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The Independent Culture
Soap of the week

Coronation Street, for years one of the few places in Britain lacking an Asian corner shop, or indeed many other representatives of our rich ethnic mix, is to even things up a bit with a new black character. Excellent news, you might think, that our longest running soap, which prides itself on being "true to life", is moving with the times.

But within minutes of his debut, teenager Marcus (played by Joseph Jacobs), will burgle Curly Watts's home. Now, such racial stereotyping might satisfy the small-minded prejudices of the likes of Hilda Ogden and Ena Sharples, but perhaps the story line might have tried to be just a little, well, truer to life.

Jogger of the week

Winter draws on for you - and your pet. Inured as we are to conspicuous consumption by spoilt animals, the "Cosipet Dog Jogging Suit" takes the Bonio. It's described thus: "The sporty look that keeps your dog warm and dry. Soft and comfortable to wear and easy to put on and take off using the single zip. The trouser legs are kept neatly in place by elasticated cuffs." At least the terrier looks happy.

Missing link of the week

Just in case you were wondering, it's been found. Australopithecus ramidus is South African, 3.5 million years old, and your ancestor and mine.

Goon of the week

In the FBI's 10-in-thick file on Frank Sinatra, now released, we discover that Frank might have been lost to entertainment. In 1947, the Bureau notes: "Sinatra enjoys surrounding himself with hoodlums and would give up his showbusiness prominence to be a hoodlum himself if he had the courage to do so". The G-men also documented the death threat in 1969 when Sinatra was asked to make a pounds 1.2m donation to the Vatican (yes, really) in return for his life. (The man who made the threat was sent to a psychiatric home.) Frank's file is not on the FBI website (although Hitler's and Marilyn Monroe's are) but it is at: www.apbonline.com/ breaking news/frank/ download center.html Ring-a-ding-ding.

Image of the week

Naked Portrait With Reflection by Lucian Freud. It fetched pounds 2,806,500, the most expensive modern painting ever sold in Europe. Freud is choosy about his subjects, preferring family and friends, and sometimes finds models among characters chanced upon in London clubs. Wonder if he has ever, by chance, met Ann Widdecombe?

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