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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Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us