The Saturday Miscellany: How to Xmas shop for £0; Rewatching 2001: A Space Odyssey; Lionel Shriver's bookshelf


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How to: Xmas shop for £0

By Oscar Quine

Glittery, pricey things are lovely. But if you're feeling the pinch, or after something a little more homespun, follow this guide to an affordable Christmas from Janice Langley, Chair of the National Federation of the Women's Institute.

"Making your own jam or chutney is easier than you think. Find a recipe on our website (, such as plum and mulled wine jam, and spend the day making presents that will see your friends through a dark and gloomy January."

"Choose a simple paper – brown paper can look great – and create unique gift tags cutting old Christmas cards cut with pinking shears."

"Make your own edible tree decorations using gingerbread. Put a hole through the top of the dough as you shape it. When cooled, ice, then thread a ribbon through the hole and hang on your tree."

"It's one of pop's most unlikely stories that 'West End Girls' was meant to be an English take on Grandmaster Flash's 'The Message'. In reality it was more like John Betjeman backed by OMD's melancholy Mellotrons."

Rewatching '2001'

By Guy Keleny

How we loved 2001: A Space Odyssey in the hippyish Sixties. Deep cosmological meanings! The destiny of the human race explained! Psychedelic splurges of colour! Wow, man, that really blew my mind!

It is fun to rediscover films you saw decades earlier. Some stand up well, among them Kubrick's previous outing, Dr Strangelove, just as sharp as it was in 1964. But 2001 – oh dear! Of this portentous gloom-fest only one sequence still thrills: the docking of the shuttle to the strains of "The Blue Danube".

The years have been particularly unkind to HAL 9000, a great steam-driven mainframe like they used to have in the basements of banks, but endowed with personality. Now, in 2001 plus 12, we have computers that fit into a briefcase, but artificial intelligence remains a distant dream (or nightmare).

Instant Ethics

By Ellen E Jones

Dear Ellen

Q. My platonic male friend is always being mistaken for my boyfriend. How can I let the world know we're both single and ready to mingle?

A. Alas, The Law of RomCom dictates you're destined to end up together, but you can forestall the inevitable by dressing sluttier and never making eye contact with him in public .


Four play: Mary Whitehouse* complaints

1. Doctor Who

2. Panorama coverage of Belsen

3. 'My Ding-a-Ling'

4. ITV's Robin of Sherwood

* Died this day in 2001