Andrew Martin

Journalist and novelist Andrew Martin is the author of the 'Jim Stringer' series of novels based around railways. He has written for the Independent on Sunday, the Evening Standard, the Sunday Times and the New Statesman among others.

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North Korea: News that Kim Jong-un has gout is no laughing matter. He does have a nuclear arsenal, remember

With that in mind, I say to North Korea's Supreme Leader: 'Get well soon, Mr Kim!'

Haunted by memories of my golf shame

It soon became apparent that I was 'a rabbit'
Wooden beach huts in Southwold Town Suffolk County

Repeat tourism: Southwold every July – that's the ticket

Why are we – particularly the males among us – such creatures of habit when it comes to holidays?
In 1970, schoolboy Peter Campbell was given a Chopper as a reward for handing money he had found in the street

Chopper bikes are not my kind of retro

I'd like to see the return of black steel cycle clips rather than fiddly, reflective 'trouser bands'
Barclays are reducing the number of staff in their branches - and giving those remain ipads

A bag? In the bagging area? Whatever next?

There's an accusation of theft inherent in the robotic questions of self-checkout machines

Let's love all those tennis racquets languishing in the attic

Or perhaps it's just the kind of thing you expect to see up there, like parrot cages, golf bags and empty picture frames
Pope Francis has dismissed the five Italians who oversaw the Vatican's financial watchdog

It seems that some national caricatures are allowable... if they're complimentary

In the wake of a scandal, Pope Francis has dismissed the five Italians who oversaw the Vatican's financial watchdog, replacing them with a new board comprising only one Italian. Announcing the news on the Today programme James Naughtie put a subtle yet distinct emphasis on the word "Italians". He then interviewed the BBC's revered, earnest Rome correspondent, Alan Johnston, about the story. "They," Naughtie repeated, in reference to the five Italians, "were all Italian, and the replacements were not all Italian." If Johnston was considering saying, "We seem to be lumbering towards a national caricature here,"... he avoided the impulse. Instead, he coyly remarked, "Yes … interesting to note the nationalities involved." Still time to retreat from the brink? Apparently not. "It's part of this effort we're seeing," said Mr Johnston, "to break with this Italian business culture… which can be less than transparent."

From sausages to fish pie, a 30-year journey

On average, we eat five evening meals at home every week

The kindness of strangers: a highly charged issue

Last week, the European Parliament voted that, from 2017, all mobile phone chargers must be compatible with all mobile phones. It's as though the MEPs had been to our house, and inspected the boxful of old chargers, some Tipp-Exed with the initials of one son, some with the initials of another. One simply has a question mark. It is as if the MEPs had also joined me when, a few years back, I took the boys on a camping holiday to Cornwall. Leaving London, I realised I had forgotten my charger. The holiday lasted a week, and I spent three days of it driving around trying to buy a replacement. The shopkeepers would frown, "You're after a Nokia charger, you say?" After a while it became hard to keep the bitterness out of my voice as I replied, "Yes. Nokia. The largest manufacturer of mobile phones in the world."

David Bowie has been a virtuoso of fame since the early Seventies

The cool were at the Brits. The ultra-cool weren't

Some people – like David Bowie with his non-appearance at the awards – just know what they can get away with. Unfortunately some don't

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Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?