Arts and Entertainment

The Australian author of this lively collection of essays about language is an amiable guide to his subject. "Amiable" is, however, a stiff adjective to use when describing Julian Burnside, QC, who praises HW Fowler, author of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), and Samuel Johnson for allowing their personalities to colour their writings about words. He mocks philologists for their dryness, dismisses "cherished superstitions" that remain popular with conservative querulists and describes an attempt to ban the use of "mate" from the Australian parliament in appropriately matey style.

Film: It should have been a contender

The Big Picture

Friday Book: A radical churchman with a relevant message

Radical Churchman Edward Lee Hicks and the New Liberalism by Graham Neville (Clarendon Press, Oxford, pounds 50)

Parliament: The Sketch - Widdecombe's blue touchpaper is lit, everyone stands back...

HOME OFFICE questions began with fireworks - not the metaphorical kind, since the session as a whole was something of a damp squib, but the real sort, which had led Bill O'Brien, Labour MP for Normanton, to ask an anxious question about firework-related incidents. "I'm not anti- firework ..." he began, a large part of his anxiety clearly directed at the danger of sounding like a puritanical killjoy.

Tuesday Book: Yes, but what are the Liberals for?

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Liberalism by Conrad Russell (Duckworth, pounds 12.95)

Right of Reply: James Ferman

The former director of the British Board of Film Classification replies to a recent article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown headlined `Sex, politics and censorship'

Republicans try to halt defection by Buchanan

THE REPUBLICAN leadership is to hold an urgent meeting with Pat Buchanan, one of the party's better-known presidential hopefuls, to try to convince him not to defect to the Reform Party.

Set less homework, schools are told

TOO MUCH homework and too little after-school fun are bad for children, headteachers said yesterday.

Liberal Democrats have a noble tradition, but it needs redefining

The party will be on a hiding to nothing if it seeks to occupy territory Labour abandoned a decade ago

MPs plot to oust Blair loyalist

CRITICISM OF Tony Blair's leadership of the Labour Party grew yesterday when rebel MPs drew up plans to oust the chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP).

Why must we hurt them?

A belief in equality does not give anyone the right to smash up their children's lives

Obituary: Jim Rose

JIM ROSE was a man of dazzling and diverse gifts - a member of the legendary Bletchley Park intelligence team in the Second World War, a journalist of distinction, creator single-handedly of an internationally influential institute dedicated to the development of freedom of the press, director and co-ordinator of a massive six-year survey of race relations in Britain, and joint founder of an institute to educate young people whom he nurtured to fulfil their promise.

Worrying about drugs while the house burns

The railway service between Swansea and Llanelli is not what it used to be. So just over two years ago, covering the general election for this paper, I found myself in a taxi travelling to the latter town, which is (or used to be) famous for tinplate and rugby. Beside the road was the blackened shell of a detached house which, in that part of the world, would be occupied by a headmaster or a bank manager.

Leading Article: Where to turn?

THE PARTY's still for turning. Peter Lilley's discovery last week that there are limits to what the free market can do - a discovery apparently endorsed by William Hague - has infuriated the heresy-hunters of the Tory right , but then the "Tory rebels", to use the media's flattering description of them, have been smashing the china ever since Margaret Thatcher was deposed in 1990. At the last election they proved the truth of H L Mencken's dictum that logic is the last refuge of the fool. Seeing that Blair was ahead in the polls, and noting that he had moved his party to the right, the rebels - the most powerful group in the party, with most of the press at their disposal - concluded that the only way to beat Labour was by moving to the right. QED. What they overlooked was that Labour had moved to the right from the left, and had thus moved to the centre, where the Volvo voters live; whereas any rightward move by the Tories could only take them further from the centre, and the voters, and closer to Bedlam. In the event, and against John Major's better judgment, they chose to move closer to Bedlam. The rest is history, or perhaps geography.

Letter: Voice of reason

THANK YOU so much for the ever-civilised, delightful Michael Bywater. I laughed like a drain at his column "Going, going, gone" (Review, 18 April), as he took our so-called "leaders" vigorously to task.

SNP is `hiding its separatist goal'

THE SCOTTISH National Party was yesterday accused of hiding its central aim of independence in an attempt to mislead voters in next month's elections to the Scottish Parliament.
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...