Life and Style Courgette (or zucchini) flowers

This week I've been eating... courgette flowers

RADIO : Culture? I'll drink to that

Too Late for the Party, R4/ Nightwaves, R3

Making fun - and a name: Politically divided but united cartographically, Fitzrovia is much in fashion. Rhys Williams takes a tour

The standard reponse to the word 'Fitzrovia' (as in 'I work/live/have my hair cut in') has been 'Where's that?' A fairly tortured explanation follows, involving something about an area tucked between Tottenham Court Road, Great Portland Street, Euston Road and Oxford Street.

BOOK REVIEW / A marmalade cat in Fitzrovia: Christina Hardyment on the irrepressible creator of Orlando - A slender reputation: Kathleen Hale - Frederick Warne pounds 12.99

KATHLEEN HALE'S 18 marvellous books about Orlando the Marmalade Cat could only have been created by somebody with an exceptional sense of humour and an extraordinary artistic talent. To spread wide any of their generously filled folio pages is to become mesmerised by the detail, wit, and grace of the drawings. Clearly, a large number of people were equally mesmerised by Hale herself, from the moment she arrived in London in 1917 after an art course at Reading University, 'with only a few shillings in my pocket, my pince-nez delicately chained to one ear, and no qualifications whatsoever for earning a living.'

Go East: More than a quarter

It's not quite Montparnasse - there are more caffs than cafes - but this is London's artists' quarter. Forget Cork Street. There's more of the real cutting edge of contemporary British art here, in a twenty square mile patch of the East End that's home to the studios of over 800 of our brightest young hopefuls. Not since Sickert, Fry and Epstein rubbed shoulders in Fitzrovia has the city seen such a concentration of creative talent. And once a year, from May to the end of June, artists from Greenwich to Stratford open their studio doors to all-comers. It's an unique chance to gain first-hand experience of what goes on in an artist's studio, to discover what's new and to spot work that just might be the 'next big thing'. Among the better-known names with studios in the East End are artists as diverse as Mark Wallinger, Anthony Whishaw, Laura Godfrey-Isaacs, Herve Constant and Cecilia Vargas.

Books: A significant eccentric: Michael Ayrton, painter, sculptor, illustrator, critic and clubbable landmark of 1950s Fitzrovia, is little known today. A new biography brings his difficult talent vividly to life: Michael Ayrton: A Biography by Justine Hopkins, Deutsch pounds 25

AT THE AGE OF 20 Michael Ayrton drove John Gielgud to distraction over his stage-sets for the 1942 Macbeth, by his 'savage resentment', his 'ungraciousness of manner and lack of charm and generosity towards the work people in every department'. Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies, playing Lady Macbeth, was more charitable: 'Don't go on 'being insufferable' longer than you can help. It's a sort of defence against something isn't it? But it only gets in your way.'

BOOK REVIEW / A city that beggars the imagination: The Faber Book of London - ed A N Wilson, pounds 17.50

I AM generally doubtful about anthologies. Who are they for? What are they supposed to do? Bits of this and that clustered around some contrived category (Saints, Villains, Chocolate - why not an anthology of anthologies?) are almost bound to dissatisfy anyone with a real interest in the subject and bore everyone else. Good for the loo, I suppose, but people I know who read in the loo generally require something more substantial - War and Peace at the very least.

Second Thoughts: Too close a call: D J Taylor recalls Real Life (Flamingo pounds 5.99) and the real trouble it caused

MY SECOND novel, Real Life, came out in hardback in the spring of last year. It got some respectable reviews, and a stinker in the Observer from a chap I vaguely remember from university (what is it about those chaps we vaguely remember from university? Why do they hate us so?) A dozen bad reviews would have been as nothing, though, compared to what happened on a bright morning in April - April Fool's Day, appropriately enough - about three weeks after publication, when the telephone rang.

Call for BT tower to reopen: London publicans want West End tourist attraction reinstated

'WE CAN'T just give in to terrorism,' Eugene O'Brien, landlord of the George and Dragon, said. He is one of more than 40 publicans in the West End of London campaigning for the British Telecom tower to reopen to the public in order to boost local businesses.

DANCE / Darling, simply too tired for words

THE FOUR men and two women who comprise Adventures in Motion Pictures are working too hard. The company's touring schedule is punitive and, because it has little trouble attracting funds, it has been duty- bound to create two new works a year. Under the strong artistic direction of Matthew Bourne, AMP is still touring with its zany version of The Nutcracker, and last week presented its latest work, The Percys of Fitzrovia. Remarkably, the dancers show no sign of flagging, but their vitality merely serves to prove the body is more durable than the choreographic flame, which is flickering.

DANCE / Terribly strange adventures: Stephanie Jordan reviews Matthew Bourne's Adventures in Motion Pictures at the Lyric Hammersmith

IT SEEMS strangely appropriate for Adventures in Motion Pictures to occupy the Lyric Hammersmith for their current London season, what with that theatre's considerable history of plays and revues. This history, indeed, supplies much of the source material for AMP: different genres of cabaret and theatre - Noel Coward, for instance - as well as the archetypal human material of social satire. Matthew Bourne's choreography comments slyly on this bygone world, using it to create his own, distinct language. Every move becomes part of a taut choreographic plan and he cleverly blurs the borderline between period- class affectation - fey gesturing and slouching - and naughty references to films, ballets or current events, all outside the premise of the piece.

THEATRE / Close to their art: Paul Taylor on Colquhoun and MacBride

THE TWO Ronnies we've all heard of, but mention of the Two Roberts (as they were called) is unlikely to ring many bells these days. Aiming to put that right, John Byrne's new play Colquhoun and MacBride takes us on a brisk tour of the rowdy, well-lubricated lives of these two Scottish painters, who met at the Glasgow School of Art and then went on to become partners (or even 'a single organism' as one critic purply put it) in love, art and assiduous alcohol abuse.
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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

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Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

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Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

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Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

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This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

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Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

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Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

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Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

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Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

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English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

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Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

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World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

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Why the league system no longer measures up

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