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.
"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.
In 2002, Alex Bellos published Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life to much acclaim.
Its appeal stemmed partly from its having been written by someone who had lived in Brazil and was a student of that nation's obsession with football, and partly because the subject is a sexy one. Now, Bellos is sharing with readers another of his passions: mathematics.
Lisa Kudrow is not the kind of actress who provokes tears - unless it is from laughter. As the kooky and capricious folk singer Phoebe Bouffay in Friends, she and her five Central Perk pals generated global laughter for 10 years in the most popular sitcom of all time. The joy of the show remains, so it comes as a shock to see one of its stars sobbing on camera for the family she lost at the hands of the Nazis.
It is the day after the Olivier Awards ceremony and it appears that Samantha Spiro, winner of best actress in a musical category, has come down from cloud nine. "You've caught me just before doing my hoovering," says the 41-year-old mother of two.
Twenty-four hours previously she was holding back the tears as she accepted her honour for playing the lead in last year's Regent's Park Open Air Theatre revival of Jerry Herman's Hello Dolly. It was the second Olivier - one of the most prestigious theatre awards on offer - of her career, and one of three won by the show.