Time off

5th September 2008 at 01:00

Festival

Bestival

It's the time of year when everyone in the land under 40 has two choices: go to Bestival, or spend the rest of the year listening to your mates banging on about how great Bestival was. The first option will set you back about Pounds 200 on eBay, while the latter will almost certainly cost you your sanity. But if you value your cool, then you've probably already made the decision to head down to the Isle of Wight this weekend and partake of an epic bash that prides itself, according to www.bestival.net, on its "escapist atmosphere and eye-catching thrills and frills".

This year, Amy Winehouse, My Bloody Valentine and Underworld headline against a backdrop of whimsical high jinx that include the Big Love Inflatable Church, Breastival (for mothers and babies) and The Village, a lovingly recreated village green with its very own Women's Institute.

The theme for this year is "30,000 freaks under the sea", so come on down ye lobsters, mermaids, prawns and shopping trolleys. For a small fee, you can even avail yourself of the luxury "comfy crappers" that are perfect for anyone who prefers to live like a fresh water fish, rather than a mud lark.

TV

Manchester Night, BBC4

Joy Division. The Happy Mondays. The Happy Mondays. Joy Division. The list of great bands to come out of Manchester is literally endless. Which is presumably why BBC4 is dedicating an entire Friday night to the place, with a string of programmes documenting its golden years in the Seventies and Eighties.

There's They Came from Manchester at 9pm, a look at the Manchester pop scene since the days of The Hollies, Rock Family Trees at 10pm, and Factory at 10.50pm, a history of the eponymous record label and Tony Wilson, the notorious big mouth behind it.

God knows, Factory Records and its various offshoots have inspired enough films in recent years, from Control, to this year's Joy Division documentary and 2002's 24 Hour Party People. But fanboys and girls never seem to tire of poring over its empire of excess, perhaps because the music it produced went on to to define pop music for decades to come.

The night will also pay tribute to some of Manchester's underappreciated exports, such as M People and Simply Red. A price worth paying for Joy Division? You decide.

Book

Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman

Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times doom monger, cracks the whip over his country's failure to embrace green technology in his latest book, Hot, Flat and Crowded, which looks at how seeking out sources of renewable energy could make America and Europe not only greener, but safer and more productive.

His last book - The World is Flat - argued that globalisation is changing the way Western and developing countries compete. Hot, Flat and Crowded is no less ambitious in scope, pushing for Western nations to become less dependent on the Middle East for energy, so that authoritarian leaders will be forced out of power as their petro-dollars deplete.

Friedman hasn't escaped criticism in the past, both for his support of the Iraq war and his obsession with summing up the state of the world.

"The man has a plan for everything," says Bill Bonner, the author of Empire of Debt. "(He cannot) imagine that there is any situation - no matter how remote or complex - that his own little mind cannot improve."

Nonetheless, with petrol prices soaring as high as summer temperatures, Friedman's book should make a compelling read.

Film

RocknRolla

Violence. Threats. Betrayal. But enough of the stories about Guy Ritchie's marriage. His latest film, RocknRolla, which hits cinemas this week, hasn't been mercilessly panned by critics, which is nothing short of a miracle given that Swept Away and Revolver, his last efforts, were trashed so maliciously it was like watching a massive playground pile-on, with added adjectives.

RocknRolla is the story of East End chancers, Archie and Lenny, who find themselves on the wrong side of a slimy Russian billionaire, Uri, when a property deal goes awry. Throw in Thandie Newton as the femme fatale and an enigmatic junkie rock `n' roller who's definitely not Pete Doherty, and you have a recipe for some enjoyable although typically mannered cockney mayhem.

Gordon Smart from The Sun has called it "brilliant", "cracking" and "absolute class" - to be taken with a pinch of salt given that the cufflinked gossip columnist isn't exactly Barry Norman. The consensus is it's not a complete and total disaster. Which should be something for Mr Ritchie to hang on to, in the absence of his muscular wife.

Or you could .

Dirty your soul by viewing the Big Brother final . See Keira Knightley's heaving wotsits in The Duchess, on general release . listen to the BBC World Service's fascinating The 66 Club, a documentary about 11 women who've used the same sperm donor.

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