Day Out: Patrick Stewart

'I've been living in Los Angeles for seven years, and in that time I have found that it is the landscape and particularly the complex quality of light which goes with it that I most miss about England. I remember a few years ago I was driving along a freeway and the classical music station began playing Elgar. I found myself weeping so profusely that I had to pull over and park the car. The music had potently conjured up an English landscape which was in complete contrast to what I was experiencing at that moment. As a Yorkshireman an ideal day out would have to include a walk in the Yorkshire dales, looking across the hills and watching the light change.

THEATRE / Personal voyage: Paul Taylor reviews Patrick Stewart's one-man A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic

Face puce with the strain of it, blurry eyes bulging, the man heaves forth a series of volcanic choking sounds, 'yerhung . . . yerhung . . . yerhung . . .': it could be a beginner's first anxious steps towards mastering Japanese, if the procedure didn't look so much like someone trying to give oral birth to a bouncing baby elephant. Then, suddenly, throwing his head back in triumph, the man is delivered of a long, loud laugh. Not one for the record books, true, but, 'Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh.'

THEATRE / The final frontier: Kevin Jackson talks to Patrick Stewart, better known as commander of the Starship Enterprise, about his Christmas Carol at the Old Vic

Bold and fantastical as his imagination was, Charles Dickens's visions of Christmases future surely never encompassed the prospect of a Star Fleet Captain performing one of his novellas at the Old Vic. One hundred and fifty years to the month after its first publication, however, the latest incarnation of A Christmas Carol has landed on the London stage as a one-man vehicle for Patrick Stewart, once well known to British theatregoers for his interpretations of Shylock, Enobarbus, Leontes, Cassius and Launce with the RSC, now internationally famous as Jean-Luc Picard, commander of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

But the uniforms aren't cheap

IN THE 'Court Martial' episode of Star Trek, does Captain Kirk say nothing is more important than: (a) his crew, (b) USS Enterprise (c) the prime directive or (d) the Bay City Rollers? A correct answer, writes James Cusick could have won you free registration this weekend to join 1,000 Star Trek fanatics spending 72 hours in a Glasgow hotel boldly going where no . . .

Letter: Deaths spark moral debate

Sir: The slaughter of the innocent - James Bulger - has, understandably, been the subject of much emotive comment. But the letter from Patrick Stewart (19 February) goes too far. He asserts that it is indicative of the moral decline of society and that we are personally responsible because of our 'attitudes'. It is not and we are not. It is a brutal murder - no more, no less.

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Sir: The murder of little James Bulger is the most upsetting piece of news that I have ever experienced. This may be because I have a grandson who is the same age and who looks remarkably similar to this little boy. Every time I look at a photograph of him I feel sick. Sick that something so horrific could happen to such a lovely and trusting little being.
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