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There is no talent or style or balls or imagination in the haters. At least they've made me the most controversial painter alive. Not a bad thing to be. Since I can paint and write better than my enemies, the war ain't over yet - RB Kitaj, artist, on his critics

Pure uninvolved sex. I can understand that. It's a fantasy that lies deep in all of us. No names. Just get on with it - Helen Mirren, actress, who has been named the sexiest woman on TV

It's fantastic to see women single-mindedly pursuing an activity which isn't essential. Play is an activity that puts you in the centre of your life. Women are expected to put other people's needs first. Here they are entering on to the male playground - Rebecca Abrams, author, on the British women's expedition to the North Pole

I'm hopelessly stranded somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. But I would trade the Americans' generosity and affection for British snottiness and cynicism any day - David Puttnam, film-maker

Death's a challenge. I'm not in a flap. I'm curious. It's also a temptation - Saul Bellow, prize-winning author, aged 81

The blood and sawdust of the arena are things of the past. The megaphone and the bludgeon are obsolete. Today's weapon is the rapier and we need to take a training course - Alan Clark, Tory MP, on Tony Blair's performance at the first new-style Prime Minister's Question Time in the Commons

There seem to be few signs that any of their leadership contenders have learnt the hard lesson that the downsizing of the Conservative Party followed their enthusiastic support for downsizing everyone else - John Monks, TUC general secretary