54 By Wu Ming

Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even President Tito...

The Heart of America - American icon - The Greyhound bus

The slogan reads: "Travel throughout North America with safety, dignity and convenience". Greyhound still sends off more than 20,000 buses every day. The Dog got its start in 1914 in Hibbing, Minnesota, transporting iron miners. Its big break was the film It Happened One Night (1934), in which Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert rode a Greyhound overnight to Florida. The Dog has been a national institution ever since. The rise of the low-cost airlines has hit the very long-distance services, yet Greyhound still has a seamless network of transport covering much of the country. You'll see a different US, one that only rarely makes the American news, the one where almost all Americans live. That's my country, and once you get the knack of navigating it, it's not such a bad place after all.

Lord and lady of the dance

Putting on a 'Strictly Come Dancing' bash for 300-odd guests is par for the course for the party-mad Harrisons, says Simon Beckett

Album: Martina Topley-Bird

Quixotic, Independiente

Camille, Lyric Hammersmith, London

Beauty and the beast

Camille, Lyric, Hammersmith

A feverish affair of the nerves rather than the heart

The Unexpurgated Beaton, by Cecil Beaton (edited by Hugo Vickers)

Nice one, Cecil: your bitch's brew is just delicious

David Boyle: Off to see the euro wizard?

From the alternative Mansion House Speech given by the economist at a meeting in Fleet Street, London

THE GUILLOTINE: Twentieth-Century Classics That Won't Last No 49: `GONE WITH THE WIND'

The argument was most succinctly put by the dramatist Jean Giraudoux. "Il n'y a pas d'oeuvres," he claimed, "il n'y a que des auteurs". There are no works, there are only authors. Or auteurs. For, as the millennial threshold approaches, it's increasingly clear that the auteurists were right. The films destined to survive are those whose formal and stylistic distinction can be traced to an individual creative personality, while the films destined to fade are those whose directors were little more than capable hired hands employed to pull all the material together, celluloid "conductors", so to speak, rather than "composers".

Words: tote, adj. and v.

A CURIOUS aspect of Neil Hamilton's libel case is his daily arrival at court with a London Library tote bag prominently displayed. One must wonder what that august and congenial private library makes of this unusual product placement.

Films of the week

REGENERATION

Arts: Dead stars walking

`Forget Tom Cruise, get me Clark Gable!' Death used to finish a star's career, but not any more.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there