With the fanfare and build up to the Oscars, it seems timely to take a trip back to Hollywood's Golden Age. The release of the magnificent "I Used to be in Pictures", by twins Austin and Howard Mutti-Mewse, intoxicatingly takes us back to this sumptuous, glorious era.
Le Corsaire (the pirate) is a bright, upbeat ballet, unlike the more popular but tragic ballets such as Swan Lake, Giselle and Romeo and Juliet. And this version of this rarely performed piece of work is packed full of talent and energy.
I don't think you could ever witness a better version of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts than this Richard Eyre-helmed production at the Trafalgar Studios. Genuinely moving but never melodramatic or overwrought, this story of a family trying to escape the ghosts of their past is an exceptional piece of theatre that will resonate long after the curtain falls.
Why does every conversation about Lena or her work have to be derailed by gleeful squabbling about her nakedness, even now, three seasons later? Can't we just talk about the show without this intense, exhausting scrutiny of Lena's body?
So here I am, on the great man's birthday, on an incredibly mild January night at the Jermyn Street Theatre, sitting next to a young actress, recently graduated from drama school (and I didn't even have to slip the box office lady any notes), and I in my late thirties, feeling all Trigorin with my projected gravestone reading: "not as good as Michael Billington."
I am not embarrassed to admit that I often found myself crying when they were crying. Some of the survivors told me a lot and in detail; detail that was difficult to handle. Other survivors did not want to talk so much and if they did they could not talk about their time during the war. They preferred to talk about their family, their children and grandchildren.
Graphic artist Patrick Thomas popped by the gallery last week to chat about why creating art makes his heart beat at 100BPM, his love of Berlin, and why his upcoming show at Hang-Up is an absolute must see.
Timothy Fadek calls himself a "news junkie" but he's really a photojournalist, one of the best. On this topic, he's modest. He chuckles knowingly as I try to prize his global ranking from him. "I'm not telling you", he laughs. "I'm not in the top 1%, but I am in the top fifty".
Azerbaijan is not alone. In fact it's little wonder that a country like Qatar is also putting more and more focus in this area. For a place, which has an abundance of sand, sun and oil, but not much else, it makes sense to be making such an effort to build up its cultural sector
Enter stage left Gina, a playwright whose brainchild Rapture, Blister, Burn previewed this week at the Hampstead Theatre, and, under the umbrella of the 'can women have it all' debate, simultaneously discussed housewifery, porn, casual sex, families, feminism, marriage, careers, submission, and everything in between.
I have always stuck to the notion of enjoying books providing the protagonist is a person that I can connect with and their sex, it appears until two weeks ago, had been one such contributing factor.
Liam Williams is the most soulful, daring, intellectually unabashed young comedian in the country. His Foster's-nominated debut hour, which plays at the Soho Theatre this week, is comedy-as-poetry, his very own 'Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock', a mock-heroic bildungsroman of a set splashed with haggard beauty, Yorkshire melancholy and wanking-at-ten-past-three candour...
I drove down to Dorset to visit the artist Simon Gudgeon. He has created an amazing aquatic sculpture park. Some years ago he bought a struggling fish farm and has redeveloped it into a wonderful and surprising walk of figurative and abstract sculpture.
Olive's story is probably the earliest tragic diary of 1914, but it clearly won't be the last, or the most dramatic. However, there is a shocking poignancy when you read her thoughts and longing for home, knowing that these will be her last days...
Massenet's most famous opera, a moralistic story of love versus materialism, should be full of wit, passion and drama but this production at the Royal Opera House, whilst enjoyable, could do with more innovation and creativity.
So my year as 'Musician In Residence' in Derry-Londonderry, the UK City of Culture has come to an end. I have mixed feelings.