Arts and Entertainment

Mohammed Ali  used to boast that when boxing,  he would float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. So it is with Germiane Greer. She writes lightly, gracefully even when agitating for a cause. But the words still sting. And unsettle. Here she consciously creates a quasi-religious epic out of a part of her remarkable life when she decided to restore a small, wrecked rainforest in Australia, her homeland. The tone is apocalyptic, themes existential and critical: (wo)man not against, but ardently for wondrous, pitiless and predatory nature. She, the Lionheart, is awed, meets devastation, fears cataclysms, intuits prophecies, bears historical and biological guilt,  seeks redemption and takes stupendous, fervent  action. It really is some story.

Crocodile found in London park

Crocodile found in London park

Cries & Whispers

ON MONDAY, I spent 40 minutes watching the video of summer blockbuster trailers that comes with this month's Empire magazine. Look, it was the Bank Holiday, and - what can I tell you? - I've always been a trailer fan. Handing over pounds 9 to peer at a screen not much larger than my TV probably has something to do with it, but up until now I've always felt cheated if I didn't get into the cinema auditorium as soon as the doors opened. Never mind the 20 minutes of irritations that awaited me: moving to let "latecomers" take their seats, enduring commercials I'd seen far too many times already. (Does anyone else scream when they hear the words "Reef Radio"? And who are those people who go to the cinema so rarely that they still laugh at the punchline, "Say bollocks to it, and enjoy the sunshine while you still can"?) The trailers made it all worthwhile. I could never tuck into the main course of the Feature Presentation without the hors d'oeuvres of the Coming Attractions.

Rebecca, queen of the desert

John Walsh is overwhelmed by Rebecca Hossack, Queen Bee of Antipodean arts in London

Books: Independent choice - Parenting manuals

First-time mothers-to-be are suckers when it comes to baby lit. They'll read anything, from the small print in the Boots Mother and Baby catalogue to the picture captions in Miriam Stoppard. But it does seem a little cruel to rip them out of this soft-focused world and point them in the direction of Kate Figes's terrific new book Life After Birth, What Even Your Friends Won't Tell You (Viking, pounds 12.99). For all our upfront talk about episiotomies and Kegel exercises, argues Figes, women in the Nineties are reticent when it comes to acknowledging the long-term physical and emotional consequences of giving birth. Women may no longer die in childbirth, but very few are back to work or having sex by the time of their six-week checkup.

Something has survived...

Why has the Komodo Dragon died out on one Indonesian island but not another? By Sheila Large

Mouse can help us grow body parts

A CHANCE discovery has shown that mammals, including human beings, have the potential to regrow large portions of destroyed tissue. One day it may even be possible to regrow severed digits and limbs, thanks to a mutant mouse that can repair its pierced ears.

The lights go out on the loneliest profession

A handful of men have spent their final Christmas guarding the beacons that guide seafarers through Britain's turbulent waters. In the New Year, the few lighthouses that remain manned will be automated. Kathy Marks reports on the end of a centuries-old tradition.

The window dresser's winter wonderland

People in fashion: The Selfridges Christmas windows amount to minor works of art - especially when you consider they are a year in the making. Hester Lacey met presiding genius Paul Chambers

Bunhill: Melts in the mouth, not in the courtroom

You might have thought that Cadbury had taken surrealism as far as it could go in the 1980s with its infamous "Flake" adverts, which for some reason featured shots of an iguana slithering across a telephone while an enticing-looking woman simulated fellatio (with the flake, not the lizard). But how mundane all that seems now following the company's bizarre recent reversals at the hands of m'learned friends.

Dinosaurs may show true colours

NATURAL HISTORY

Long in the tooth

The Lost World: Jurassic Park Steven Spielberg (PG)

EVOLUTION: Study of lizards proves Darwin was right

Scientists believe they have proved Charles Darwin was right by setting lizards on different evolutionary paths and watching the results. Darwin argued in The Origin of the Species that when organisms colonise a new territory they adapt to its conditions and eventually evolve into a new species.

Snake legs it straight out of Eden

Michelangelo seems to have got it at least partly right, when in the Sistine Chapel he depicted the snake in the Garden of Eden as having arms.

Royle's historic charge

Joe Royle has been disciplined by the Football Association for calling the referee David Elleray a pterodactyl. The prehistoric reference landed the Everton manager a disrepute charge at the FA yesterday, writes Alan Nixon.
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
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