Arifa Akbar: Some fictional characters are gay. Get over it

I was waiting for the Australian author, Christos Tsiolkas to begin his first UK event this week and, as the audience filed in from the drizzle, I noticed a particular absence in the room. That of women. It was just me until – phew – three others slunk in. Tsiolkas's reading at a Bloomsbury basement bar had been organised by the bookshop Gay's the Word, so the clue was in the title, but I was thrown at first, to be among an audience with shared affinities that reared themselves – fascinatingly – during the discussion.

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Autumn Statement 2013: At a glance

Key points from the Autumn Statement:  


* Petrol tax rise of 2p a litre planned for next year is cancelled.

* Rolling back green levies takes an average £50 off energy bills.

* Financial resources provided to fund expansion of free school meals to all school children in reception, year one and year two.

* New priority right to move for social tenants who need to relocate for a job.

* New loans worth £1 billion to unblock housing developments including in Manchester and Leeds.

* Plans to increase train fares by 1% above inflation from January cancelled, so they go up in line with inflation.