It all makes for an intriguing contrast with the way Khan presented herself on the previous Bat for Lashes albums. Gone are the horses, head-dresses, candles and hippy accessories, the stuff that could cause a passer-by to label her kooky, one of the most dispiriting adjectives in the English language. The dictionary definition is eccentric, which fits Khan just fine: if you encourage audiences at your gigs to howl in order to “shed their humanity” and are given to telling journalists that wearing a head-dress can “draw the attention of the gods to your consciousness”, you’re clearly not targeting that corner of the market that voted Aiden Grimshaw off The X Factor because they thought he was a bit too weird.

Alexis Petridis reviews Bat for Lashes new album, and amazing cover image


Just the victory parade to go, and then Britain’s summer of love will be over. London 2012, the capital’s greatest party in living memory, is done. At the risk of using up the entire annual quota of Guardian editorial schmaltz in one go, this past month it feels as if most of us have been (as Boris Johnson would have it) cropdusted with serotonin, the happiness hormone. 

Read the Guardian’s editorial this morning on the Paralympics and Olympics summer of love.

Here’s the review of the closing ceremony from our Olympics editor Owen Gibson, and Jonathan Freedland looks back on the summer of 2012

Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

What an amazing night - relive the closing ceremony & look back on the summer of 2012 with the Guardian

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” The one everyone knows (and quotes). Parodied, spoofed, and misremembered, Austen’s celebrated zinger remains the archetypal First Line for an archetypal tale. Only Dickens comes close, with the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light etc…”

Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice (1813)

The 10 best first lines in fiction

Our guide to the greatest opening lines of novels in the English language, from Jane Austen to James Joyce

Review by Robert McCrum:

John F Kennedy, always a US icon, has over the years acquired a life story that’s almost all sex and violence. Assassinated on 22 November 1963 in an atrocious public death, JFK and his record have become progressively tarnished by the sexual secrets of Camelot.

Photographs of the year 2011

I took this during the 25 January revolution. It was just before sunset, so the light was good and the colours came out well. I went up to the roof of a building overlooking Tahrir square. More and more people were arriving and you could hear them chanting below. People were filled with revolutionary feeling, but it was a joyful, vibrant atmosphere; they were excited and I was happy to be part of that moment. I was completely in awe of their fervour Photograph: Mohammad Abd al-Razeq Abdullah al-Baba Abdullah al-Baba/AFP/Getty Images

But what will 2012 bring? Tell us your news predictions for the new year. Here are some things you might answer:

• What will happen to the Eurozone? Will any member countries leave the Euro?
• Who will win the Republican primaries in the US?
• Will Usain Bolt take victory at the London Olympics? Who will take the honours at the Games?
• Will we see a shift in party leaders in the UK political scene?
• What films will be blockbuster successes next year and which will see Oscars glory?

Links round up: The best of 2011

More and more lists of ‘the best’ of 2011 (and the worst!) are appearing in the build up to the New Year this weekend. As well as a crop of Guardian articles looking back at the year that has been, we round up some of the other good top ten lists we’ve seen on Tumblr:

Feel free to add your own 2011 review post link by reblogging this post. We look forward to reading some more before the year is out!

Photographs of the year 2011

This is absolutely my favourite shot. I saw on TV that Reeves corner in Croydon was on fire and decided to go and have a look. There was a small crowd of people in their pyjamas, from the flats which were on fire. A Romanian man pushed through the crowd to the police, shouting that there was a woman still in the building. The next minute I saw two little feet on the window ledge of the second floor. After a few seconds she just fell. The police and crowd below didn’t really catch her, it was more like they broke her fall. She was crying and ran off really quickly Photograph: WENN/Amy Weston
“I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.”
Gaffes of the year 2011. Jeremy Clarkson on the November 30 public sector strikes. See the rest here.