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Simon Rattle/Berlin Philharmonic - Barbican

Funny story: Simon Rattle/Berlin Philharmonic - Barbican

Stravinsky: Apollon Musagete (1947) Mahler: Symphony No 4. Arguably the world's greatest orchestra is in London for a few days, showing us, among other things, Sir Simon's latest work on the Mahler cycle - some of which he demonstrated at last summer's Proms. Pierre Noxious writes: So the biggest names in orchestral music are in town for a few days and everyone's falling over themselve...

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Sarah Brown - PM's Hit Woman

Funny story: Sarah Brown - PM's Hit Woman

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown had a neat and tidy way of dealing with difficult people - his missus would "take care of it." The Sunday papers are full of revelations from Sarah Brown's diaries of her days at 10 Downing Street, to be serialised in the Daily Mail this week. The Sunday Times, for example, trumpets: "Stiletto Sarah Takes Revenge For Gordon." But, as usual, the report doesn...

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History Review: The End Of Byzantium, by Jonathan Harris.

Funny story: History Review: The End Of Byzantium, by Jonathan Harris.

Constantinople fell to the Turks on May 29, 1453 - the last embers of the Roman Empire were finally extinguished. Ken Lucid considers this latest retelling of the end of a very long story... Leeds railway station, Friday morning. A two-and-a-bit hours ride back to London after a conference... Girondins and Jacobins, I seem to remember. Scintillating stuff. Anyway, I was knackered. Completel...

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University Challenge: Brookes Bumps Christ's

Funny story: University Challenge: Brookes Bumps Christ's

Historian Ken Lucid writes: Ellis Fields rings, Tuesday afternoon: "Hi Ken, old mate... you're not reviewing anything for us this week, are you?" "Nope." "Did you watch University Challenge last night?" "Er - yeah." "Do us a piece on it, will you? The guy who usually does it for the TheSpoof is 'indisposed' or something. They want to know if we can get them out of a hole and as you'...

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Norman Rockwell's America - Dulwich Picture Gallery Review

Funny story: Norman Rockwell's America - Dulwich Picture Gallery Review

Norman Rockwell is perhaps America's best-loved artist of the twentieth century, wittily illustrating ordinary and fictional Americans - not least on his famous covers for the Saturday Evening Post. We sent our art historian and critic Proserpine Gainsborough-Halfwit to Dulwich to run an eye over this first UK exhibition of his original work... Don't make me laugh! Traipse out to bloody...

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CSI:Miami - Season Finale Review

Funny story: CSI:Miami - Season Finale Review

So another season comes to a close on a cliff-hanger. All the Miami-Dade CSI's - except Lt Horatio Caine - were left incapacitated, lying on the lab floor. What on Earth could have happened? Do we really care? After all, they'll all no doubt be fine again at the end of the first episode of the next series after Lt Caine's determined investigation. This has been an odd season, which has se...

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History Review: Books Of The Year

Funny story: History Review: Books Of The Year

It has been a bumper year for history publishing and there's a lot to choose from if you want to give history for Christmas. We asked Ken Lucid to remember some of the volumes he's read for us during 2010... Strewth! They don't ask bloody much do they? It's not enough I have to read all these bloody books, but come Christmas I have to remember them! And are you sure you want to go buyi...

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Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker

Funny story: Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker

Berlin Philharmonic/Simon Rattle. (EMI) Pierre Noxious writes: Ah, it's Christmas, so it must be old Piotr's Nutcracker. There's a lot of interest in this because Sir Simon doesn't have any rep to speak of when it comes to Tchaikovsky. In fact, this is his first recording of the Russian master and he admits in the sleeve notes that he was never a fan. But this always brings a smile to...

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History Review (American Civil War): A World On Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided, By Amanda Foreman

Funny story: History Review (American Civil War): A World On Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided, By Amanda Foreman

A huge history of the American Civil War (are there any brief ones?) by the author of the celebrated Georgiana, Duchess Of Devonshire. Looking for a present for the history buff in your life? Ken Lucid writes: Sorry I've been away for a while - been in Australia at a conference on the Anzacs (couldn't make it the same time as an Ashes test, could they? Idiots!) and have been snowed under her...

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CSI:Miami Review. "I See Dead People!" says Calleigh.

Funny story: CSI:Miami Review. "I See Dead People!" says Calleigh.

Series eight, episode 20: Backfire A couple of weeks ago it was science fiction as Lt Horatio Caine and his team in the Miami-Dade Crime Scene Investigation unit probed a suspicious death connected to a space tourism flight. Last night, we were taken into the realms of the supernatural. Somehow, the CSIs are at a house blaze before the fire fighters (how did they know it was a crime scene...

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Downton Abbey - Super Job Well Done

Funny story: Downton Abbey - Super Job Well Done

So, once again, the flower of British manhood marches off to teach the Kaiser a lesson. For the umpteenth time in TV history the world will never be the same again, as those who used to know their place will emerge from the Great War demanding their voice in society. Despatches from the front will be greeted with joy and despair while those left at home will pray desperately for the safety o...

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Kate Middleton: Inside The Mind Of A Future Queen.

Funny story: Kate Middleton: Inside The Mind Of A Future Queen.

