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Newcastle's premier crew

Last year it was Manchester United who carried all before them; this year it is Newcastle, who will be at Crystal Palace tomorrow for the afternoon's Premier League game. Nobody has beaten them yet, and nobody has got the measure of Andy Cole (below), a striker who scores breathtaking goals as a matter of course. Only the England manager, Terry Venables, has managed to resist him: Cole's team-mates Peter Beardsley, Robert Lee and Barry Venison have all been picked for the national team this season, but Cole has remained essentially a local hero - which is fine by those whose locality is Tyneside. The 'toon army' will be out in force to support Cole (an Arsenal reject) and the team; but the raucous fans are a peace-keeping force, and any occasional football-goer will find that they make good company.

Question of timing

On Tuesday Tony Blair will have his first dispatch-box clash with John Major. Blair has told friends he plans a new approach to the twice-weekly exchange of animal noises and synthetic laughter. He wants to be grown-up, try the odd serious question and not feel each bout requires its carefully-rehearsed soundbite of anti-Tory abuse. Harold Wilson as Labour leader refrained from intervening every time, so when he did it was treated as an event. Will Blair be as radical? Will he be able to avoid the predictable cheap shot? Or will he, perhaps, be knocked over by John 'Tigerpants' Major?

A woman's place

We have notable women chef-proprietors, but none on a par with Nico Ladenis, Simon Hopkinson or Alastair Little. On Tuesday, a 32-year-old contender, Caroline Brett (far right), will open a large restaurant-cum-deli, the Union Cafe (96 Marylebone Lane, W1; 071-486 4860). Seasonal food will be clean and elegant. Pastry, made by Brett's long-time sous-chef, Samantha Russell, might include cognac, chocolate and walnut tarts. Lunches pounds 15-pounds 17 incl wine; set price dinners pounds 15 for two courses, pounds 18.50 for three. Open 10am-10pm (last orders) Mon-Fri. Switch, Delta, cash and cheques only.

Don McCullin

Don McCullin is in a class of his own. No British photographer has approached his powers in conveying the tragedies and cruelty that have beset the world over the past 40 years. Throughout the Sixties and Seventies, largely in the pages of the Sunday Times Magazine, he documented human misery and deprivation from Bradford to Cambodia: the picture on the left shows Congolese soldiers tormenting their captives. An exhibition at the Hamilton Gallery (13 Carlos Place, W1; October 19-November 19) documents McCullin's life in photography, from his first published pictures (of gangs in Finsbury Park in the 1950s) to his most recent work. Why visit an exhibition where many of the photographs are familiar? Because the prints have a quality with which no published version can quite compete.

Cranberry season

Here's the story of The Cranberries' Excellent Adventure: gigging band in rural Ireland put out a demo tape, get snapped up by major label, support hot young things Suede on US tour and usurp them when sweet-tasting, MTV-friendly single ('Linger') tickles American tastebuds. The music is ethereal folk-pop, a tossed salad of Cocteau Twins, Sundays and Clannad. There's a jot of Sinead O'Connor on the punchy follow-up 'Zombie' too. They play Shepherd's Bush Empire (081-740 7474) on Sunday and Monday. A new album, No Need to Argue (Island), is out now.

Terence and Priscilla

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a 'life-affirming comedy' that flirts with daring and falls for cheap sentiment: three drag queens stalk the outback in stacked heels and teased hair. The locals recoil but soon learn - you know they would - that even boys who will be girls have a certain nobility, not to mention an in-born gift for pitching one-liners Bette Davis would have killed for.

The film would be as disposable as a packet of Pampers if not for one thing: Terence Stamp as the Mother of All Drag Acts.

Like Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams before him, Stamp isn't constrained by his gladrags but liberated. . . dressed to excess, he's never been so there on the screen - no, not even as Billy Budd or The Collector.

Which might seem weird until you consider what a few beads did for Curtis and Lemmon in Some Like It Hot and how hot the word of mouth is on Wesley Snipes' frock-horror turn in the forthcoming To Wong Fo. The competition for next

(Photograph omitted)