Voices

Moving house really brings you up to speed with the state of customer service in modern-day Britain. For the past two weeks I have been waging an almost constant war, via Twitter, email and phone, to get companies to do the simplest things like turn up on time (or even on the right day), deliver the correct item or offer help over the phone in something resembling human. I am fortunate in that I am a very minor celebrity with a healthy amount of Twitter followers. Time and again, the moment I tweeted my grievances the managing director or head of customer care would be in touch within 15 minutes promising to solve the problem. This is brilliant for me, but it's a sad state of affairs that problems that are easily solved can only be dealt with because I once dressed as a large squirrel.

Cover Stories: Peter Leonard; Alastair Campbell's new novel

* The debut crime novel by Peter Leonard, Quiver, will be launched by Faber on 2 October and is already being touted as one of their books of the year. But why has the author waited until he is 57 to publish a book? Early criticism from his dad can't have helped: he once described his son's early characters as "like strips of leather drying in the sun" – and when your dad is Elmore Leonard, the "Dickens of Detroit", that's hard. Fortunately, early reviews of Leonard Jnr's first work are much more positive: it has "a filmic style that is reminiscent of the Coen brothers and Tarantino", says one.

Rebecca Tyrrell: 'It's a JFK/Diana moment in our home. Yes, Carol Vorderman has departed from Countdown'

I don't think I will ever forget Matthew's animal yelp of distress as he read a two-day old English newspaper in a Greek taverna on the tiny, peaceful island of Poros. "Sweet Lord Jesus, no," he wailed. "What have they done? God damn them all to hell, what have they done?"

Weakest Link's Anne Robinson banned from driving

Weakest Link television presenter Anne Robinson was banned from driving for six months today after admitting her fourth speeding offence.

Sooty: his place in history

He was bought last week for £1m. But did you know his birthday tribute to Nelson Mandela is the most popular? Or that he always has a hand in the key moments in our national life? By Cole Moreton

Sport on TV: Life in the fast and furious lane of swinging Sixties

A certain young Englishman may have got us all watching Formula One again, but it's hard not to conclude that the golden era was the Sixties, when Graham Hill bestrode the world like a cross between Ayrton Senna and, er, Leslie Phillips.

If women ruled the world

With Spain's government now female-dominated, the proposition no longer seems hypothetical. Six writers imagine what life would be like

Fond farewell to the genius of Miles Kington

The difference between wisdom and knowledge, according to the late, great humorist writer Miles Kington, is that knowledge consists of knowing that tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Bong! A change of tune at Westminster

Today, the bells that chime the quarter hours at the Houses of Parliament will fall silent for the first time in 50 years in order to undergo repairs. Cahal Milmo talks to the Keeper of the Great Clock

Accept rescue plan or face bankruptcy, warns Eurotunnel chief

Eurotunnel, the debt-ridden Channel Tunnel operator, finally unveiled its latest rescue plan yesterday, coupled with a warning that unless shareholders and bondholders backed the deal it would mean bankruptcy.

Prescott quits grace-and-favour residence

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, bowed to growing pressure over his use of a grace and favour residence last night and announced that he was to give up Dorneywood.

Philip Hampton & Bryan Sanderson: The constitution is dead, but the EU moves on

We have set up a group to articulate pro-European business sentiment in Britain

Giles' fortunes revived after 'breakdown' of Weakest Link

The battling left-armer was delighted to prove his critics wrong in England's Ashes success, says David Llewellyn

Dom Joly: Kate Bush may like hamsters, but I believe the world is the poorer for it

I loved the whole Babushka, Heathcliff, Peter Gabriel hugging thing she had. She's wasting her life down here

What's wrong with a little indolence?

There is, at time of writing, an even-money chance that you will not read these words. Evidently I have started, but lacking the resolve of an Icelandic-born quiz master there is no guarantee that I will finish.
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before