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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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Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable