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Angela Lewis on pop

Black British soul music might be microscopic in influence compared with its monolithic American counterpart, but when it works in mysterious ways, it's satisfying stuff. Gabrielle (below right) and Mark Morrison illustrate the point. Both took up residency in the Top 10 earlier this year. Gabrielle's "Give Me a Little More Time" was a south London Motown oddity, while Morrison played strictly by the slick, US R&B rules, and was blander for it. Gabrielle didn't have a Number one, but had the raw earnesty to hit where it hurts. And so, too, does her eponymous album. Her songs of emotional wear and tear, plus gritty insight in "Forget About the World", come from someone who takes from inside rather than production- line soul techniques.

David Benedict on theatre

"Three handkerchief weepie" is a phrase usually associated with a Bette Davis movie of more than usual excess. But it also covers audiences crying with laughter at performances by Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding, better known as Lip Service. How, then, to explain this deranged cross between a demented bumble bee and an outraged lacrosse stick?

Iain Gale on exhibitions

Even in the current climate of renewed enthusiasm for Victorian painting, spearheaded by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's seemingly tireless bidding at auction on the pre-Raphaelites and late Romantics, certain themes and artists of the golden age of narrative painting continue to remain out of fashion or relatively unknown. One such example is Harold Swanwick, currently re-investigated at the Towner Art Gallery in Eastbourne.

For better, for worse

If you're having doubts about tying the knot, then Brian Hill's documentary, The State of Marriage, could confirm your worst fears. James Rampton reports

on the box

Having peeked behind the doors of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in True Brits, the BBC is now training its cameras on the Ministry of Defence. Broadcast in five parts on BBC1 from 8 August, Defence of the Realm explores some of the country's most secretive organisations. Series producer Richard Bradley has filmed the nuclear bunker below Whitehall and the firing-room of a Trident submarine. Nicholas Soames MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces and apologist for Prince Charles on the night of Diana's Panorama interview, gives another typically robust performance. "We are blessed by our armed forces," he says. "If British industry was run by the armed services, we'd be bloody Japan!"

site unseen The Customs House, King's Lynn

Arguments over the European Union, a single currency and tabloid xenophobia can obscure the fact that, for centuries, we have happily traded with the towns and cities of what is now Germany. Imports, exports - we both benefited.

More than child's play

Suzanna Drew-Edwards takes the rollercoaster trip of a lifetime, and guides us through the best children's activities this summer

pick of the week


Jake Slack on clubs

Any large club worth its salt these days has a movie room, although it usually consists of little more than a dodgy video projector and the organiser's bedsheet hanging from the ceiling. And if there's any soundtrack at all, you can never hear it over the bleed from the techno being pumped out next door. But at Blue Fluid, a new monthly slot at the Forum - described as a "soiree" rather than just another club - they're putting the complimentary movie (tonight, it's Priscilla Queen of the Desert) at the top of the bill, with good sound and cinemascope guaranteed.

James Rampton on comedy

Jimeoin (below), an Irish comedian based in Australia, got his big break on a Down Under daytime TV programme called The Midday Show. "It's just like Pebble Mill," he reveals. "I really enjoy daytime TV. Nightime TV can be a bit too hip for its own good. Daytime TV is like doing comedy in a supermarket, nobody really notices you're there. When you get to the punchline, the audience just knit quicker." He soon graduated to hosting Tonight Live - "a direct rip-off of Late Night with Letterman" - and has since become the biggest thing in Australia this side of Merv Hughes's moustache.

Jake Slack on clubs

Even if the sun don't shine this weekend, Luton Hoo Estate is sure to be warmed by the hyperbole. "UK Tribal Gathering 1995," says the press release, "was the best dance party anywhere in the world." And who knows? Perhaps it was. It certainly had an illustrious history to recommend it. The First Tribal Gathering, in 1993, won best one-off event in that year's Mixmag/DMC awards; the second was held in the Old International Airport in Munich and filled the terminal buildings with 25,000 people. TG 1995 itself was the first large-scale outdoor dance party to be granted a licence since the Criminal Justice Bill became law.


Whith is the odd one out?


In how many distinct ways may the letters of "BOBBY FISCHER" be arranged into two "words"? Any "word" must contain at least one vowel or "y". (Answers on Tuesday)


You would expect a player in a vulnerable grand slam to take more care than usual. Perhaps the chance of winning a huge rubber induced South to take his eye off the ball.
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