Newspaper review: Mandela mourned and grammars scorned

While there is no agreed lead among the Sunday papers, the funeral of former South African President Nelson Mandela is common to most.

"Coming home" is the headline in the Sunday Mirror. After "thousands" formed a human chain at the roadside as the hearse carrying the coffin travelled past, it reports Mr Mandela's body was received by family members at his childhood home in the Eastern Cape village of Qunu, where it was placed in his old bedroom.

The Sunday Times claims victory after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt backed plans to increase the number of senior doctors in England working weekends. The paper has been running a "safe weekends" campaign amid concerns over higher death rates on Saturdays and Sundays.

Sunday Times editorial director Eleanor Mills told the BBC News Channel that presently "everything stops" at the weekend and that NHS England's medical director Sir Bruce Keogh wants hospitals that do not ensure "everything works at the weekend as it does in the week" should face penalties.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, columnist with the Independent, told the BBC News Channel it seemed doctors were unlike lawyers who "at the top work more, not less" and it was "high time" the medical profession changed.

Another senior public sector knight has been speaking to the Sunday papers. In a wide-ranging interview with the Observer, Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools in England, criticises selective state grammars for being "stuffed full of middle-class kids".

He says those who think grammar schools aid social mobility are wrong - "they don't work". Teachers may be appalled to learn Sir Michael also thinks the summer holiday is too long.

'Obscure VIPs'

Image caption The papers noted the size of the human chain which lined the road as the funeral cortege passed

The press is well represented in Qunu, where Nelson Mandela is being buried on Sunday, with many papers having dispatched reporters to the Eastern Cape.

"Mandela cherished Qunu's breath-taking vistas and rural calm", writes Oliver Hardy in the Sun on Sunday, and was a place Mr Mandela "longed for" during his 27 years in prison.

In accordance with tribal ritual, a candlelit vigil will be held at the former leader's childhood home and oxen and sheep will be slaughtered for a banquet after the burial, reports the Sunday Times.

But the Sunday Telegraph reports disquiet though among Qunu locals, who say their "rightful place" at Mr Mandela's grave-side has been taken by "obscure VIPs including the vice-president of Nicaragua, the foreign minister of Lesotho and the former first lady of Tanzania".

The Mail on Sunday and others report an alleged "snub" to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who it says was not invited to the funeral, possibly due to his criticism of the ruling African National Congress government. However, in what it calls a U-turn, South African President Jacob Zuma's office told the paper Archbishop Tutu would be allowed to go.

Up, up and away?

There is agreement among several papers that another runway at Heathrow Airport is the favoured route for the government-appointed commission tasked with deciding whether more capacity is needed in south-east London, and if so where. But whether it is needed divides opinion.

"Enough airport delays: we need take-off now", growls the Sunday Times' editorial. Yet the Independent on Sunday comes out with a steadfast no: "More runways is so last century".

The Observer believes Sir Howard Davies' Airport Commission will help the main political parties by saying a decision on such a hot political potato is not urgent. It says the report is likely to conclude more capacity will not need to be in place until 2030.

Or, as the Sun on Sunday puts it, the issue is being "kicked into the long grass".

The Sunday Telegraph devotes a graphic-filled page to the issue, but it's a survey at the bottom of the page which attracts the eye, revealing as it does that a third of those questioned think regional airports should take more of the strain.

Roam, Jade Rabbit, roam

Image caption The name Jade Rabbit was chosen after a nationwide vote

"Rabbit landing is one giant hop for China," headlines the Sunday Times. "Wan small step for mankind," from the Sun on Sunday. The Independent, like its editorial stance, opts for a third way: "One small hop for Mankind".

Puns aside, there is agreement that China's successful mission to put a robot rover on the surface of the Moon - the first landing on the satellite for 40 years - is testament to the country's ambitions as a global player.

The Sunday Times says experts see it as a test of whether China can put men on the Moon, despite its space programme being way behind the US and Russia.

A manned Moon mission could take place in the next decade and the success of Jade Rabbit positions the country ahead of its Asian rivals India and South Korea.

The Independent contrasts the ambitions of China with those of the European Union. It comes down to one word: chips. Apparently a Greek scientist tasked with making astronauts' food more appealing has found the humble fry can still have an appetising crispy crust, even in zero-gravity.

Stones and bones

Image caption Stonehenge (A303 just out of frame to the left)

Stonehenge, it might be argued, is generally not considered to be a particularly divisive topic in most British homes. Yet that may not be true for druids and archaeologists.

As the Independent on Sunday puts it: "Two tribes go to war - over bones". The argument is all to do with the new £27m visitor centre which opens on Wednesday. The archaeologists want the bones of ancient Britons found buried beneath the monument to go on show because it connects visitors with their ancestors.

But Druid Arthur Pendragon - who the Independent notes has claimed to be a reincarnation of King Arthur - will lead a protest at the centre's opening ceremony. He says the issue is not about paganism "but common decency and respect".

Away from the moral issues, the Sunday Telegraph gives its readers a rundown of what the new visitor centre is for. Because "trippers" haven't been able to set foot inside the stones for decades, the building is intended to help you see what it is like to do so, thanks to 360-degree cinema.

Rowan Moore, architecture critic for the Observer, while listing the trials and tribulations of getting the centre built in the first place, says the "agony is at last over" and declares it "an achievement not only of architecture, but above all of cultural diplomacy".

Yet for all that, Moore reminds us of Stonehenge's Achilles' heel. The nearby A303 trunk road "drowning the ancient peace".

Is it Andy's year - again?

Image caption It's OK Andy - Fleet Street's finest are behind you

Andy Murray will be watching the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) show on Sunday night with the backing of most papers to take the title.

Britain's number one male tennis player is a shoe-in, if you read the papers: "Bet Your Shirt on Champ Andy" declares the Sun on Sunday, above a picture of the 26-year-old Scot with his top off.

The Sunday Mirror goes with Murray being "odds-on" (actually 1/25), with jockey AP McCoy his nearest rival with the bookies at 12/1.

Despite being favourite, Murray will not be at the venue in Leeds, but at his training base in the balmier climes of Miami. The Observer's Tom Lamont reminds us that it was at the same location last year the tennis player had to award his own runners-up prize, after boxer Lennox Lewis "muffed his cue".

Murray may hope to avoid a repeat of SPOTY 2012 - not just the fact he didn't win - but that he had to give himself the trophy.

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