Arts and Entertainment

The reciprocal half of Gabriel’s I’ll-cover-yours-if-you’ll-cover-mine project Scratch My Back, in which his correspondents respond to his proposition by covering PG songs in return - a round dozen of them, including “Biko”, “Shock the Monkey” and, ill-advisedly, “Don’t Give Up”.

Diary of a rejected sperm donor

When Simon Evans decided to do his bit for infertile couples, he thought it would be easy ...

Pop: Lou Reed Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Lou Reed made me laugh. It was about half-way through his set, during the flippant bar-room blues of "I Love You Suzanne". Relaxed and smiling, he began singing falsetto, alternating it with a parody of his usual deep rumble. It was funny. It was uncomfortable. It was not what you expect from the Dark Prince, the author of "Heroin" and a dozen other hymns to the low life.

the death of the grown-up

In the mixed-up Nineties, teenagers hallucinate to Hawkwind, dance music has its dinosaurs and John Peel is not the only old fogey who enjoys the febrile scratchings of the young. What's going on?

'I'd envisaged Bryan Ferry slaving over a sewing-machine to all hours'

DICKIE FANTASTIC ON THE SCHMOOZE

Anderson ex machina

Rock star appears in Birmingham beneath Mothership-lookalike. Boy, can she summon up hi-tech heaven

POP / Chris Maume on pop

Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, or Frank Black (below) as he prefers to be known, has always been a little strange. Like a character from David Byrne's True Stories, the former Pixie appears to inhabit a world where eccentricity is the modus vivendi, and outer space is just another shopping mall. In the record company biog he wrote for his most recent LP, Teenager of the Year, he laid out his preoccupations for inspection: 'I sang about the days of Martian terraformation, of 2016, and catapults along the Pacific equator. I sang about Telstar and when they put the billboards in orbit. I wondered why the truck drivers wouldn't talk to me, why the sci-fi channel took The Invaders off its latest rotation. And I declare all of you to look up and behold that pie in the sky.'

Computers: Lou Reed on Compuserve

Lou Reed, yes, the Lou Reed, will be accessible to anyone with a modem tonight. He will answer questions live and on-line on the Compuserve information network, between 8pm and 10pm EDT. In UK, that is between 1am and 3am on Saturday.

ROCK / The crowd goes bananas: Here we go again: Giles Smith met the members of the Velvet Underground and watched their first show for 25 years

At the end of the Velvet Underground's show in Edinburgh, after the encores ('Waiting for the Man' and 'Heroin'), the audience thunders its approval and the band, none of whom are wearing shades, gathers stage-centre. John Cale gives Lou Reed an awkward, one-armed hug. Sterling Morrison pats Maureen Tucker on the head. Everybody bows. They did it: an entire show without splitting up.

ROCK / Here's that thing all over again: If the Velvet Underground were not the best rock band of all, they may well have been the most influential. Now, 25 years later, they're back together, and rehearsing for their British debut. This is the story so far

WHEN THEY were around, which wasn't long, being a member of the Velvet Underground didn't exactly amount to a living. Sure, they had famous friends. Andy Warhol was their patron. Brian Epstein thought about managing them. Antonioni tried to get them for the nightclub sequence in Blow-Up. But as far as anyone outside a chunk of Manhattan from Times Square down to the Bowery was concerned, they didn't exist. They couldn't have filled a phone box.

TELEVISION / Studs and rockers

FEARFUL that some of us still hadn't realised that the title of Jilly Cooper's shagging-in-the-shires mini-series Riders (Sunday, ITV) was a double-entendre, the writers had caddish villain Rupert Campbell-Black (Marcus Gilbert) spell it out, by way of a voluptuous dance partner called Melody. 'My first pony was called Melody,' he tells her, 'She was a chestnut - a terrific ride.'

Arts: Under the covers: Hal Willner is neither a musician, nor a composer, but he's an original. He takes the work of his favourite songwriters and remakes it, using any combination of today's musicians, as long as it's unlikely. His new album is 'Weird Nightmare', a tribute to Charles Mingus. Making it was weird, at times nightmarish

A MICROPHONE dangles from the ceiling of the Mastersound recording studio in Queens, just over the East River from Manhattan. Leaning into it, somewhat tentatively, is a hefty figure, enveloped in a dark crumpled suit. As a spectral murmur of gongs, chimes and muted voices drifts from the speakers, he croons in a voice of ragged velvet:
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel Shop See all offers »
India and Nepal
14 nights from £2,159pp Find out more
Dutch Masters
five nights from £679pp Find out more
La Robla and Rioja
nine nights from £1599pp Find out more
Classical Spain
six nights from £539pp Find out more
California and the Golden West
14 nights from £1,599pp Find out more
Bruges
three nights from £259pp Find out more
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?