Andy McSmith's Diary: Magnitsky's law will be the legacy he deserved

Our man in Westminster

The Feral Beast: Barbican brouhaha, lordly loves, artistic licence and Alan Bennett's secret skills

Awkward scenes at the Barbican on Thursday, when Peter Tatchell got on stage to denounce Valery Gergiev as a friend of Vladimir Putin. Moments before the start of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, the gay rights activist gave a speech condemning the Russian conductor, who had yet to appear, for siding with Putin against Pussy Riot, and for "defending the new homophobic law that persecutes gay Russians". The imperious 60-year-old conductor is finding it increasingly difficult to perform without being ambushed. Only last month, activists surprised him at the Carnegie Hall in New York, and again at the opening of Eugene Onegin at the Met. There's even an article in this week's New Yorker titled "The problem with Valery Gergiev". Gergiev has been a fan of Putin since he was the deputy mayor of St Petersburg, where Gergiev presides over the Mariinsky Theatre. Tatchell's protest was particularly ingenious: as he was wearing a tuxedo; the audience assumed he was a Barbican official, and it was some time before anyone bundled him off stage. I'm told two gentlemen from the percussion and brass sections eventually took it upon themselves to move him on. Gergiev conducted as if nothing had happened, and security swarmed during the interval, somewhat after the event.

The Feral Beast: Batons at, dawn, beans brouhaha, language lessons and the nervous earl

Senior women from the world of classical music held an extraordinary meeting yesterday to discuss how to tackle Vasily Petrenko. The 37-year-old Russian conductor caused outrage last month by saying men made better conductors, because orchestras "react better when they have a man in front of them". Now, some musicians are reluctant to work with him, and others feel more needs to be done to counteract the gender imbalance among conductors.

Andy McSmith's Diary: Princely profile fails to fill perception gap

Our man in Westminster

The Feral Beast: How to dress like a TV presenter, talk like Andrew Mitchell and play like a football manager

Jeremy Paxman has found expression through his beard. But what's with Gavin Esler and those jumpers? He hosted Newsnight on Friday wearing two pieces of avant-garde knitwear, in an apparent response to the Prime Minister's advice that we should all wear a woolly indoors. The first sported polar bears, the second was red, with a reindeer motif. All very jolly, but Esler insists they are not from his own wardrobe. "Newsnight fashion editor and zeitgeist-watching staff chose the jumper", he reassures me. "I assume they picked acrylic as a style statement but it's not really my area of expertise".

Good publicity was sucked
out of the event by the antics of Godfrey Bloom

The Feral Beast: Notes from the small minded, Pippa's back, and Thatcher and Powell's pow-wow

Bill Bryson may seem like a travelling teddy bear, all cosy jokes and observations. But he is a papa grizzly when it comes to protecting his utterings. Lawyers acting for the author of Notes from a Small Island have fired off a furious email to a journalist who has reprinted an interview with him from 19 years ago. Mike Gerrard wrote the piece for the literary mag Passport in 1994. Now he has turned it into an ebook, selling at £2.05 a pop. But Bryson's publishers, Transworld, have demanded that he withdraw the book from sale, saying that their client owns the copyright to the words he spoke that day. If that were the case, no journalist could ever reprint any article. "I'm baffled as to why the author is taking this bullying attitude," says Gerrard. "The interview promotes him and his work, and has links to his books. It's even more surprising because he's an American from the land of free speech." Gerrard has refused to take the ebook down, and Transworld did not respond to a request for comment.

Conservative Peer Lord Hanningfield

Andy McSmith's Diary: Lord Leveson admits he made one big slip-up

Our man in Westminster

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