Smart meters: are they the answer to big bills?

A small gadget, already in many homes, shows exactly how much energy you are using and helps you cut back. Nargis Ahmad and Julian Knight report

Double killer stabbed to death 'in revenge attack'

A man aged 20 who was jailed for killing two friends in a car crash has been murdered in what may have been a revenge attack. Dwayne Ayres was stabbed to death in the village of Hook, Hampshire, after a group burst into the house where he was staying early yesterday morning.

You write the reviews: Big Star, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Back in the early Seventies, Big Star made their mark on the post-Sixties landscape with their brand of melodic, melancholy pop, and were described by the rock critic Jason Ankeny as the "quintessential American power- pop band". Alex Chilton, formerly a teenybopper pin-up with the Box Tops, had teamed up with Chris Bell, an old mate from his home town of Memphis, Tennessee, to join a band called Icewater. He changed the name to Big Star, and in 1972 they made a debut album, # 1 Record, that was acclaimed as a masterpiece. But it was heard by virtually no one on account of abysmal distribution.

County Championship round-up: Ervine damages Durham's title chances

Sean Ervine guided Hampshire to a surprise victory at Basingstoke as Durham wasted a chance to go top of the County Championship First Division. Ervine's 94 not out guided Hampshire home by two wickets as they chased down 240.

Parents' lies crushed our world, say sons of 'dead' canoeist

The sons of John Darwin, the canoeist who faked his own death, faced their mother in court yesterday, saying she betrayed them with elaborate lies about their father's apparent demise.

Hundreds more housebuilding jobs axed

Hundreds more housebuilding job cuts were announced today as Bovis Homes and Redrow became the latest to outline efforts to combat the property slump.

Mark Steel: Beware – the rail companies are out to get you

Modern train ticket collectors do a marvellous job. Coming back from Bristol to London, one of them told me: "Because this is a non-saver train, I'll have to charge you an additional £69." And he didn't flinch, collapse into hysterics or even blush. He must regularly face the same bemused grimace whenever he says those words, a stare no different to the one he'd face if he said: "Sorry sir, because this is a non-transferrable Quicksave ticket, I'll have to sleep with your daughter."

Body in suitcase: suspect charged

Detectives charged a man yesterday with the murder of polish woman found in a suitcase on the outskirts of a wealthy village.

Point-to-point: Quick to continue revival in Devon National

Five meetings, two today and three tomorrow, have been rescheduled following last weekend's snow.

Ask Annie: How safe will my cash be in exotic exchange-traded funds?

Q. I am attracted to exchange-traded funds by their low cost and flexibility, but am cautious given the underperformance of other investment products such as with-profits funds and split-capital trusts.

PsychoGeography #71: Strange weeds and flying Dutchmen

I ONCE visited the Netherlands three times in one year, which frankly is pushing it. The third time I went I was met by a Dutchman at the airport. We were queuing to get a car-park ticket when I dropped the English Sunday newspaper I'd been reading and its 37 property sections flooded across the floor. One of a pair of burly fellows who were behind us in the queue muttered to his companion "zwaar", and they both dissolved into low church giggles. As I picked up the newsprint I asked my Dutchman, "What does that mean?" And he replied, "Heavy". That to me encapsulates the Dutch sense of humour: the pratfall is conceived of as ironic. It's a form of Little Country Blues that's oddly endearing.

Sporting digest: Ice hockey

Coventry Blaze extended their lead at the top of the Elite League with a 4-2 win over third-placed Cardiff Devils on Saturday.

Shire hit by safety worries over Alzheimer's treatment

US drug regulators will examine data this week which shows a higher death rate among elderly people trialling Shire Pharmaceuticals' Alzheimer's disease drug, Reminyl.

Basingstoke's medallion man goes on trial for attempt to assassinate Pablo Escobar

When David Tomkins appears before a court in Miami next week it could bring to a close an astonishing story which pitted the medallion man from Basingstoke in a deadly battle against the world's most feared drugs baron.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
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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
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'