LITERATURE

"I've been chasing that bitch for 25 years, and now I've passed her" was Camille Paglia's memorable dismissal of Susan Sontag (right, photographed by Annie Leibovitz) in her 1990 rant, Sexual Personnae, but it will take more than one self-publicising vulgarian to dispatch Sontag. Now in her sixties, the high-brow New York writer continues to publish both cultural essays and fiction, such as the recent novel, The Volcano. Hear her read from her work on Wednesday at the Royal Festival Hall's Fiction International, alongside Holland's leading pen-pusher, Cees Nooteboom, and our own Julian Barnes. RFH, London SE1 (0171-960 4242) 7.30pm pounds 7

FILM

The young turks of British cinema (past and present) are celebrated at the ICA this month in a season of avant-garde films. Work ranges from a fetishistic 1960s Mephistopheles to more familiar pieces like Sally Potter's lush period piece, Orlando (left). The season starts this weekend with Borderline, a meditation on racism in Britain made in 1930. ICA, London SW1 (0171-930 3647) 6.30pm pounds 5

POP

Next week, Seventies folksters Fairport Convention begin a national tour to commemorate their 30 years together. This is not, perhaps, strictly accurate, since the band was formed by singer-songwriter Richard Thompson and his wife Linda, now happily divorced after many years of weirdly creative domestic misery. Still, the deliciously melancholic melodies remain. Immerse yourself in them on the first night of their tour in Tewkesbury on Tuesday. Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire (01684 295074) 7.30pm pounds 12

PHOTOGRAPHY

Dogger, Fisher, German Bight - although few people can fathom its meaning, the BBC's radio Shipping Forecast is something many people enjoy hearing every day, finding its strange litany of bad weather on the high seas ("rain: good") an obscure comfort. One such land-lubber is photographer Mark Power, who, after studying the 31 classified sea areas that make up the forecast, has put together a collection of black-and-white prints (left) designed to evoke the atmosphere and images conjured up by the forecast. See his work in Brighton from today, accompanied by an ambient soundtrack of forecasts, wind, rain and crying gulls. Oh, and the immortal "Sailing By", of course. Museum and Art Gallery, Church St, Brighton (01273 603005) to 2 Mar

ART

A Pop Art pal of David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield is best known for brightly-coloured still lifes, mascaraed with heavy black outlines. In the 1960s, he became intrigued by the work of Jules Laforgue, a 19th- century French poet who wrote free verse at a time when most still-life painters were still interested in capturing the bloom on grapes. After reading Laforgues' poems about modern life in the 1880s, Caulfield produced a series of prints. Oh Helen, I roam my room (right) is one such work, and visitors to the Caulfield exhibition which opens on Friday can also enjoy the artist's visually cool interpretations of such plangent cries as "Her handkerchief swept me along the Rhine".

Colchester Institute, Essex (0171-921 0837) Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm

EVENTS

Allow yourself to be soft-soaped at the Ragged School Museum next week, when it launches its first piece of installation art: Land of Laundries. Designed by the gloriously named Al Johnson, the exhibition boasts a series of bronze sculpted hands, linked by a stream of laundry, stitched with stories, songs and verse. The atmosphere will be awash with oral history and the smell of the soap powder as Eastenders testify to the importance of a collective ritual which inspires emotions from pleasure to hatred. In short, no white wash. 46-50 Copperfield Road, London, Wed and Thur 10am-5pm, first Sun of each month 2-5pm. From Wed

CLASSICAL

Sexy cross-over violinst Vanessa-Mae plays Nottingham this week, performing her own brand(ed) form of "Now That's What I Call Classical Music". Mae's prodigious talent has, in the past, led to comparisons with Mozart. Not quite the outlandish parallel as it may sound, as, like the Viennese wunderkind, Mae is notorious for a vivacious vulgarity, being best known for introducing the wet T-shirt competition to the fusty old world of orchestral music. Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham (0115- 948 2626) Wed 7.30pm pounds 10.50-17.50

THEATRE

A gothic fairytale for the 1990s, Philip Ridley's Pitchfork Disney describes the ingrown world of chocoholic twins, Haley and Presley. Since it opened six years ago, the play has sold out in America and achieved cult status in Berlin. See the play this week in Bolton.

Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South, Bolton (01204 520661) 7.30pm pounds 7-12.75

HYPE ALERT

Jonathan Ross has already nominated The Mighty World of Marvel, an arcane little rag originally edited by Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant. If your preferred reading is The Eagle or cult 1980s comic Swamp Thing, you might like to get on the blower over the next couple of weeks to cast your vote for the Best British Comic Ever. Proceeds go towards the charity ChildLine. 0891 22 44 22

A season of Raqs Sharqi masterclasses - an ancient art which originated in Egypt and Turkey hundreds of years ago - begins at the Albany Theatre today. Better known as belly-dancing, this athletic art form was a way for concubines to while away their boredom in the harems, rather than simply a stomach stunt to satisfy the carnal desires of their masters. If your New Year's resolution was to get fit, then why not get imaginative and try wriggling your tummy at a dance school near you. Albany Theatre, Deptford, London (0181-692 0231) 4pm pounds 5-8. Women only

If the idea of gyrating your turkey-fed tum makes you blanch, why not take a back seat and enjoy the pleasure of stillness, or The Stillness of Pleasure (left), indeed, a dance-theatre piece exploring sensual awareness. Based on the Kama Sutra, Tripsichore Yoga Theatre's production uses the fluid vocabulary of yoga to describe a story in which a couple's marriage is interrupted by a Wind Demon which destroys their village. On a search for matrimony, the survivors instead find the "power that animates the universe". Phew. Last perfs today, Turtle Key Arts Centre, London SW6 (0171-385 4905) 4pm, 8pm pounds 7-9

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