Arts and Entertainment

I hadn't realised – until I read this book – how much work Henry VIII's marital problems caused the stonemasons of Hampton Court. After years of carving the letters H&C all over the place, Henry got rid of Catherine of Aragon, so the Cs had to be reworked as As. But, no sooner was the last A in place than Anne Boleyn was executed on Tower Hill and the As had to become Js to suit Jane Seymour, who promptly died in childbirth. And there were still three more queens to go, so, lots more chiseling, presumably.

BEST-SELLERS / Top 10 Postcard Portraits

----------------------------------------------------------------- TOP 10 POSTCARD PORTRAITS ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 . . Elizabeth I 2. . .Henry VIII 3. . .Bronte Sisters 4. . .Virginia Woolf 5. . .Shakespeare 6. . .Emily Bronte 7. . .Anne Boleyn 8. . .Ellen Terry 9. . .Richard III 10 . . Samuel Beckett ----------------------------------------------------------------- Chart supplied by the National Portrait Gallery (071-306 0055) -----------------------------------------------------------------

Why kiss 'n tell hurts women most: Bienvenida Perez-Blanco has reaped thousands for the story of her affair, but she has sold something beyond price, says Rosalind Miles

It's like the bodies in Gloucester, a friend said yesterday of the fall of Sir Peter Harding, the Chief of the Defence Staff. 'There have been so many of these sex scandals, I've lost count.'

BOOK REVIEW / Lust in the post: 'Intimate Letters' - ed Robin Hamilton & Nicolas Soames: Marginalia Press 12.99 pounds / 7.99 pounds; 'Letter Writing' - Nigel Rees: Bloomsbury, 14.99 pounds

THESE two books may never have sequels. The pen is not mightier than the phone call or electronic mail. 'Letter' could become a forgotten term, not just in books but in films and songs: E-Mail to Brezhnev, for example, or 'I'm gonna sit right down and fax myself a memo.'

ROCK / You can call him Reverend Al

THE CONQUERING hero at the head of the Capital Radio Jazz Parade, Al Green, makes the best entrance I have ever seen. The Royal Festival Hall MC bids us welcome 'a genius'. A man, demonstrably not Al, scuttles across the stage with a briefcase, possibly containing the great man's sandwiches. Backing singers, horn players, drummer, bass and guitar men and doughty female church organist Ambric Bridgeforth follow, and at last He erupts into our presence. Overcome with the abundance of his own ego, Al sashays a shiny-shoe shuffle, waves a little white hankie over his head and distributes red roses to adoring scions. The auditorium bathes in the light of his sequinned lapels.

Maverick Tory goes his own way: Former minister retains active role in transport workers' union

PETER BOTTOMLEY is probably the only Tory MP to be a member of Neil Kinnock's union, the Transport and General Workers' Union. Although he has not paid the political levy, Mr Bottomley attended a recent meeting on Labour-union links and was asked by the branch chairman whether he wanted to become an MP.

TELEVISION / Sex, beasts and Jilly Cooper

Performance of the week came from The Bat that Cracked the Frog Code (BBC1, Wildlife 100). The Trachops is a gerbil using a broken brolly as a hang-glider, which flies fast and low to nab its prey, the Panamanian frog. Nature gave the bat an echolocation device so acute it doesn't just know where to find supper, it has a fair idea if there'll be seconds. She forgot to tell the frog that if it croaked it would, er, croak. Astonishing nocturnal photography revealed that the frog is especially vulnerable during mating when, in mounting excitement, it croaks louder. Witnessing one frog's moment of release, it was just possible to make out what he was thinking: 'Guess who's coming, I'm dinner.' Never was coitus so cruelly interruptus.

BOOK REVIEW / Royal marriages in trouble: 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII' - Antonia Fraser: Weidenfeld, 20 pounds

HENRY VIII's marital adventures have been discussed often enough, and Lady Antonia Fraser does not really say anything new. However, she has tried to look upon the events and the people involved from the point of view of the women in the story, an angle of vision which merits respect.
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