Words: gormless, adj.

DISCRETION VEILS the occasion when an utterance was deemed gormless but, at the same time, there came to mind puzzlement about the gorm that is apparently lacking.

Virgin Mary's `diary' attacked

THE REV David Wilbourne seemed to anticipate a panning for his colourfully modern story of the Virgin Mary. He secured the backing of heavyweights including the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Liverpool before writing A Virgin's Diary - a mix of the New Testament and Bridget Jones - which is due to be published next month.

Words: spinster, n.

THE Brighton Evening Argus described a murdered woman in Worthing as a spinster. It must use the Collins dictionary, which lets it pass without warning. The Concise Oxford calls it "chiefly derogatory" and Encarta an "offensive term".

Words: salt, adj.

THE GOVERNMENT decree on salt could be more subtle. If palate were on the national curriculum, more would abandon the magnesium-tainted stuff and crumble varieties of sea salt.

Comment: Roll on the new role models

Everywhere you looked there were beautiful women with glacial smiles and guns

Book review: Frissons, foursomes and falling in love

A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank Viking pounds 9.99

Diary of a taciturn novelist

THE JOURNALS OF GEORGE ELIOT EDITED BY MARGARET HARRIS AND JUDITH JOHNSTON CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, pounds 55
A striking wooden sculpture of the central figure in a local story of the 17th century - marriage to Meg was offered as an alternative to the gallows for Willie Scott who had attempted to steal cattle.

Scotland's ugliest woman honoured

She was the Bridget Jones of her day. Desperate to wed, Muckle Mou'd Meg, heroine of a famous Scottish ballad, could find no takers.

Welcome to the locker room

TONY PARSONS asked some (male) friends around for a chat about - you guessed it - women. Are you ready for The Truth?

Books: All hail a new literary genre! And guess what, it's strangely familiar

White City Blue by Tim Lott Viking pounds 15.99

BOOKS: BEST-SELLERS CHARTS

Hardbacks

Q: Do you have `Bridget Jones's Diary'? A: No. Can you come back in six months?

MODERN AND popular fiction has borne the brunt of budget cuts to book funds for public libraries, a survey by The Independent has revealed.

Books: Fear and loathing from Newmarket to Las Vegas

Twelve Grand by Jonathan Rendall Yellow Jersey Press, pounds 10, 250pp; Is it a novel? Is it a memoir? Laura Thompson hedges her bets but appreciates some good value from this wayward punter's odyssey

Poor Di - vanquished again by a remorseless Camilla

YESTERDAY I brought you the results of my research into the favourite boys' names of 1998 (based on the frequency of their appearance in the year's news headlines), and today we come to the most popular girls' names for the same period.

Letter: Men as scapegoats

Sir: So, premature spinsterhood afflicts women east of Berlin too, does it? ("Bridget Jones goes to Budapest", 24 November). Having Adam LeBor relay the news doesn't make the analysis any less facile. Once again, men are the problem sex, their fragile egos threatened by independent- minded women. But at least it diverts Bridget's attention from her own inadequacies.
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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker