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Alex Chinneck's artwork 'Upside Down House' ('Miner on the Moon') has been created as part of the annual Merge Festival in the Bankside area in London.

London walks: Row, row your boat gently up the Thames: Michael Leapman traces the race for Doggett's Coat and Badge from London Bridge to Chelsea

One of London's least-known annual events is the race for Doggett's Coat and Badge, to be held next Tuesday at 6.15pm. In 1716 the actor Thomas

Artefacts

New galleries proliferate. From May, the unlikely location of Eastleigh, Hampshire, will boast 'the largest commercial gallery in southern England'. Michael Gaca, director of the Beatrice Royal Art Gallery, is still looking for artists to fill his huge space, but has already divided art into 12 types. Most are self-explanatory (interiors, abstract), but it will be interesting to see what turns up in the room labelled 'Art of the Unexpected'. Any artist keen to exhibit should call 0703 610592.

BOOK REVIEW / Post-imperial distress signals: William Scammell reviews three know-it-all collections

MONOSYLLABIC, throwaway titles are currently de rigueur. Self-abasement is the order of the day, for we have grown very humble about our place in the cosmos, our crimes and misdemeanours. Jokes are OK, too, and puns, and a syntax that almost falls over itself to embrace prepositions rather than the imperialist swagger of verbs and nouns. The last thing a modern poet wants to do is to seem to presume. Yet this last-ditch knowingness - been there, touched dirt, got the guilt - is simply the obverse of those flag-waving certainties practised by the Cro- Magnons of two or three generations ago.

New Customs chief warns against free trade abuse: Colin Brown meets Valerie Strachan, the next chairman of Customs and Excise

VALERIE STRACHAN won a European woman of the year award for her work in bringing down the barriers to free trade on 1 January. But, as the chairman- elect of Customs and Excise, she is promising a crackdown on revellers who abuse the system.

Edinburgh Festival Day 20: Reviews: Shameless Extras

Over the last three years, Talking Tongues have won wide acclaim for their intense two-woman shows. Their subject has always been trust and vulnerability within a claustrophobic relationship. This year, writers David Farr and Rose Garnett have developed these concerns in an incisive dialogue underpinned with lying and deceit. Rachel Weisz and Sasha Hails perform with neat timing and precise characterisation, but the play's framework (a chance interview between two possible killers) is defused by a weak ending.

Edinburgh Festival Day 18: From Heaven Through the World To Hell

Teatr Provisorium presents a pacy dramatic collage, assembled from Goethe's Faust, Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, Thomas Mann's Faust, the Book of Job and other texts. It's like a tragic cabaret, illuminating its ghastly subject - the nature of evil - with dazzling and bitter wit. Janusz Oprynski's inventive direction is complemented by Jan Maria Kloczowski's propulsive score which drives the plot. Even the most baleful moments (such as a meditation on the death of Eurydice, taken from the poet Zbigniew Herbert) are performed with lugubrious irony by the Polish two-man cast. In spite of the weight of the subject and the seriousness of its treatment, it is impossible not to leave laughing. Richard Demarco Gallery, 17-21 Blackfriars Street (venue 22), 031-557 0707. 9.30pm. To 5 Sept.

THEATRE / Real Time: Edinburgh Festival Day 4

It is the eve of Yom Kippur, 1973, in Tel Aviv. A group of immigrants gather in Eva's Bar to celebrate the festival under the shadow of war. Interspersing dialogue with magical visual images, Tmu Na tell the stories of each of the displaced people. Under delicate lighting and through precise changes of mood, the audience is drawn into the characters and into the celebrations. There are moments when the story-telling loses pace, but the visual invention of directors Nava Zukerman and Yael Sagie never falters.
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