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Gut Barging: Britain's bargers extend a friendly paunch to Japan

The gut-barging year reached a thrilling climax at its world championships in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, last weekend when Mad Maurice, "the Belgian from Melksham" retained the title he has held for the past four years.

Angela Lewis on pop

How bizarre a concept The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (below) looked at their birth back in 1990. What had made Spencer, formerly leader of New York's notorious punk wastrels, Pussy Galore, want to don a silver shirt and form a blues band? Quite a shift that, but one that has provided four albums of flamboyantly uncivilised, raw and funky albums to date. Pussy Galore's high sleaze factor lives on, but in place of trashy white noise there's punky black blues-manship. All fun and good stuff for Spencer's studenty alternative fan base who wouldn't know the blues if they sat on a Howlin' Wolf vinyl LP and broke it. For blues virgins, Spencer is pretty freaky and clever to boot.

Site Unseen: `Diver Bill', Winchester Cathedral

The great Anglican cathedrals seem so permanent and enduring a part of our landscape that it is hard to imagine a Britain without them. Durham, Canterbury, Wells, Salisbury and many others will surely be here for eternity and a day.

Decca Aitkenhead on clubs

Legends is one of those clubs which have been been running successfully for so long now that there's a danger of assuming you know all there is to know about it. Tucked in the heart of Mayfair, it already, rightly, enjoys a reputation as a sophisticated venue for a slightly older crowd - but the past few months have seen some major developments.

4-10 October day planner

Today

Richard Ingleby on exhibitions

It is 200 years since the birth of David Roberts, an anniversary that is being celebrated in a small, mainly biographical, exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. At the centre of the show is a portrait of Roberts painted by his friend Robert Scott Lauder in 1840 (detail shown right), the year of Robert's return from his only trip to the Near and Middle East. He strikes the swaggering pose of a romantic hero: an Oriental traveller in the mould of Lord Byron or Burton; beturbanned and swathed in silks; his hand rests on his hip, his fingers on the hilt of his sword.

Liese Spencer on film

Orson Welles (below) ballooning around with swollen malevolence, Marlene Dietrich in gypsy trinkets and Chuck Heston playing Latino. Touch of Evil is Hollywood class dressed-down as fly-blown melodrama. Based on Whit Masterson's paperback thriller, the film landed in Welles's lap at the dog end of his career. After 10 years in Europe, the great director had returned to Hollywood, only to wind up doing magic tricks on TV. Welles rewrote the script, slapped on a new title and set about directing what has become a cult classic.

David Benedict on theatre

Are all American theatrefolk Catholic? Confession is big news across the pond. Give 'em a stage, and they'll tell all. Dim the lights and express your pain (preferably from the perspective of an oppressed minority), and hey presto! you've got a show. Call me a racist, sexist git if you will, but I thought there was more to theatre than spilling your guts.

Decca Aitkenhead on clubs

Legends is one of those clubs which have been been running successfully for so long now that there's a danger of assuming you know all there is to know about it. Tucked in the heart of Mayfair, it already, rightly, enjoys a reputation as a sophisticated venue for a slightly older crowd - but the past few months have seen some major developments.

David Benedict on theatre

Are all American theatrefolk Catholic? Confession is big news across the pond. Give 'em a stage, and they'll tell all. Dim the lights and express your pain (preferably from the perspective of an oppressed minority), and hey presto! you've got a show. Call me a racist, sexist git if you will, but I thought there was more to theatre than spilling your guts.

Pick of the Week: Memorabilia

Rock archivists and film fetishists can inch closer to their idols today when a job lot of star junk goes under the hammer. Monroe's sunglasses, Hendrix's Afghan jacket (left) and a harmonica played by Bob Dylan are all up for grabs.

James Rampton on comedy

Mark Steel's new book of stories from the comedy circuit goes by the curious title of It's Not a Runner Bean. The author (below) explains: "It was 1987 and I was doing a dreadful corporate gig. It was a fortnight after the Tories had won the election, and everyone there was 25 years old. They were all wearing bow-ties and drunk. They were celebrating getting a contract, but I didn't know what for. Huge piles of food on tables were being tipped over and chocolate mousse was being poured down girls' bras - absolute decadence. I went on and tried to maintain my dignity, but it went dreadfully. Then one bloke came up and threw a runner bean at me. I lost it a bit and said to him, 'That's why people like you are hugely rich and nurses are paid nothing, because you enjoy throwing runner beans at people'. He replied, 'It's not a runner bean, it's a mange tout.' I later found out that they'd won a contract to design a crisp packet - you'd be hard-pushed to find anything more worthless. That was one of the things that gave me the idea for this book. I thought it was a brilliant way of seeing what state the country's in. The comedy circuit is a marvellous microscope on the way things are."

13 - 19 September day planner

Today

Iain Gale on exhibitions

Gerald Laing is a much maligned man. In their reviews of his retrospective exhibition at Edinburgh Fruit Market Gallery three years ago, the critics seemed united in their disapproval and 30 years work was dismissed out of hand as they condemned his recent stylistic developments towards an increasingly smooth figuration. But a look at the current show of his prints at Whitford Fine Art reveals an artist who does not deserve such summary treatment.

Ryan Gilbey on film

The film festival season is upon us. Cambridge and Edinburgh have both been terrific successes. (Quick update on the latter: 31,000 people attended this year; were they all at Pulp's "Scene By Scene" event? No, it just felt that way.) And before London gets what it deserves in November, it's time for one of the smaller but more interesting digressions from normal programming. The Latin American Film Festival (which began last week and runs until next Thursday) has grown this year, and attracted some prestigious work. You may already have heard of Lone Star, the second film by underdog auteur John Sayles to be released this year (after the more disappointing The Secret of Roan Inish). It's the story of a revelatory murder investigation near the Rio Grande, and features brilliant performances by Frances McDormand and the underused Kris Kristofferson.
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Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz