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literacy

Which is the odd one out:

Bridge

Declarer fell for an old trap on this deal. It was one of those hands where there was a direct route to success, irrespective of whether West was having a little game or not.

Site unseen / The Royal Albert Bridge, Cornwall

Life is full of firsts. The first step, the first drink, the first cigarette, the first boy/girlfriend, the first driving test, the first ...

Iain Gale on exhibitions

The opening this week of the summer exhibition at the Royal Academy, calls to mind one of the few highlights of last year's show - a pair of vivid semi-abstract paintings by Barbara Rae. The fact that these works continue to haunt the mind is sufficient proof of the considerable power and presence of this important, though still relatively unknown British painter.

John Lyttle on film

Sometimes a movie is all incidentals. Sometimes it has to be. From Dusk to Dawn (below right), for instance, bills itself as a vampire flick, but has absolutely nothing to add to cinema's vampire lore, while its plot - or plots - are shamelessly borrowed from Cape Fear and The Evil Dead, the latter stitched to the former in a manner Baron Frankenstein might consider crude.

David Benedict on theatre

The whole of Broadway knew that Zoe Caldwell's powerhouse performance as Maria Callas in Masterclass was a dead cert for best actress at this year's Tony Awards. British producers have been winging their way across the Atlantic to put their bids in for the London production. British names suggested for the role include Frances de la Tour, Maggie Smith and Diana Rigg.

Olivia Gwyn-Jones on clubs

In honour of the Euro 96 invasion, Soccercity Shine opens on Friday night at the Hacienda, Manchester. The Hacienda is the grand dame of northern house clubs, leading the dance scene from its Fac 51 springboard. Shine has been running for more than four years, but it is decked out in smart new international kit, with guest DJs in keeping with the European sporting theme.

Angela Lewis on pop

The most dynamic offering on techno dub outfit Zion Train's fifth album Grow Together is "Babylon's Burning (repetitive beats mix)". Yes, it's the old Ruts punk classic, but with the 1970s guitars stripped away and a juggernaut of hard, frenetic beats in their place. The fiery spirit and "Babylon's Burning" rant remains, but in a mid-1990s context. The other telling thing about Zion Train is their magazine called The Wobbler (Universal Egg & the Wibbly Wobbly World of Music). No, stop sniggering - included among the 22 protest groups' addresses which are mentioned on the back page are Reclaim the Streets, Cannabis Hemp Information Club, Hunt Sabs Association and Road Alert. They are not simply a band - they are a way of life.

Film of the week: The Confessional

Robert Lepage's convoluted thriller is rich, dark and wry, its brooding tone neatly tempered by a ticklish sense of humour. It's set in Quebec City in 1952, where Hitchcock is shooting I Confess, and on the sidelines, a pregnant 16-year-old is opening her heart to a priest; and in 1989, too, when the girl's son tries to trace his father and discovers a trail of red herrings that would have foxed Hitchcock. It doesn't add up to much, but it's fun doing the sums.

James Rampton on comedy

Liverpool is traditionally seen as a hotbed of humour - an impression reinforced by the Euro Comedy 96 Festival currently taking place in the city. But local comedian Terry Titter (below), who is hosting shows during the Festival, and who recently won an award from the Liverpool Echo as Comedian of the Year, dismisses the popular image of his home town as a "tired myth". "It seems that because of the Liver Birds, Bread, Jimmy Tarbuck and Cilla Black, people think everyone in Liverpool is a comedian. But I don't think people here are any funnier than in Newcastle, Edinburgh or Leeds. I find it a hindrance. I get a groan from people when they hear I'm from Liverpool. They think, 'Oh no, not another cheeky, chirpy Scouser'. You've got a lot of baggage to get past."

numeracy

It's the 7th of June, so here are some sevens to ponder:

On the box

A Manchester GP earlier this week was warning that excessive viewing of sport on TV this summer might lead to an epidemic of a condition to which there is no known cure: mad couch disease. It seems that some viewers may be afflicted by it already - if the BBC2 viewing figues for the week ending 5 May are anything to go by. Viewers were keeping that pizza-delivery man busy and hunkering down on the sofa in front of the San Marino Grand Prix (5.04m viewers), the World Snooker championships (4.86m), and the Badminton Horse Trials (3.29m) - all of which made the channel's Top 10 that week. And that's long before the mid-summer madness of Euro 96, Test cricket, Wimbledon and the Olympics ...

Iain Gale on exhibitions

Exhibitions

Literacy

Appropriate anagrams: who are the following:

James Rampton on comedy

James Rampton on comedy
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