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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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there