Student

From essay deadlines to heating bills, is it really the most wonderful time of the year?

The girl is almost bad

JAZZ Shola Ama Jazz Cafe, London

POP: Celine Dion; Wembley Arena, London

Celine Dion is doing her Barbra Streisand thang, chatting with the piano player between numbers and interacting with the audience, because "it's not my show, it's our show. So, did you know that I was raised in French culture?" Yes. "Did you know that I am the last of 14 children?" Yes. "Well, I bet you didn't know that I..." - I'm gay? I'm anorexic? I have both male and female sex organs? - "...that I started singing from the age of four?" Oh. That. Yes, we knew.

TOP TEN ALBUMS AND SINGLES

Crowded House? They really should get out more... While the retiring Australasians may be a little claustrophobic for some, there are enough lovers of melody-driven (drivel?) pop lite to get the band's best-of compilation to the top album slot in its first week of release. Crowded House (right) called it quits last month, so there'll be plenty of time to watch the walls.

Live Pop: Mariah Carey Wembley Arena London

On one side of London last weekend, the Sex Pistols were indulging their egos with a ridiculous side-show of bloated excess. But compared to Mariah Carey, who was performing in another part of town, barely able to last out a song without changing her costume or telling us how happy she was to be in England, the Pistols were a picture of minimalism and restraint.

How our little boy lost found his way

Nick Knight, the England opener, describes the build-up to the First Test and the pain that followed pleasure

talk talk

"When I watch TV and see those poor, starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean, I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff."

And now in glorious multimedia

Forget plain old audio; the latest development is the enhanced CD, says Steve Homer

CLUBS / Mix blessings: David Morales began by messing around with records in his bedroom. Now he mixes it with the best, as he tells James Style

David Morales is the king. Right now he's top of the pile.' So says Jim Masters, director of the Ministry of Sound. He should know: in three years the Ministry has established itself as the most important nightclub in Europe.

MUSIC / The making of a UK soul diva: Dina Carroll is British, but that hasn't stopped her from becoming a double-platinum soul sensation. Interview by Sabine Durrant

These days, when Dina Carroll arrives back in London, after promoting her album in Japan, say, or the USA, there's a limo to meet her at the airport. She's still getting over it.

Precious objects that memories are made of

LITTLE by little, since my father died, we have sorted through his possessions and bequests. What principally astonishes me is how familiar and durable most of them are. Take the 'temper tester', a Victorian parlour joke. It was a glass phial that you held until the liquid inside it rose to the top and bubbled. The faster it rose the more bad-tempered you were supposed to be. This amused my sister and me 40-odd years ago; my own children 20 years ago; and most recently, my grandchildren. How did such a fragile object survive? Presumably because it was always put back carefully into a glass-fronted cupboard that was then locked, thus adding to its mystique.

THEATRE / Get Hur - Drill Hall, London WC1

Gladrags and bad gags are the name of the game in Bloolips' dragged up version of Ben Hur. Setting up Roman camp, these Queens of the Nile refuse to pay even lip(stick?) service to the butch original. In their interpretation, the Emperor Hadrian is triumphantly outed when he engages Daphne, a sybil, to investigate the death of his lover Antinous, the slave with the luminous buttocks. It's rickety stuff: Ray Dobbins's script all but dispenses with plot in its eagerness to showcase the cast's whoops- ducky campery, though the action is punctuated by some gloriously contrived songs ('We're cleaners of Caesar's/We pick things up with tweezers . . .'). But even the growing suspicion that the cast are playing merely magnified versions of themselves doesn't quite stifle the snorts of laughter that their outrageous milking of jokes ('Do you always work in shifts?' 'Yes, I find them more comfortable') inspires. The glam star of the show, Bette Bourne, is weak and downbeat as the Swanson-esque Hadrian: his limelight is thoroughly stolen by Precious Pearl's ever- so-precious Antinous, and by Gretal Feather and Ivan in a series of camp cameos as randy servants and supporters of the great god Sandy. Sophisticated this isn't, but the cast do present the material with a winning if superficial polish. Laugh, ducky? I almost smudged my mascara.
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