Arts and Entertainment

'One of its most notable contributors was in Broadmoor'

Say it with flowers: A new book revives the Victorian trend for bestowing meanings on our blooms

We may take our blooms as we see – or smell – them, but the Victorians devoted whole dictionaries to revealing their secret meanings.

The Blagger's Guide To...Samuel Johnson

Ten pages of quotes, but none about oranges

DJ Taylor: Class war, Chav-aliers and Roundheads

Generalisations about society no longer work, boundaries are blurred on morals too, and what about A C Grayling's hair?

Myspace is the thang, innit? Yes, if you want to win at Scrabble

Myspace, on a triple word score would bag you 98 points, perhaps even enough to win a game in a single turn, and, as of now, it is also legal.

Ian Hamilton Finlay, Victoria Miro Gallery, London

Poetry and philosophy are etched into the mind by the dour head gardener of the avant-garde

A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson, Dr Johnson's House, London

For this particular stop on its nation-wide tour, A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson – an evening of pure, civilised delight, directed by Max Stafford-Clark for his Out of Joint Company – becomes seriously site-specific. The audience is seated up in the attic of the beautiful Georgian house in Gough Square (off Fleet Street) where the great man of letters lived while compiling his monumental Dictionary.

The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel, By David Levithan<br />Kama Sutra, By Vatsyayana, trans. AND Haksar<br />The Art of Love by Ovid, trans. Tom Payne

Last week I chaired an event at the French Institute during which Alain de Botton talked, with all his graceful erudition, about Stendhal's treatise On Love. For de Botton, that hopeless old romantic's wander through passion's rare peaks and frequent troughs adds up to a sort of autobiographical novel rather than a systematic theory of desire and disappointment. Lytton Strachey, he reminded us, thought that Stendhal combined the emotionalism of a 12-year-old girl with the rigour of a high-court judge. It's the quasi-legalistic side of his approach to amour that sometimes comes to the fore in the arch recipes and formulae of On Love.

The Dictionary of Media and Communications, By Daniel Chandler &amp; Rod Munday

This book is a useful corrective to the assumption that media studies is an easy option. The entry on "relevance theory" informs us it is "a theory of pragmatics based on the principle... it is a necessary condition for communication that all utterances are presumed to be related to contextual assumptions."

Internet social sites 'encourage wrong spelling'

Internet chatrooms and social networking sites are encouraging children to spell words incorrectly, new research suggests.

My Afternoons With Margueritte (15)

Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus

Could you make an eight-letter word out of F I D E T C A S H?

This year's 'Countdown' star did &ndash; and gave the show a conundrum

'Obeisant' spells Scrabble triumph for transsexual

Casual players of Scrabble, take heart. Even in yesterday’s final of the national championships, the two opponents were unafraid to adorn the board with words more usually suited to the playground.

Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins, Edited by Julia Cresswell

The words we use everyday are so familiar that they almost seem natural phenomena like grass and rocks. Of course, they were man-made. Packed with pithy explanations of their often distant and unlikely origins, this book is as engrossing (from the Latin grossus meaning large, which also gave us grocer, originally someone who sold things in large quantities) as it is enlightening. Take sabotage. It sounds vaguely French, especially in the personalised form of saboteur, but did you know that it derives from sabot, French for clog? It comes from the destruction of machinery by clog-wearing workers in the 19th century.

Book Of A Lifetime: Oxford English Dictionary

I wonder if I could cheat and go for a genre rather than an individual book? Maybe the literary editor will be too busy to notice. It has to be a dictionary: any dictionary. From as early as I can remember, I've been fascinated by dictionaries. All those senses. All those words. And in alpha order too. Oh, the holy joy of it! [Ed: I've noticed.]

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?