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Early years in Liverpool gave him the perfect voice for John Lennon in the animated ‘Yellow Submarine’ film

Noël Coward: In His Own Words, Compiled by Barry Day

In his introduction to this slim volume, editor Barry Day tries to argue the case for Coward as a weighty thinker, deeper and more profoundly political than his lightning one-liners have led us to believe. Wit, Coward said, should be "a glorious treat like caviar", not "spread about like marmalade".

Brian Viner: Let me tell you about Mr Barker

Country Life: 'A man of enormous charisma, kindness and rectitude, Mr Barker was pivotal in the life of the school'

In the Bath, By Tim Fitzhigham

What can you say about a man who sets to sea in a bath? Being unkind, it's the sort of comic caper that suggests an imminent rendezvous with Jeremy Clarkson; a grandiose lunge at absurdity that's actually monstrously dull. Fortunately, while Tim Fitzhigham may be halfway to Clarkson via a Richard Hammond quote on his book's jacket, the story of how he spent two summers trying to be the first person to row the English Channel in a bath is actually rather absorbing.

Paperbacks: Bambi Vs Godzilla, by David Mamet

This master class on the movie business will undoubtedly be avidly read in the Hollywood Hills. It is equally certain, however, that Mamet's views will be utterly ignored. His admirable view, "If you think you should cut, cut", runs counter to the sprawling epics of tedium that currently dominate mainstream cinema.

Humphrey Lyttelton: A Celebration, Radio 4<br />Composer of the Week, Radio 3

No Humph, no 'ISIHAC'. But who's next?

You write the reviews: Noel Coward's Brief Encounter, Cineworld Haymarket, London

The wondrous thing about the new version of Brief Encounter by Kneehigh Theatre, now playing in a cinema (converted into a theatre) in London's Haymarket, is the way the director, Emma Rice, has taken the main themes from Noël Coward's play Still Life and David Lean's classic film version and added her own statement about the times in which the original drama surfaced, without imperilling the original structure.

Hedda Gabler, Barbican, London<br />The Vortex, Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue, London<br />Artefacts, Bush, London

Three hysterical women and tragic fate &ndash; but it's not all doom and gloom

Paperback: New Faber Book of Love Poems. Ed. James Fenton

Did your Valentine disappoint? Fenton's dashing and original anthology of a "half millennium of song" – Thomas Wyatt to Wendy Cope – will not. Still, like all the hottest dates, it has decided preferences. Same-sex love gets a gentle boost, as do the peaks of pop culture (nine pages of Noël Coward!). DH Lawrence rubs against "Lesbian Blues Lyrics of the 1920s". From Donne and Burns to Hardy and Yeats, it rounds up lots of old romantic favourites, too.

101 Star Bars: Farquhar's Bar

Singapore has Raffle's; Bangkok has the Hilton; Penang, less famously, has the Eastern & Orient hotel, which deserves to star in a film or a book as much as any of them. Built in the days of the East India Company, the grand hotel is a masterpiece of colonial mix and match. Its original owners were the Armenian Sarkies brothers. Its bar is named after an Aberdonian Colonel. It serves "English Pub Grub" and its own take on the Singapore Sling, but it will also do you a bowl of the world's best seafood soup to eat on the blindingly sunny verandah overlooking the Strait of Malacca. You end up not knowing which country you are in – but wanting never to have to leave it.

What's inspiring the Noël Coward renaissance?

After falling out of fashion, No&euml;l Coward's work is reaching a whole new set of admirers. By Ciar Byrne

Putting class into the Xmas playlist

Anna Picard tells us how to avoid the Christmas schmaltz this winter

Leading article: Status symbol

Insurance? Don't get your fingers burnt

'He smoked all the cigars and then claimed for them on the grounds they had been destroyed by fire'
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The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss