Arts and Entertainment

A window on the real world with Danny and his diamond geezers

The 50 books every child should read

Michael Gove says he wants 11-year-olds to read the equivalent of a book a week. So what should they be? We ask the experts

The Wisdom Of Birds, By Tim Birkhead

In the tradition of the greatest naturalist writers, Birkhead makes his area fascinating to those who have only a mild interest.

Diary: Murdoch's sci-fi encounter

An exciting moment for young James Murdoch yesterday, as he took the stage at the second annual Abu Dhabi Media Summit – which went ahead despite the unrest in the region – to interview fiery filmmaker James Cameron. The pair discussed, among other things, 3D – which, conveniently for the Sky boss, Cameron claimed was the future of telly. Given that Murdoch is both a sci-fi fanboy (he used to have a six-foot statue of Darth Vader outside his office at Wapping, and a miniature Imperial Stormtrooper on his desk) and a committed environmentalist (his office chairs are made from cardboard), I imagine an audience with the director of Avatar must have been a wet dream-worthy experience. How inconsiderate of Cameron, then, to bring up the response of Murdoch père's Fox film studio when they were first presented with Cameron's blockbusting vision for Avatar. "Is there any way," the Hollywood execs allegedly inquired, "to reduce this tree-hugging hippy crap?"

IoS letters, emails & online postings (13 March 2011)

You are wrong to say that the 33,000 women born between 6 March and 5 April 1954 who face a two-year delay in their state pension age are "undoubtedly unlucky but nowhere near as unlucky as generations of men" ("There will be losers, but we have to iron out sex inequalities", 6 March). These women, who have already accepted a five-year increase in their state pension age, have also faced a lifetime of workplace inequality. Even now, a 55-year-old man working full time earns a third more than his female equivalent.

Bird Cloud, By Annie Proulx

The retreat to the wilderness is an established literary genre which many writers have either tried themselves or paid homage to, from Thoreau taking himself off to the woods of Walden Pond to WB Yeats with his imagined move to the lake isle of Innisfree. We have come to expect some sort of narrative or character-arc from such an experience; some sort of move towards a realisation of personality or circumstance. Such indeed we find in Annie Proulx's Bird Cloud, although it is perhaps not one we were expecting. She comes to the eventual conclusion that she has built her home in the wilderness in the wrong place.

Eating Animals, By Jonathan Safran Foer

The unpalatable truth about meat

Why Triesman happily put boot into FA's 'macho culture'

Sir Dave Richards blamed for aggressive approach that rejects any notion of reform

Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards is 'aggressive' claims Lord Triesman

Former Football Association chief Lord Triesman today accused Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards of using aggressive tactics to pressurise others in the game into blocking the FA's efforts to change.

Leading article: Mercy flight

Take a look at a kakapo and you get a pretty good idea of why it is endangered. It is not just the heaviest parrot in the world; it also can't fly. It is an extraordinarily unsightly bird with a blotched yellow-brown owly face atop its splay-footed body. It only comes out at night. But even in the dark, another kakapo might be forgiven for thinking it too ugly to mate with.

Kurt Geiger – a shining example of a sole trader

As one of a handful of niche-market shoe retailers, the designer brand is thriving

Anthony Rose: 'Because pheasant and partridge aren’t fatty birds, they cope well with wines that are low in tannin'

With grouse done and dusted and snipe and woodcock shortly off the menu, there's still a good month until the end of the season for partridge and pheasant. If I could have just one game bird, it would have to be a plump, tender, not-too-gamey partridge, either roasted with a rasher of streaky bacon or pot roasted with bouquet garni and red wine for maximum succulence. Because pheasant and partridge are not fatty birds, they cope well with wines that are relatively low in tannin and not too oaky or alcoholic. Same goes for rabbit.

PM's impartiality in doubt after Christmas date with Murdoch executive

David Cameron was yesterday accused of "tucking into turkey" with a senior News Corporation executive days after he intervened in the company's bid to take full control of BSkyB.

Last Night's TV: Hattie/BBC4<br />Mary Portas: Secret Shopper/Channel 4

Hattie Jacques is cooking Christmas dinner for family and friends, and it's not going entirely well. One of the turkeys has been burned and, as Hattie is giving the gravy a stir, the ash from her jutting cigarette drops into the saucepan. "Don't tell anyone about the secret ingredient," she hisses at the friend standing next to her, and quickly stirs it in. The subject of Stephen Russell's biopic Hattie – the latest in a line of BBC4 dramas about the private lives of television's early public figures – was the rather more interesting secret ingredient that Hattie was about to add to her marriage a live-in lover called John Schofield, who displaced John Le Mesurier from the marital bed and sent him into glum exile in the attic.

Katy Guest: Rant &amp; Rave (16/01/11)

Rant

Sainsbury's toasts festive sales spurt

Sainsbury emerged as the festive winner among the supermarkets, reporting a 3.6 per cent rise in same-store sales for its third quarter, excluding fuel – comfortably ahead of City forecasts of about 3 per cent.

Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
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Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
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One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
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Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
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(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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