Ecstatic misery

Last autumn, anyone who a) has an interest in pop music, and b) reads the weightier end of the press, would have come to the conclusion that the world was shortly to enter some kind of musical singularity, in which all of civilisation would be transformed by the 39-year-old Swedish pop singer Robyn. ‘After more

Sister act | 17 April 2019

Total immersion weekends can prove tricky. The established masters don’t need them, while lesser-known figures often turn out to be relatively obscure for sound reasons. Nonetheless, there are plenty of composers whose works are too rarely performed, not so much through neglect as because of the awkwardness of their demands — huge orchestras and choruses,

Arts feature

The wonder of Whitby

The 199 steps up to the ruins of Whitby Abbey are a pilgrimage; they always have been. And any good pilgrimage takes effort. Count Dracula (also acquainted with the north Yorkshire town) cheated — he climbed the steps in the guise of a black hound. These days, with its new £1.6 million museum and visitor


Sweet nothings

Nigel Slater is popular because he’s an exceptionally meek cook. Not for him the sprawling restaurant empire or the transatlantic TV career to excite envy and loathing. He writes about his trade in simple vivid prose and his bestselling memoir, Toast, has become a play. Young Nigel enters as a 1960s schoolboy, with shorts and


Goodbye to all that | 17 April 2019

If you’ve ever faced the social embarrassment of having to admit that you’ve never seen Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic, Monday), then imagine what it’s like when you’re a TV reviewer. The customary excuse of ‘There really isn’t time to keep up with everything on telly’ might work for most series. But now that GoT


Line dance

Sean Scully once told me about his early days as a plasterer’s mate. At the age of 17 he was helping a craftsman who would often accidentally drop a good deal of plaster on his youthful assistant’s head, especially after a midday break in the pub. Scully spent his own lunchtimes differently. He would roar


Men behaving very badly

Fans of Paolo Sorrentino’s Il Divo, The Great Beauty (which won an Oscar) and his HBO series, The Young Pope, will have been keenly anticipating Loro, his take on the life and times of Silvio Berlusconi, the media tycoon and former Italian prime minister who has been involved in one lurid scandal after another. But


Hard lines

As if in defiance of the BBC’s current obsession with programming designed to entice in that elusive young and modish audience, Radio 4 has set us an Easter challenge. Each afternoon over the weekend Jeremy Irons is reading a chunk from The Psalms for half an hour, without illustration (except a bit of music), explication