Arts and Entertainment

From 18th-century caricaturists to Desperate Dan, the art of talking in picture-form has a long and (mostly) distinguished history

Opinions: What's the most exciting thing you've ever found?

JOHN PEEL, DJ: Somebody asked me if I would be interested in 170 Kenyan singles. I bought them unheard but it turned out to be a wonderful investment. They are stupendous. I've only heard about 10 of them because I don't want to spoil it by listening to them all at once. It's like getting a nice case of wine - you feel you ought to stretch it out.

BOOK REVIEW / Friendly bombs: John Betjeman's letters reveal the rich array of his interests; high camp, dim peers, lifelong friendships, pastiche, laughter and disguises

'OBSCURITY' was John Betjeman's nickname for his friend H de Cronin Hastings, a man so shy that he once gave a lecture with his back to the audience. It was a sobriquet that might more justly have been applied to Betjeman himself, who wasn't especially shy, but who was drawn instinctively to anything obscure - be it a poet, an architect, an Irish peer or a 19th-century religious sect. The only letter preserved here from his years at Marlborough College is to a descendant of the poet Charles Dibdin, requesting information about the work of Charles's even less well-known son Charles Isaac Mungo Dibdin, and ending with a query about Dibdin's junior novel Isn't It Odd? It seems a pertinent title.

Letter: Seeds of friendship

Sir: Reading about the proposed royal visit to Russia (17 February), I was immediately reminded of the plant collection from Kew sent to the Empress Catherine II in 1795 by George III.

Curator's Choice: The Stained Glass Museum

My chosen piece is a panel of George III which we have only just acquired. The original painting was by Joshua Reynolds and was copied onto glass by James Pearson in 1793. It was found fairly recently in Windsor, out of its leads, and in a rather collapsed state.

LEADERS OF THE PACK / Previous Winners

Film of the Year: 1991 Edward Scissorhands; 1992 The Double Life of Veronique.

Gone for a song, you sucker: Arrests at a London auction house have made sellers nervous, but it is outside the capital that trickery is commonplace, says John Windsor

RECENT arrests at a London auction house in connection with an investigation into alleged thefts may or may not result in charges. But the episode has caused a shudder among sellers at auction.

Obituary: Professor Claude Rimington

Claude Rimington, biochemist: born London 17 November 1902; born London 1902; Professor of Chemical Pathology, University College Hospital Medical School, London 1945-67 (Emeritus); FRS 1954; married 1929 Soffi Andersen (one daughter); died Askeroy, Norway 8 August 1993.

MUSIC / Didgeridooing it their way: Nicholas Williams investigates the Corroboree, a celebration of Aboriginal customs and identity

George III played the flute. Benjamin Franklin was a virtuoso on the musical glasses. Yet their delight in these instruments can have been as nothing compared with the pleasures to be had from the didgeridoo. That, at least, might be the opinion of Richard Walley, leading ambassador for this little understood manifestation of Australian culture. He's in London for July and August, taking a key part in the South Bank's celebration of the sights and sounds of the first Australians - Corroboree. This week he's been giving pensioners a flavour of Aboriginal customs and lifestyles; earlier today, with his performance ensemble WILGI, he gave the second of two workshops on didgeridoo and native percussion. For the next seven days WILGI be rehearsing hard for the high point of his visit on 8 August: the premiere of a South Bank commission Kungya Warnghing (Spirit Speaking) for 'didj' and Django Bates's jazz ensemble, Human Chain.

Obituary: The Marquess of Bute

LORD BUTE was, as Tam Dalyell implies (obituary, 22 July), a man of many parts, writes Francis Russell. The visionary and the practical were perfectly balanced in his personality, and the range of his sympathies and understanding was prodigious. What he achieved for the arts in Scotland in recent decades can only be compared with the contribution a generation earlier of the late Lord Crawford, whom he so greatly admired.

The Bluffer's Briefing: Yorkshire

What's a Riding? A division into three administrative districts, from the Old Norse thrith, a third.

Fishing Lines: Hooked and gift trapped

AS YOU read this, I shall be recuperating from a marriage made in heaven (not mine, I hasten to add). But fine though the wedding of Jonathan Young, editor of the Field, to his deputy editor, Caroline Bankes, will undoubtedly be, it is not the celebrations from which I shall be recovering. It is the agony of selecting a gift for a couple who may not have everything, but will have little difficulty acquiring the few missing items.

Letter: One man's hero is another man's racist oppressor

IT IS worth reminding Captain Moonlight ('The man who put the botany in Botany Bay', 23 May) of some facts about his 'hero' Joseph Banks. This 'jack-the-lad' left his fiancee, Harriet Blosset, behind him when he went to Australia and rejected her when he returned. When he stopped off in Rio, he went ashore illegally to steal plants. He took two black servants with him on the voyage and let them freeze to death in Tierra del Fuego.

BOOK REVIEW / Out of mind, out of sight: 'The Most Solitary of Afflictions: Madness and Society in Britain, 1700-1900' - Andrew Scull: Yale, 29.95 pounds

THIS superbly written, meticulously researched study is a horror story. Society's attitude to and treatment of the insane changed considerably during the 200 years covered by Andrew Scull. But although manacles and whips were eventually abolished, the 19th-century asylum created problems with which our society is still struggling.

Devils that private prisons may release

AT University College London, the great 'radical reformer and philanthropist' Jeremy Bentham is preserved: a sinister 'auto-icon' (as he called it), dressed in his own clothes, with features of wax and holding his favourite walking stick. It recalls the tomb of Lenin.

Canalettos go on show at Palace: Masterpieces that escaped the Windsor Castle fire are to be exhibited. Dalya Alberge reports

CANALETTO masterpieces that narrowly escaped the fire at Windsor Castle last November go on show tomorrow in the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace.
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Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album