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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No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor