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.

Marin Alsop, who became the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms this year, stayed on in London on Friday night especially to attend the meeting at the Royal Festival Hall. This was hosted by Jude Kelly, the Southbank's artistic director, and those present included the Radio 3 presenter Sarah Mohr Pietsch, cellist Natalie Klein and novelist Candace Allen.

Though Chatham House rules applied, a resolution was made to take a more robust stance against sexism in music, and the idea of quotas for female conductors at the Southbank was mooted. Petrenko, who said that "a cute girl on a podium means that musicians think about other things", stands by his comments.

Don! Stop digging

It's another Monty Don blunder! In August, I reported how gardeners were left bellowing at their tellies as he advised viewers of Gardeners' World to cut back their strawberry plants. As any fule kno, you shouldn't cut them back until October.

Now, he's been dishing out dud advice on broad beans. Sowing seeds for a spring crop, the trick is to plant the seeds upright, as if they're placed horizontally they are at risk of rotting. But Monty could be seen on Friday placing them lengthways. Viewers are now so used to Monty's blunders that they have created a hashtag on Twitter called "shouty half hour". One segment on growing giant vegetables was likened to "innuendo bingo". As a viewer pleads: "For the love of God, make us a decent bloody gardening show. Not one for morons."

Highgrove chutzpah

The Middletons are usually accused of cashing in on their connections by selling royal-themed tat. But this time it's Prince Charles. An email pings in from Highgrove, his Gloucestershire home, suggesting we might like to invest £195 in a "baby hamper" to commemorate the royal christening. At that price, it must contain plenty of chutney. In fact, all you get is a teddy bear and a few organic toiletries in chamomile and mandarin. A single soft toy from Highgrove will set you back £70. Makes the £3.99 teddies from the Middletons' Party Pieces – down from £4.99 – positively cheap.

Better safe than sorry

When Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour sold his London home to Earl Spencer for £3.6m, he donated the whole lot to a charity for the homeless. But the house's new incumbent is somewhat less community-minded.

Applications submitted to Westminster Council reveal that the Earl is getting jittery about security, and wants to cover it with CCTV cameras. He has asked to instal five, including one for the garage. The Georgian mansion was a sticking point during Spencer's divorce battle with wife number two, Caroline Freud. She lived in it with their children, but he ended up keeping it. Now the Earl is busy bringing up child number seven by wife number three, Karen Gordon. They divide their time between California and Althorp, and the London house is hardly used. Still, with all those exes about, you can't be too careful.

Brought to brock

Well known for his love of badgers, Queen guitarist Brian May has yet another string to his bow. On Wednesday, he launches his latest project, a compilation of "diableries", Victorian stereographs of skeletons doing bizarre things. The book has taken six years to finish, with the help of two experts. "It's been a labour of love," he tells me. "I would be up until 5am working on it. You have dreams and this was one of them. Stereo-graphs have thrilled me for most of my life."

In 2009, he asked the nation for help to identify the Oxfordshire village captured in a series of 1850 stereo photographs, which became the subject of his last book, A Village Lost and Found. Meanwhile, he's not giving up his fight to save the badgers. "I wake up every morning in a battle zone," he says. "But that happens when you stick your head above the parapet."

Unparliamentary language

John Bercow gave David Cameron a dressing down on Wednesday for calling Ed Miliband a "conman" during Prime Minister's Questions, saying his repeated use of the word during a debate on energy prices was "frankly unparliamentary". The Speaker should know. Twelve years ago, when a lowly backbencher, Bercow himself was upbraided for using the very same word. "Conman!" he yelled at Gordon Brown, the then Chancellor, during a debate on the euro. The Speaker at the time, Michael Martin, called for order and immediately asked Bercow to withdraw his "unparliamentary remark". Which he did.

Following my item about Andrew Mitchell's use of the word "fed" in reference to police officers, a reader points out that this is a common tactic among those trying to ingratiate themselves with the police. Anthony Nicholson says that "fed" is short for Police Federation, and that using police argot is a tactic often used by people stopped for a motoring offence. "As demonstrated in this case," he notes, "it seldom works."

Heard on the Hill

Ever since Richard Curtis's 1999 film Notting Hill, tourists have made a pilgrimage to the blue door off Portobello Road. For a while, the west London suburb had a rival attraction, in the form of Annie Lennox sitting in a shop window. The Eurythmics singer, who lives locally, was seen listening to the speeches of Martin Luther King, which were playing at Boo's vintage clothing store. "She came in and asked if she could listen to the CD of The Landmark Speeches," explains Boo. "So she sat down and listened to it for an hour, as other shoppers came and went." Lennox has always taken inspiration from great leaders: she has worked extensively with Nelson Mandela to combat Aids. Boo, meanwhile, explains the origin of her name. "I have high eyebrows, which make me look like I'm permanently in a state of shock."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Chief Executive

£28, 700: Whiskey Whiskey Tango: Property Management Company is seeking a brig...

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?