Sha'anan Streett, the frontman of Hadag Nahash - the biggest hip-hop band in Israel - is hung over. And the waitress in the Jerusalem cafe clearly knows it. "Black coffee followed by a big green salad?" she suggests. He gives her a wry smile. "You know me too well," he replies.
Then he turns to me, sotto voce. "Last night," he murmurs, "too many substances." He motions to his "f*** the police" T-shirt. "This is my own design," he tells me.
Neil Gaiman has been described as a writer of extraordinary imagination. This imagination has been responsible for producing decades' worth of award-winning fantasy and science-fiction work, for readers of all ages. His novels, American Gods, Anansi Boys, Coraline and The Graveyard Book have all been New York Times best-sellers. He is well known for his graphic novel series The Sandman, for which he has a cult following, but he is also a prolific creator of poetry, short stories, journalism, song lyrics and drama.
When Marc Chagall began to use images of Jesus's crucifixion in the 1930s to symbolise Jewish suffering under the Nazis, many Jews found it disturbing. After all, Jews had long been blamed for the killing of Jesus and were repeatedly persecuted as a result. By using the Crucifixion in this way, Chagall represented innocent Jewish victims by the religious symbol of many of their oppressors.
It is the place where visual artists, musicians, writers and theatre directors go when they really want to focus. Cove Park is an international centre in Scotland that offers artists who work in a variety of media residencies to undertake research and develop new projects. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, it was the brainchild of Eileen and Peter Jacobs, a couple originally from Glasgow who have been based in London since 1983.
"Well done. You found it." Edmund de Waal seems genuinely surprised that I've managed to locate his studio, in south-east London - left at the charity shop, past the Co-op, the kebab house and launderette and right, down a dusty path, past cars being fixed with much drilling and banging.
It is a world away from the palatial homes in 19th-century Paris and turn-of-the century Vienna of the Jewish Ephrussi dynasty, the subject of his family memoir. Houses full of beautiful art collections, libraries full of precious books.
In 1975, after a run of three commercially successful albums on the back of his best-known LP, Transformer, Lou Reed committed commercial suicide by releasing Metal Machine Music, a double album which consisted of 65 minutes of atonal guitar feedback and white noise. Although it went on to sell a respectable 100,000 copies, the rumour that Reed actually recorded it as a way of getting out of his contract with RCA Records has persisted ever since. In the end, RCA were forced to apologise publicly for even releasing it.
Every so often, along comes a recording that stays alive in your mind long after you have heard it. One that arrived recently was a CD of Mozart's piano concertos, played and conducted by the young Israeli pianist David Greilsammer, with an orchestra mysteriously named Ensemble Suedama. The strength of purpose of Greilsammer's interpretations made the disc stand out as something out of the ordinary.
'I don't really want people to see me. I'm not into stardom," says David Suchet. What Suchet wants people to see is the character he is playing in the new production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, not the actor who is playing him.
It is hard not to fall in love with Gil Shaham's violin playing. Whether he is giving recitals together with his sister, the pianist Orli Shaham, recording for his own CD label or exploring the violin concerto masterpieces from the 1930s - which form his chief project this season - generosity and warmth emanate from his tone.