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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Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith