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:
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Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past