SEVERAL YEARS AGO, I found myself on the side of the baddies in a broadcast of The Moral Maze on BBC Radio Four. It was about immigration and I was arguing that my fellow immigrants here ought to throw their hats in the air several times an hour for having the chance to bathe in the warm glow of this wonderful culture. Suddenly my trivial side took over and I said: 'Look at me. I'd die if I couldn't listen to a string quartet by Haydn for two weeks.' This gave a chance to David Starkey, the bloodhound in the pack of interrogators, to jump in with a display of his brilliance. He shouted: 'And he is very English,' which, in turn, provoked an equally mindless retort from me. 'He did love an English woman,' I said, knowing that loving women wasn't Starkey's cup of tea.
Unbeknown to me at the time, my friend Peter Hobday - who presented Masterworks, three hours of classical music on Radio Three every morning - was thinking of writing a portrait of that very woman, Rebecca Schroeter (née Scott). And a moving, quietly satisfying story it turns out to be,