n AN invitation arrives from Mohamed Al Fayed to join him next Tuesday at Harrods. You have to be careful with invitations from Mr Fayed. Look what happened to Jonathan Aitken. So let me declare at once that, along with the invitation, he also sent an attractive double CD, entitled in gold lettering, The Life of the Last Prophet (retail price, pounds 13.99). The 66-minute CD turns out to be a full-text reading of a biography of the prophet Mohammed. A note on the back asks me to treat it with respect, which naturally I am going to do. (Actually, it asks me to treat it with "repect", which may prove harder.) The Life of the Last Prophet is by Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, who will be making "an extremely rare personal appearance" at Harrods on Tuesday. This new CD represents his first spell in the recording studio for 17 years. It's also his first new release since things started to be released on CD. (That's something of a record.) I don't think it's going to sell as well as the eight consecutive gold albums and 10 hit singles (in the UK) that Cat turned out in the Seventies. That was before he quit the music business, describing it as a world of "sin and greed". It's some spiritual journey that takes a man away from the materialistic world of the music business and brings him back for a rare personal appearance at Harrods.
n THREE years ago I interviewed Jane Horrocks for the Sunday Review. The one thing she told me she didn't want to do was Shakespeare. "I'm not really interested in classical stuff," she said. "I don't like the idea of playing a part somebody else has played. I don't like to be compared." Perhaps appearing in last year's revival of Cabaret has changed her mind. Later this month she appears at Greenwich, playing Lady Macbeth.
n MY colleague, Nicholas Barber, has just returned from a week's holiday in Prague, where he says the atmosphere is "pretty bohemian", adding that, of course, "it is in Bohemia". The one disappointment was the level of street entertainment. A man with a large moustache was swallowing exotic, jagged swords. Everyone ignored him. A group of young Americans, with grungy hair and acoustic guitars, gave rambling introductions to songs by Nirvana and Pink Floyd. They couldn't sing and they couldn't play. A large appreciative crowd applauded and gave money. Any buskers who are finding it tough round here should head out to the Old Town Square, Prague.