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.

David Cameron: Conservatism is about seeking the common ground

From a speech given at the Centre for Policy Studies in London, by the Conservative MP

Staying Afloat: `The movie turns out to be an all-singin', all- dancin' celebration of sexism and racism'

WE ARE wedged, Simpsons-style, on the sofa, for the inaugural run of our new DVD player. The replacement of our knackered video with this shiny new piece of kit is welcomed by the children as a hopeful sign that we, as a household, are entering the age of new technology ("I expect we'll be getting a PlayStation soon," says Con, encouragingly.)

There really isn't any harm in causing offence - just ask Mel Brooks

You cannot be a champion of free speech when you like what's being spoken and a gagger of it when you don't

Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Crosby, Stills & Nash, Fleet Pavilion, Boston, USA

Rolling back the years

Carmen, Coliseum, London

Letter: Ladies at the Garrick

Sir: Mo Mowlam's defiant publicity stunt of eating at the Garrick Club in order to give comfort to its proprietors will not only have offended women ("New Labour ladies lunch at a bastion of male chauvinism", 17 December). Many men are equally repelled by such survivals of Old Misogyny. Of course there is a libertarian issue here - the dismal old buffers must be allowed to pursue their fetishes in private - but there is no need for the rest of us, male or female, to feel compelled to endorse it. Will the next "New Labour" visit be to a whites-only drinking club?

Venezuela votes on president's reforms

HUGO CHAVEZ, the Venezuelan President, triumphed at the polls and secured his position for up to 12 more years when the nation approved his new constitution, with 71.2 per cent voting in favour of his reforms.

More liberal with promises than in policy

Like writers, governments tend to be remembered for few achievements - and not always those for which they thought they would be remembered. John Major promised little and delivered less: the National Lottery. Margaret Thatcher tamed the trade unions and inaugurated privatisation, which came about largely by accident. Harold Wilson promised a technological revolution that never happened but gave us the Open University instead.

Black Panthers and Zapatistas pool guerrilla tips in jungle convention

GUERRILLA GROUPS from across America will today descend on an Amazonian jungle town to swap tips on winning the revolutionary struggle.

World revolutionaries gather for their summit

GUERRILLA GROUPS from across the Americas will today descend on an Amazonian jungle town to swap tips on winning the revolutionary struggle. Left-wing terrorist groups are to join with street demonstrators fresh from battle in Seattle, in a corporate- style convention to discuss the path to power.

Hot gospel of a brand missionary

Roger Trapp talks to the `born again' businessman who came back from Death

Why sexual passion is failing us between the covers

`Passion requires time, energy and, perhaps, a secluded life in a Yorkshire parsonage'
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Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food and drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
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A Siberian Tiger
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Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
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Ross Burden pictured in 2002
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Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
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Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried