It's not every day you meet a notorious femme fatale. The Israeli mezzo-soprano Rinat Shaham is in London for her debut at English National Opera, appearing in a new production of Verdi's The Force of Destiny, but the world knows her best as Bizet's Carmen. As it happens, it was in the UK that she first took on the untameable gypsy - at Glyndebourne in 2004.
I remember the first time I had a piece of my music played on commercial radio. It was my theme from the film, Wilde, and I was hugely excited hearing the presenter introduce the music, and listening to it being played on the radio.
The Proms begin tonight but few who attend or listen on the radio will be aware that in 1902, barely seven years old, they were saved from bankruptcy by music lover Sir Edgar Speyer, a naturalised German immigrant of Jewish parentage. Speyer took over the running of the Proms.
This year, concert halls and broadcasters are justifiably celebrating composers Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen who were both born 150 years ago, Sibelius in Finland, Nielsen in Denmark. But what about the smaller fish?
Bethnal Green seems a special location in which to interview an intriguing young Israeli conductor, for this area was once a crucial centre of Jewish life in London. Little remains to point out, though, while Gad Kadosh and I wander in search of lunch out of the studio in which Longborough Festival Opera holds its rehearsals.
In Santa Monica, California, during the late 1930s and early '40s, émigrés who had gathered there used to tell each other a story about two dachshunds meeting on the Palisade, and how one sighs and says to the other: "It's true, here I am a dachshund, but in the old country I was a St Bernard."
Do you have fond memories of the Kenwood open-air concerts? That long-term institution - which appears now to have met its demise - certainly gave me and thousands of others countless hours of pleasure. Listening to classical music in the summer sunshine with a picnic by the lake was hard to match.
If you yearn for that now-lost experience, fear not.