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.

The worst bout of flu ever, the worst poetry reading - in the world - ever, and the best of send-offs

Well, I'm sure glad that's over. I've just spent seven days of agony, stricken by this loathsome virus that's working its way through the metropolis, closing all the theatres in the West End (it attacks understudies, apparently, with a special fury) and turning every conversation in media- land into an antiphon of shared symptoms: "Yeah, I had it too. Yeah, all last week. Yeah, the chest infection. Honestly, I thought I was going to die ..."

AUNTIES UNITED

Journalists Eve Pollard, Clare Rayner and Anne Robinson among friends and former colleagues at a memorial service to the agony aunt Marjorie Proops.

NAPF chief proposes end to tax-free nest eggs

Anne Robinson, director general of the National Association of Pension Funds, yesterday courted controversy by suggesting that the Government scraps the 25 per cent tax-free lump sum paid to millions of people on retirement, in exchange for restoring tax breaks previously enjoyed by the pension fund industry, writes Nic Cicutti.

Folletts accept libel damages

Ken and Barbara Follett yesterday accepted undisclosed libel damages over a newspaper column which questioned the sincerity of their fund-raising activities for the Labour Party.

The horrific secrets of 25 Cromwell Street

The Gloucester victims: The 10 women and girls Frederick and Rosemary West are alleged to have murdered

Media frenzy as Rosemary West faces murder jury

Gloucester killings: Trial of builder's widow begins nine months after he committed suicide in his prison cell

Oh what a beautiful morning...

It's got to stop. Richard and Judy are tunnelling their way out and someone's got to stop them. A show like Get A Life! would be all very well for presenters like Esther Rantzen or Anne Robinson, whose dubious talents would remain safely unstretched by a comfy topic-related format combined with the opportunity to badger their audience. But Richard and Judy are like farmers - outstanding in their field - and the powers that be at This Morning (10.30am ITV) would be ill-advised to let them drift off into the vacuum of prime-time nonentity without putting up a fight.

And Norm is ever so grateful

So now it's OK to like Radio 2. But who are they, these Wogan fanciers, these Stewpot junkies? Do you know any? What kind of person tunes into Jimmy Young? Someone like Frances Line, as it happens. By Sue Gaisford

Press swamp public at West committal 1/36point

Amid massive media attention but only moderate public interest, the hearing that will decide whether Rosemary West will be committed for trial on 10 murder charges began yesterday. Scores of photographers and television cameramen outnumbered a small crowd of local people as Mrs West, 41, arrived for the hearing at Dursley magistrates' court, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, in a police van with blacked-out windows.

The love that dares to speak its name

"Big bubbly brunette seeks strapping guy, 17 to 25. Living people need not apply. Will provide big black roomy car for romantic getaways." "Middle-aged male seeks one-legged partner. Other leg optional, but must be removeable." "Young male seeks long coil of wire and full-length mirror. But hurry: one of us dies each week in the UK alone."

THE CHRONOLOGY: How the inquiry unfolded as the body count rose

The arrest of Frederick West triggered one of the biggest police investigations in recent times. West was detained on 25 February last year with his wife Rosemary by detectives investigating the disappearance of their daughter, Heather, last seen alive aged 16 in 1987.

How We Met: Anne Robinson and Paul Edmonds

Anne Robinson, 49, writes and presents Points of View and presents Watchdog for the BBC. She also writes for the Times and Today. Married to publisher Jonathan Penrose, she has a daughter, Emma, by her first husband, ex-Times editor Charles Wilson, and a dog, Maud Alabama.

Labour leader wants Mirror boss sacked

JOHN SMITH, leader of the Labour Party, is pressing the banks that control 54 per cent of Mirror Group Newspapers' shares to sack the group's chief executive, David Montgomery, the former editor of Today and the News of the World.

Media / Talk of the Trade: Mirror image

RICHARD STOTT, the sacked editor of the Daily Mirror, is wreaking revenge, re-creating the best features of the Mirror at Today. So far he has taken top writers (Alastair Campbell, Anne Robinson) and editing staff (its entire features bench), plus the women's editor, Mary Riddell. Mr Stott wants Today to aim at the mass middle market, between the Mirror and Daily Mail. February sales are estimated at 541,000, up 80,000 on a year ago. Today's political stance is to be independent: editorials already say that the Government is terrible, but that Labour has yet to provide the answer. A comment this week on television violence, praising the BBC 1 controller, Alan Yentob, has won Mr Stott new respect from broadcasters.
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Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

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How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

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Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
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Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

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