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.

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Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash