Voices 'Selfie': One of the peculiarities of the past few months has been how the idea of taking a photograph of your own face has become something new and interesting

'Banter', 'Aspiration', 'Selfie'? Not this year, thank you very much

You can't separate Blur from Schubert

A vibrant popular culture is one sign of a more democratic society

Lost world in Mississippi

Radio: DOWN THE DIRT ROAD Russell Davies

Letter: The lowdown on pop culture

Sir: I must congratulate Niall Ferguson ("Drivel that deserved to self-deconstruct", 5 June) for stating in print exactly what many of us have been thinking: that the Modern Review folded because it was a very bad magazine, and that the press coverage of the ensuing Punch and Judy show has been irrelevant at best, irresponsible at worst.

Hung up on Julie and Toby

The 'Modern Review' has been shut down by its editor, Toby Young. Can't, says Julie Burchill, its founder. Media folk are taking sides in the mother of all postmodern battles. Phone-lines are hotting up. John Lyttle, a former contributor, fields the calls; Martin Rowson (also ex-MR) pour s oil on troubled waters

LETTERS: Social trends in statistics

From Mr W. McLennan Sir: Rosie Waterhouse ("Attack on bias in official figures silenced", 26 January) is correct that any reputable government statistical agency has a responsibility for publishing statistical facts, uncomfortable as well as comfortable.Statistical agencies have to adopt an apolitical approach as well, because, in the words of the 1993 Open Government White Paper, official statistics "are fundamental ... to open government" and they allow "the impact of government policies and actions tobe assessed."

What they didn't want you to know : Disclosures

Muriel Nissel on a worrying social trend: censorship

Attack on bias in official figures silenced

The head of the Government Statistical Service has banned publication of an article commissioned for the 25th anniversary edition of the social statistics bible, Social Trends, because it criticises political influence on official statistics in th e 1980s.


Elizabeth Esteve-Coll, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, will announce today that she is to step down from one of the most coveted posts in the arts world.

A weekly scrape along the bottom of the pop culture barrel

The sound of the city is. . . grunge? No. Garage? Please. The New Pop? Think again. Reggae? Get real.

Letter: Greene giant

IS POPULAR culture a contradiction in terms? Geoffrey Wheatcroft ('Behind the jolly Greene giant', 10 July) clearly thinks so. He says Graham Greene was guilty of 'incurable frivolity' and doubts he was ever entirely serious or sincere about anything. These are simply extensions of the well-worn theory, put about by Anthony Burgess, among others, that Greene could never be a great novelist because he was popular. There are many historical precedents, Dickens being the most obvious example.

Let's hear it for the willy

ONE OF the best things to have arrived in popular culture over the past decade or so is the ubiquitous use of the word 'willy'. It is second only to the entry into general consciousness of the vulva and the comedian Lea de Laria's concept of the 'wide-on', a revolutionary contribution to the language of desire.

BOOK REVIEW / Beyond the global village idiot: 'Six Walks in the Fictional Woods' - Umberto Eco: Harvard University Press, 14.95; 'Apocalypse Postponed' - Umberto Eco: BFI, 35 pounds / 13.95

FROM Proust to Poe via The Three Musketeers and pornography, Six Walks in the Fictional Woods - a dashing and stylish series of six lectures - covers narrative time, authorship and reading. It displays Umberto Eco's enviable ability to transform arid semiotics and narrative theory into intellectual entertainment. This is no mean feat, but there are serious drawbacks to Eco's approach. Teresa De Lauretis calls him the John Ford of the semiological frontier. But he is also, like Chris the DJ from Northern Exposure, the patron saint of the ontologically twee.

Exhibitions: Seeing is believing: Hanna Barbera's animation has helped shape popular culture since mid-century. Iain Gale makes a link to Hogarth

Evening falls on the prehistoric landscape. Pterodactyls swoop over the mountains. A brontosaurus lumbers through the rain and a terrible rumbling shakes the earth. With a dreadful roar it appears round the corner - a car, a two-dinosaur-power model, driven by the world's most famous stone-age man. 'Flintstones, meet the Flintstones, they're the modern stone- age family' runs the song, and so they are. In her Bedrock bungalow, suburban housewife Wilma's greatest indiscretion is to spend the housekeeping on a new dress. Baby girl Pebbles is mischievious but cute. But above all there's Fred with all the preoccupations of modern man - success at the golf club, esteem among the freemasons, promotion at work. Bumbling Fred Flintstone is one of the most enduring creations of an artistic partnership whose work, now on show in Cirencester, has helped shape popular culture since mid- century.

BOOK REVIEW / The hot news from an ice-cold Neolithic Joe: 'The Man in the Ice' - Konrad Spindler translated by Ewald Osers: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 18.99 pounds

HAS SO distinguished a visitor ever been greeted so uncivilly in modern times? He arrived two years ago in a style to make the sternest Nordic mythologist swoon, emerging high on a mountain from a tomb of ice at the end of a journey 5,000 years long. Yet he was extracted from his icy fastness with all the finesse with which one scrapes a burnt fry-up off the bottom of a pan. He was poked, he was tugged, his belongings were trampled, and his left buttock was chiselled off with a power tool.

Captain Moonlight: Social trends

MY TRADE, as you know, is trivia. Not for me the seminal, the epochal, or even the vitally significant. No, what we go for here is the wavering, flickering, eponymous beam which provides tiny illuminations of the human condition, etc. Take, for example, Social Trends, the annual statistical digest, or 'snapshot of the nation', produced by the Central Statistical Office, published last week. Look elsewhere for analysis. What struck me was the catchily titled Table 10.2: Time use in a typical week: by employment status and sex, 1992-93, which shows that all workers, full or part-time, spend more time asleep than doing anything else. Makes you think, as does the fact that 3 per cent of men questioned had participated in dressmaking, needlework or knitting in the previous four weeks. Moving quickly on, the dove is the most numerous bird on farmland, and a woman in the UK can be expected to have 1.8 children. Finally, perhaps you can help me: why, last year, did 50,000 people leave the South-west for the South-east while 65,000 moved in the other direction? We should be told.
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