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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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?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital