News The Houses of Parliament illuminated at night

Battersea have drawn up a list of their top mousers

Comedy Moments: No way to treat a heckler

Our monthly series in which comedians reflect on funny moments in their lives finds the effervescent Adam Bloom dealing with a heckler in an unusual fashion.

The Independent Recommends: Theatre

BRIAN FRIEL'S tricksy reflection on the Troubles, Volunteers, has been given the belated premiere it richly deserves by Mick Gordon, who wrings every drop of bitter comedy from this tale of five internees wisecracking and breaking ranks on an archeological dig. The Gate has been transformed into a boggy site, providing an earthy counterpoint to the many high-flown observations.

The Saturday Profile: Helen Mirren, Actress - The drama queen of England

WHEN I told people that I was writing this profile of Helen Mirren, the most common reaction was a snort of disgust. "Oh God, more excuses to run pictures of sexy old Helen," said one woman. "Why? She's the most written about woman in England," said a theatre type. Nor could anyone resist pointing out that she likes the odd nude scene. "You know the one thing that you can count on with her," said another man, eyes aglint, "is that she always takes her kit off." And then, finally and always on cue, came the discussion about whether those really were her legs in the Virgin ad.

Top black policeman fights racism in the Met

A RADICAL new approach to crimes of racial hatred will dramatically improve the poor standing of the Metropolitan Police, according to Britain's most senior black police officer.

Plenty of room for improvement

If you love where you live but feel it's too small, consider an extension, says Gwenda Joyce-Brophy

Bastien & Bastienne

The appropriation of Mozart's very early operas has been a healthy trend already this year, with stagings for Lucia Silla and Apollo et Hyacinthus. BAC'S new production of the singspiel Bastien and Bastienne (above), composed when Mozart was only 12, should follow suit. The piece was commissioned by none other than Franz Anton Mesmer, as part of an entertainment for his circle of enlightened intimates. Further Enlightenment comes from the fact that the libretto is an adaptation of one, by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Plus, uncannily, the theme of the little Overture is identical to that of the first movement of Beethoven's Eroica. Award- winning director Maggie Forsyth produces the piece as the culmination of an intensive four-day "open process', working with the cast of three, and with a "unique twist" promised as well

KNOW THE SCORE: Schoenberg's `Pierrot Lunaire'

1912 in Paris: Igor Stravinsky is working on one mighty example of musical High Modernism, The Rite of Spring - a ritualistic ballet scored for huge symphony orchestra. At the same time in Berlin, and by means of a soprano speaker and just five instruments, Arnold Schoenberg (above) is contributing his own no less radical addition to musical history, in the form of his extraordinary Expressionist song cycle, Pierrot Lunaire.

Shopping: Shop Talk

ENSURE YOUR party goes with a swing by ordering a vodka luge from The Ice Box. Sit back, open-mouthed, while a vodka shot is launched from the top of your personally sculpted ice chute, carved in any shape from a mountainside to a human torso. If this is too much to contemplate, the company will carve your name in ice, design a corporate logo or simply "freeze" a thought. And in the unlikely event that you run short of ice this summer it provides a rapid-response delivery service of ice cubes within the central London area. Vodka luges cost from pounds 50 and corporate logos from pounds 200.

Comedy: Growing pains

Bruce Morton is doing the bravest thing a stand-up comedian can do - he is giving up stand-up. At least for a while. Rather, he is currently performing Blood Below the Window, a narrative, closer to theatre than stand-up, about his own process of growing up.

Lord, forgive them

The Deborah Ross Interview; Martin (Lord Noel-Buxton to you) is an endangered species. He lost all his money, nearly drank himself to death and is a bit vague about Hague (`Who?'). For some odd reason, people want him out of Parliament (along with all the

weather wise

DRUG traffickers, of all people, are being blamed for the bizarre clouds of smoke and fumes that have been blanketing much of Texas in the past week. The smoke has reduced visibility to as little as three miles in some areas. People have been warned to stay indoors as much as possible, and the elderly and children are thought to be particularly at risk from respiratory problems triggered by the toxic haze.

Performing theatrical miracles


Jongleurs April comedy highlights

This month, two of the Jongleurs venues are hosting special nights in aid of Help A London Child on Thur 2 April:

Schools: From truants to voters

"There is not so much fighting and jumping around anymore. I like being in class more because we get to go outside and we get to make the school better. I liked what we did today and I think I am learning what it means to be a good citizen."

Wednesday's ticket

Samuel Beckett's existential wonderings are finding growing favour as the idiom for the new millenium. Leap of Faith has a new production of Beckett's Happy Days at the Battersea Arts Centre in London from Feb 10. Amanda Bellamy will tackle the mystifying role of Winnie as she speaks from within her tower of sand to her similarly constrained husband, making general natterings and fumbling around in her handbag - the simple means through which Beckett brings his positive nihilism to light.
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone