News Chris Hadfield has agreed to take on the role of cultural ambassador for Ireland

Chris Hadfield, the singing astronaut and former commander of the International Space Station, has taken on a role as cultural ambassador for Ireland.

Album: Lou Reed

The Raven, Reprise

Rock star Gabriel tops film music poll

Meltdown: Mercury Rev, Royal Festival Hall, London

Masterfully constructed, the show astonishes because the band can continually scale new peaks

Meltdown: London Sinfonietta/ Alsop, Royal Festival Hall, London

Bowie in the looking glass

Album: David Bowie

Heathen, ISO/Columbia

Pop: Great covers 9. Marillion: Brave

In the beginning, Marillion went in for classic progressive sleeve design - clever-clever titles, visual puns, ersatz surrealism and a logo begging to be traced by 14-year-old boys. But when singer Fish left, they had to confront one of rock's trickier marketing problems: how to keep your loyal audience on-side while signalling to everyone else that your days of re-writing the early Genesis songbook are truly over?

It's the bin end of the week and Steely Dan are acting oddly. They're dying for a chinwag

At various points in a career dating back to the early Seventies, the founder members of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, have made it abundantly clear that interviews are a pleasure they rank right up there with wading barefoot through broken glass. Early on, in front of journalists, Becker and Fagen tended to be frozen-faced, taciturn, elliptical, dry and, occasionally, on a really good day, silent. This seemed entirely in keeping with their music - cool, elliptical, dry, altogether the opposite of a warm handshake and collusive smile. By 1980, when the band dissolved, they had given up on interviews altogether.

Tool Box: How to gauge the greenhouse effect

JOHN KEATS may have waxed lyrical about autumn but it's a season of hard work for the gardener. Falling leaves are just one reminder that winter is next on the agenda. Tumbling temperatures are a cause for concern when your garden's micro-climate becomes far more important than the broad pictures painted by the weather forecasters.

Tool Box: Solo on a bowsaw

LAST WEEK'S storm was vicious enough to rip branches off one of the ancient hawthorns that mark our southern boundary. The chainsaw was the lazy man's tool for the job of sawing them up, but this was an opportunity to combine exercise with a test of the Sandvik 9-24-51-KP.
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One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
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The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
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Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect