Legend of the Fall: Mark E. Smith and me

He was one of the most unlikely pop stars this country has ever produced: extraordinarily badly dressed and famously contrarian, with a voice that sounded more like an angry man shouting than anything recognisable as singing. But Mark E. Smith, front man of the Fall, became one of the most recognisable and eventually revered figures on the music scene. And five years on from his death at 60, his stock is higher than ever – his influence heard in the sound of newer bands such as Sleaford Mods and Idles, his name regularly evoked on the likes of BBC Radio 6 Music, and a giant tribute mural an unlikely tourist

The mystery and romance of the cassette tape

May the gods of Hiss and Compression bless Lou Ottens. As head of new product development at Phillips, the Dutch engineer invented the compact cassette in 1963 and changed music for ever. Ottens died last week at 94. A good age, and a good number. You could get a full album on each side. For many of us born in the 1970s, who came of age musically in the 1980s and 1990s, the blank cassette has an unkillable romance. We measured our lives in spools of magnetic tape: C60, C90, the occasional C46. Inside those hard plastic shells we surfed the thin end of the aural wedge, composing scrappy love

You’ll wish you were gay: Channel 4’s It’s a Sin reviewed

To promote his new drama series about Aids in the early 1980s, Russell T. Davies insisted in an interview that gay characters should be played only by actors who are actually gay. This was maddening for a number of reasons, starting with blatant hypocrisy. One of the things that made Davies’s Queer As Folk so watchable was Aidan Gillen’s mesmerising performance as the smirking, predatory, cocksure queen of the Mancunian gay scene Stuart Alan Jones. It was the making of Gillen, who went on to star as Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish in Game of Thrones. But Gillen, who has a girlfriend and two children, almost certainly fails Davies’s gay authenticity test.