i Penny Mordaunt, Conservative MP

Someone’s about to make a Splash!

BOOK REVIEW / Method acting through a two-way radio: Songs my mother taught me - Marlon Brando with Robert Lindsey: Century, pounds 17.99

I WANTED to read Brando's autobiography for two reasons. First, because he agreed to do it only on condition that the receipt of several million dollars from his publisher would not oblige him to mention either his several wives or his many children (the details of their lives are of no interest to me, and I liked the idea of saving time by not having to listen to the usual half-truths and emotional self-justifications). Second, because it was unashamedly ghost-written, a once discredited process by which some of the most interesting documentation of pop culture is currently emerging.

Letter: Lord Scarsdale's views on his family seat

Sir: While I cannot speak about events prior to my appointment as the National Trust's architect at Kedleston Hall in 1990, my own experience of working with the National Trust and with Lord Scarsdale since then is markedly different from the impression given by the report of Lord Scarsdale's interview on local radio ('Viscount accuses National Trust of vandalism', 11 August). I have observed first hand the extent to which the Trust's staff consult Lord Scarsdale regularly about even quite minor matters and his views are welcomed and valued.

Hartstone to raise pounds 30m to repay its creditors

HARTSTONE, the troubled leather goods group, is raising pounds 30m in a rights issue to restructure its balance sheet.

Lumiere resurfaces

The Lumiere cinema in St Martin's Lane is reopening on 8 July after a four-week closure. The cinema, which is underground, had to be redecorated after water leaked into the auditorium.

QE2's pounds 30m facelift

The QE2, which has been in service for 25 years, is to undergo a pounds 30m refurbishment. The work will involve redecoration of every cabin on the 69,000-ton Cunard liner and every bathroom is to be replaced.

Flat Earth: Fitting acronyms

NEW acronyms, of which there is never any shortage, generally produce an unpronounceable word (EU, MFN) or a ridiculous one (Nafta, ERM, EMU). Occasionally, though, the effect can be nicely onomatopoeic: Slorc, for example, sounds exactly like a country being throttled by its rulers (the State Law and Order Restoration Committee, which runs things in Burma). More rarely, along comes an acronym which seems to fit the bill exactly. We like two new ones, Potus and Flotus, now apparently in use in Washington. Potus - President of the United States - has a kind of latinate ring to it, suggesting power and authority, and perhaps even - or are we imagining this? - non-inhaling drug use. And Flotus isn't too bad for First Lady Hillary, who has so buoyantly ridden the Whitewater rapids without getting her feet wet.

Fury as flood damages homes: Cable TV contractors say test dig failed to locate supply pipeline marked on map

Hundreds of householders in West London are continuing a massive clean-up today after water from a shattered mains pipe flooded their homes.

THEATRE / Low on spirit: Paul Taylor on Alan Ayckbourn's latest play

Alan Ayckbourn is to writer's block all that Proust was to the meet-the-author signing tour. A mere matter of weeks since the premiere of his 46th play, Haunting Julia (opus 47) now rolls off his word processor and into the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.

Allied Radio on ice ahead of restructuring

SHARES IN Allied Radio, the loss- making independent broadcaster, were suspended at 101 2 p as it announced plans for a rights issue and capital reconstruction. Details will be sent to shareholders and stockholders later this week, with results for the year to 30 September.

Property revival helps Taylor Woodrow back to the black

A SHARP recovery in profits from housing and property combined with an absence of exceptional charges to push Taylor Woodrow pounds 30.2m into the black in 1993, a sharp reversal from the previous year's pounds 94.5m loss.

Cheap options for Montague

ROBERT MONTAGUE, the chief executive of Tiphook, has cut his salary by three-quarters to pounds 200,000 under the proposed financial reconstruction of the deeply indebted transport leasing group.

Architecture Update: Restoration comedy

THE EUROPEAN Commission is offering pounds 2.5m for the restoration of buildings associated with the performing arts including theatres, concert halls, opera houses and cinemas. It says that anything which can be done to conserve the architectural heritage is not only of cultural importance, but is also an investment in Europe's future regional, social and economic development.

Appeals: The Ragged School Museum Trust

Children from Dulverton Junior School, south-east London, attending a Victorian lesson at the Ragged School Museum, beside the Regent's Canal, in Bow. The museum trust was set up in 1983 with three aims: to house an East End history museum, to save three canalside warehouses from demolition, now the only mid-Victorian warehouses left on the six miles of canal and towpath in Tower Hamlets, and to provide education, activities and space for temporary exhibitions. The museum opened four years ago and has 12,000 visitors each year. It has started an appeal for pounds 650,000 for a three-part refurbishment programme: to convert further warehouses for display space and other facilities, to make a new kitchen and to do general repairs and redecoration.

CHESS / Did you solve the reconstruction?

CONGRATULATIONS to the 75 readers (including one grandmaster who misspelt Independent) who sent in correct answers to our Christmas competition. Commiserations to the three who submitted 'proof' that it could not be solved.

The long road to restoration: A tough hike will benefit one of the nation's finest churches. Michael Leapman reports

THERE cannot be many countries where a rector would feel obliged to undertake a 200-mile mountain hike to raise money to restore one of the nation's most historic and exquisite churches. That is what the Rev Richard Hayes, of St Mary Woolnoth in the heart of the City of London, will be doing next May.
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Sir Bruce Forsyth with Tess Daly in the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
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Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
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Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
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Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
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Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
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The Queen delivers her Christmas message
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there