Why I fell out of love with Wagner

It’s four years since I gave up opera criticism. The pandemic had struck, I had hit a significant birthday, and notched up three decades at the coal face – a quarter of a century at the Telegraph, and an earlier stint at this address. There were other things I wanted to do and after reviewing something like 2,500 performances, I had said everything I wanted to say, several times over, and knew that it was time for other voices to be heard. Truth be told, I was becoming a little jaded. My blind spots – opera seria, the final eight mediocrities of Richard Strauss, Rossini’s irritating comedies – were turning

My thrilling rendezvous with the sausage lady

One day last week we did a wine run up to Manosque in the foothills of the Alps, leaving early in the morning. Catriona drove, big Vernon squeezed into the back seat and made a nest for himself among a fortnight’s recycling rubbish. Along the road up to Manosque the almond trees were in blossom, and in the gardens yellow forsythia and mimosa. But last year’s dead leaves still clung about the naked branches of the forest. Manosque it was because we’re massive fans of a local red called La Blaque. But on the way we passed a Louis Latour wine outlet. Catriona likes their Viré-Clessé white so we stopped