience.

The score sheets have so far been played only in a video run-through at a Helsinki Philharmonic rehearsal session. But the Hel Phil’s chief conductor John Storgards is planning a Sibelius cycle in Manchester – and want it to be more complete than any before. The cycle will also be released on record.

Montreal has a magnificent new concert hall, the Maison Symphonique. This weekend it was playing string quartets.

While a performance of Mahler’s third symphony had to find another home – in Pollack Hall, where space is so tight that the choirs displaced the audience in several rows.

Why would they schedule things like that? Arthur Kapitainis sheds some light.

(A scene from John Neumeier’s Mahler 3 ballet. Photo © 2004 Holger Badekow)