John Walsh on Monday: Land of knickers on the never-never

IN A CORNER of the glass case, a mouse is washing its paws. Its pink tongue dips and flickers across miniature wrists and bonsai arms, while its pink nose burrows in its snow-white, three-day-old baby fur - a sight to charm the hardest heart - as it crouches in a little rush nest, oblivious to everything else.

The divine Mr Hannon

How did the son of an Irish bishop, who went to Oscar Wilde's old school and says EM Forster changed his life, come to be the most exciting figure in pop? And what part did the A Team play?

Comment: Lessons from the fall of Europe's foodies

UNTIL THIS week Belgium had only two national institutions: the monarchy, and food. Like the national affection for the Royal Family, eating used to be the one activity that could make French and Dutch speakers set aside their interminable language feuds.

Street Life: Horror that lurked in my dream kitchen

SAMOTECHNY LANE

Dance: Stuck in a pointless groove

ULTIMA VEZ

Racing: Case is clear for Fantastic Light

PUNTERS' GUIDE: HYPERION'S TV TIPS

Music: The perfect Handel for the new Britain

Semele Coliseum, London Idomeneo Barbican, London Felicity Lott Wigmore Hall, London

Country & Garden: In Flanders fields the poppies grew ...

Wild flowers may be a farmer's nightmare but they are a gardener's dream, because they'll grow almost anywhere.

Ghent's bad news for Charles V

AS THE leading light of Belgium's latest, and strangest, civic protest, "The Lion" prefers not to give his real name or telephone number, and can only be contacted through an intermediary. But despite the uncompromising nature of his threats, their target is unlikely to fear for his safety, or to complain to the police.

The week in radio: Creativity, thy name is Woman

Voluspa R4 Bleak House R4 Enoch Arden R4 Gaia R4 For One Horrible Moment R4 Susan Jeffreys Says ... R2

The arts in 1999: Classical

The one thing we all know not to expect this year is anything from the Royal Opera, which will be sitting on pounds 16 million of public subsidy, thank you very much, and delivering virtually nothing in return. It's what you might call a swindle; and it dumps the burden of servicing London's operatic needs on the shoulders of ENO who have stepped into the breech with a genuinely enticing season of new shows. The Big One is Parsifal (February) with a not-so-thrilling cast, but the promise of the ever-curious Nickolaus Lehnhoff as director and Mark Elder to conduct. The Ian Judge production of Boito's Mephistopheles (from March) should be a grand theatrical event. So - if she meets the challenge of it - should be Phyllida Lloyd's staging of the extraordinary mass-execution scene at the end of Poulenc's The Carmelites, which opens in May. And one thing I can guarantee is the new Semele (from April), because this ultra-stylish show by Robert Carsen has already played Aix and Flanders and attracted glowing reviews. Not least on this page.

Fleming cements ties with Keswicks

News Analysis: Two of Britain's most powerful dynasties hope to revive an ailing bank

Books: Reviews

A Tall Man in a Low Land - Some Time Among the Belgians, Harry Pearson

Classical: Tributes to hope and the human spirit

BRITTEN, HOWELLS
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