Arts and Entertainment

What goes on in our brains when we’re not thinking? Why do some animals lounge around all day doing nothing? Is outer space completely empty? Why did it take so long for the number zero to be accepted? These are just some of the questions discussed in this intriguing collection of essays on “nothingness” by science writers including Ian Stewart, Marcus Chown, Nigel Henbest, Michael Brooks, Paul Davies and David Fisher.

Letter: Pooh's tragedy

Sir: A A Milne? A carefree childhood? ("Now we are sick", 28 January.)

Theatre: Eye on the New

Yes, it's time for those traditional panto classics, Cinderella, Babes in the Wood, Oedipus... we're promised the biggest giggle since Theseus's father threw himself over a cliff. Looks set to be the only panto that's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

BOOK REVIEW / Stories mummy never taught me: 'During Mother's Absence' - Michele Roberts: Virago, 9.99 pounds

THIS IS a dark and witty book. And if to be political means that systems of order and power are interrogated and stood on their head, then it is a political book as well. But it is not a tract, and for good reason. Tract- writers and polemicists have every faith in argument, but little enough in the imagination. For Michele Roberts, imagination is the cutting tool she uses to rearrange perceptions of sexuality and pleasure, of customary relations and received values. As the nine stories in this collection unfold and then fold back into each other, a shifting array of meanings is laid out. How you look at them depends on who you are: there are, after all, political readers as well as political writers.

BOOK REVIEW / Bookshop Window: The widow's broom - Chris Van Allsburg: Andersen Press, pounds 8.99.

A wonderful fairy-tale, welcome after all the moral fables and slices of life, about a widow who suddenly acquires a witch's broom. The broom can sweep by itself, but also chop wood and play the piano; the widow knows it's a friend, but has to save it from the suspicions and violence of her neighbours. The pictures are exquisitely detailed and luminous, in shades of grey and sepia, as if done by moonlight.

MUSIC / Notices: The Snow Queen - Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

Beating the panto season with a Hans Christian Andersen story, Trinity's 'Unfamiliar Music Series' has lived up to its ahead-of-the-times reputation. You can't get less familiar than a new, full-length music-theatre piece, specially commissioned by Jane Manning. In Matthew King's score she shares the platform with instrumentalists from Jane's Minstrels and a schools chorus. Singers narrate; players sing duets with their instruments or suddenly leap on to the stage; the Snow Queen picks up her handbag and takes over at the piano. King switches deftly from Prokofiev to Mozart, Handel to Wagner, pastiche to parody, like a bright Hollywood composer with a sense of humour.
Latest stories from i100
Career Services

Day In a Page

A
Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created