It seems this lovely young lady, who has captured all our hearts - not just Prince William's - is destined to be our Queen one day. We know what she looks like and the official life story. But what is she like underneath the royal glamour? What makes her tick? We sent society editor Melissa Blit-Head to find out. Here is her exclusive report... The Hon Jemima Boden-Boden has known Kate...

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The Pre-Raphaelites And Italy - Ashmolean Museum. Review.

Funny story: The Pre-Raphaelites And Italy - Ashmolean Museum. Review.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was highly influenced by Italian art and literature. We sent our art historian Proserpine Gainsborough-Halfwit to run an eye over the current exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite art at Oxford's Ashmolean. "Review the Pre-Raphaelite thing at the Ashmolean," they said. "It finishes next month." "Of course - great. I love the Pre-Raphs." I said. "Where's the Ashmolean -...

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History Review: Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin, by Timothy Snyder

Funny story: History Review: Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler And Stalin, by Timothy Snyder

Between them, the two dictators had 14 million non-combatants killed in Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. Yale's Professor Snyder sheds new light on the horrors. Ken Lucid writes... Oh for crying out loud! More Hitler and Stalin! Don't misunderstand me - there's not a lot wrong with this effort, and Snyder's got a good track record. But... ... Hitler and Stalin. You know all I hear abou...

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Midsomer Murders Punches Its Weight At Last - TV Review

Funny story: Midsomer Murders Punches Its Weight At Last - TV Review

So, with a two-week opportunity to reassert itself, Midsomer Murders teases us with two marvellously ridiculous shows before it goes off air again, victim to some European football contest. But, it was Barnaby himself who suggested why he is soon to make his way into the sunset. Three murders, he admits to his sergeant at the end, were committed "right under my nose." (Don't worry, he is to...

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History Review: She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth, by Helen Castor

Funny story: History Review: She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth, by Helen Castor

Before Elizabeth I became the iconic 'Virgin Queen' four women ruled England in what was very much a man's world. Medievalist Dr Castor examines their stories. Ken Lucid writes. So. OK? I'm doing a book about women. Satisfied? I'm not kidding you, round here it's "women this, women that." It's not enough that we include the feminine side in our various modules and courses, we have set asi...

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Your Stars This Week: Libra

Funny story: Your Stars This Week: Libra

By our resident astrologer, Liberty Nebulae. You are well known for being indecisive - but you must be firm. Grab opportunity by the forelock, my lovely Libra darlings. Yes! Smack that smart-arse get at work who keeps nicking your coffee and swans around chatting up the birds - give him a right good twatting! He's been asking for it for years, hasn't he? Didn't he blame you for that cock-up...

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Midsomer Murders "Master Class" - TV Review

Funny story: Midsomer Murders "Master Class" - TV Review

Iphigenia Fields writes: This latest episode in the annals of Tom Barnaby's murder investigations has to rate with the absolute best. A show that has an internationally-renowned piano teacher (James Fox) attempting to preserve his talent gene for the future through incest and two doting daughters as his shield and sword, has to be admired. We find ourselve asking, however, why Barnaby (Jo...

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Sibelius/Leonard Bernstein - DVD review

Funny story: Sibelius/Leonard Bernstein - DVD review

Symphonies - No 1, in E min; No 2 in D; No 5 in E flat; No 7 in C. Vienna Philharmonic/Leonard Bernstein. Pierre Noxious writes: Bloody hell! I just heard on the radio - just this second on Radio 4's Midweek - that the guy who wrote Amazing Grace was a vicar and a slave trader! What you can learn, eh? I like to listen to Radio 4 when I'm writing - or last night's Radcliffe & Mac...

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History Review: Crimea: The Last Crusade, by Orlando Figes

Funny story: History Review: Crimea: The Last Crusade, by Orlando Figes

How and why did an Anglican power allied with a Roman Catholic power seek to bolster an ailing Islamic power against an Orthodox one? Ken Lucid writes: Cecil Woodham-Smith... Cecil Woodham-Smith... shiver. Ugh! Back when I was taking Eng Lit 'O' level ('O' levels - remember them?) they stuck us with The Reason Why by Ms Woodham-Smith (yeah - stupid name for a girl) to read. History a...

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JS Bach Violin Concertos

Funny story: JS Bach Violin Concertos

In A minor, BWV 1041; in E, BWV 1042; in G minor, after BWV 1056; in A, after BWV 1055. Rachel Podger, violin; Brecon Baroque (Channel Classics). Pierre Noxious writes. Couldn't resist this one. Tell you why. Rachel Podger. Isn't that a brilliant name? When I was a kid, my folks ran a shop in Garforth (near Leeds. Garforth's that place where the local football club has given Gazza...

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History Review: The German Genius, by Peter Watson.

Funny story: History Review: The German Genius, by Peter Watson.

Subtitle: Europe's Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution, and the 20th Century. The German contribution to western culture since the enlightenment has been immense, but the early 20th century and the Nazi era in particular damaged the image - almost irreparably. Can Watson set the record straight? Ken Lucid writes: "Oh, surely you're not bringing that on holiday," the Empres...

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Emmanuel Macron Doesn’t Speak Trumpish

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