The 2013 Proms season begins in just a fortnight. Every year since I was 14 and thoroughly captivated by counterpoint, I’ve eagerly awaited publication of the BBC’s lavish Proms brochure. Some years, of course, it’s more lavish than others. I used to open it up and quickly highlight all the Beethoven gigs, which usually determined the magnitude of my spiritual rapture and sublime ecstasy. Now I’m a bit more eclectic in my tastes, and embrace just about anything except Bartók.
There are some undoubted highlights this season, which marks the 200th anniversary of the births of Wagner and Verdi (1813 was a vintage year). 2013 is also the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten and the 50th anniversary of the creation of Dr Who (sorry to mention that in the same paragraph, but this column is very broadly about ‘culture’ and there’s bound to be a few ConHomies who prefer Time Lords and Daleks to latent Risorgimento and synthesised Gesamtkunstwerk). Continue reading →
The baby and maternal deaths at the Morecambe Bay NHS Trust in Cumbria must be a cause of unbearable grief to the families affected. Bereavement is often silently endured, but the pain of loss is so intense that it never really passes. Each grieving journey is unique, yet common to all is an overwhelming feeling of being suspended helplessly somewhere between exile and death.
To learn now of allegations that the hospital’s systematic incompetence and alleged medical malpractice may have been subjected to a cover-up by NHS regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), can only compound the sense of natural violation. It is an agonising thing to lose your baby; it is intolerable, unjust and offensive to have been duped and deceived about the circumstances of that loss. Continue reading →
Barbra Streisand Live at the O2 ArenaShe is the stuff of legend – still bewitching and beguiling at the vintage age of 71 (not that she looks or sounds it). Barbra Streisand has won a couple of Oscars, a Tony, an Emmy, a Golden Globe and been awarded France’s Legion d’Honneur. She has Grammies galore, with 51 gold, 30 platinum and 13 multi-platinum albums to her illustrious name. She even has an ‘effect’ named after her, which must be the showbiz equivalent of a political ‘-ism’. So it was no surprise that she got a standing ovation the moment she ascended the stage on a lift (not out of geriatric necessity). Continue reading →