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Grimm and bear it

Tim Supple's eagerly awaited production of the Kipling classic, The Jungle Book, will banish Disney from the memory. This is the same team that produced last year's dark, dazzlingly imaginative Grimm Tales, which held children and adults spellbound. Young Vic, London. 0171-928 6363.

Be aware

The widespread ignorance that surrounds the disorder autism is to be challenged in Autism Awareness Week, beginning with the launch of a book, Could This Be Autism?, at the British Medical Association in London. The National Autistic Society opens its campaign to make health authorities responsible for early detection and intervention of the disorder, and to ensure that teaching staff are adequately trained in how to teach autistic children. 0181-451 1114.

The Blues bother

Preparations go up a gear for one of the oddest rituals of the sporting year, the University Boat Race, which takes place in March. Oxford stage their trials on the Thames at 10am. The Cam- bridge team are slightly slower off the mark - it's their go on Friday.

Sweet of voice

The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden revives Aida with the soprano Sharon Sweet in the title role. ROH, London. 0171-304 4000.


Tu-be or not

Tipping the scales at 100 tons, with more than 160 seats and expected to entice bids in excess of pounds 10,000, London Underground has made available the most unusual Christmas present of them all: a six-carriage tube train. It's ideal for a train buff with lots of garage space or an eccentric club owner with an eye for a novel venue. Auction, of this and other transport memorabilia, at 11am at the Natural History Museum, London. 0171-938 9123.

Home stretch

At last the embarrassment is coming to an end. Blackburn Rovers and Rangers play their last games in the European Champions League, without - of course - a hope of reaching the knock-out stages. Blackburn play the Norwegian champions Rosenborg while Rangers go to Borussia Dortmund.

Punk drunk

Take a noisy trip down memory lane with The Stranglers (Coliseum Watford, 01923 445300; Colston Hall, Bristol tomorrow; and on and on). Not the same line-up that numbed our skulls all those many years ago, but still strong, rough and rude.


Choose a loo

Nine hundred entrants, including Canterbury Cathedral, scrubbing feverishly, are up for the Loo of the Year Award. To win the mahogany and brass trophy, the lavatory must be well designed and clean, but must also boast a caring and committed staff.

Fill a flask

Stress costs the United Kingdom economy pounds 10bn per year and the business in angst has boomed. At the Occupational Stress Conference at the Forum Hotel, in London SW7, a typical day begins with coffee. There is a coffee break at 11am, coffee after lunch, and then a coffee break at 3pm. The speeches end at 4.30, leaving time for a cup before dinner. Stress? More caffeine, please.

Euro pool

Senior European ministers - not the most senior, more the Endsleigh League variety - gather in Brussels for the EU Reflection Group. They will be looking forward to the summit later this month in Madrid and seeing if they can come up with ideas for further reform. Probably not.



Having been chopped down, dragged from freezing Scandinavian mountain tops, shipped across the North Sea, then trucked in to London from Folkestone, the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree will have its 500 lights turned on. The 75ft tree is the 49th such gift from Norway to the people of Britain for their help during the Second World War. Five million trees are sold in the UK every year.

Top tipple

Under the hammer at Christie's Finest and Rarest wine auction: a 30-litre bottle of Taylor's 1963 port (estimate pounds 4,000), and a jeroboam of 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. A case of the legendary 1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc will set you back pounds 30,000, or pounds 417 per glass.

Power games

Labour makes its play for the terraces' vote with the launch of a Football Charter. It will look at violence on the pitch, match-fixing and hooliganism. Labour also wants more females to play.

Telling tales

Lend an ear to Taffy Thomas, storyteller extraordinaire, who regales his audience (Coronation Hall, Ulverston, Cumbria, 01229 587120) with some of his repertoire of more than 250 tales.


Glad to be grey

The Archbishop of York, the Rt Rev David Hope, will be enthroned at a magnificent ceremony in York Minster. Dr Hope, an opponent of female priests, will become the 96th to hold the post and the first to have told the nation that his sexuality is a "grey area".

Stamp of genius

The trifling matter of his having been dead for 15 years has done little to contain John Lennon's huge media profile in the current frenzy of Beatlemania. Ad men from Antigua to Azerbaijan, from the Maldives to Nicaragua, have commemorated the anniversary of the singer's death with today's release of a mere 15 million "collectors" postage stamps.

Presidential sweet

Rob Reiner is the chameleon of cinema: he's gone from Misery to A Few Good Men quicker than you could say When Harry Met Sally. Now he's gone back to the mood of the latter with American President (12), a frothy tale of a burgeoning romance between Mr President (Michael Douglas) and an environmental lobbyist (Annette Bening). Sure to be a crowd-pleaser if nothing else.


Bids for four more bits of our collapsing rail system have to be in today. Up for grabs: East Coast Line, Gatwick Express, Midland Main Line and Network South Central.


Blow out

Don't scoff: Walthamstow teeny idols East 17 have grown up with their brilliantly diverse new album Up All Night and reflect the transition with enormous shows at the Royal Albert Hall. Who cares if the RAH has no atmosphere? East 17 could play the Vatican and blow the roof off. Their tour earlier this year was exhilarating, inventive and chaotic. These shows won't be any calmer.

Getting at France

After a frantic year of peace settlements, truces, ceasefires, rumour, and even a whisper that John Major was being considered, the Nobel Peace Prize will be presented in Oslo. The $1m prize is shared by Joseph Rothlat and the Pugwash Conferences, for their efforts in reducing the nuclear threat since the Second World War. It is awarded partly as a show of contempt for current nuclear testing by France.

Sharp Tharp

Twyla Tharp, America's most thrilling choreographer, works with the Royal Ballet for the first time with Mr Worldly Wise, danced to an all-Rossini score. Her previous work includes the wondrous Nine Sinatra Songs, so expect the unexpected. Covent Garden, London. 0171-304 4000.

Be a pet

Treat your favourite mutt to a squeaky Christmas pudding, complete with brandy butter (99p Pet City, 01753 570888). If you are feeling more generous (or a bit barking) treat the creature to a travel hamper (pounds 29.50). Nothing edible, just pooch paraphernalia - tin openers, bowls - essential gear for a doggy night away.


It is going to continue mild and miserable but will end with a flourish of bitter cold and even a possible centimetre or two of snow in the usually mild South.