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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

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In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
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Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering