News The Houses of Parliament illuminated at night

Battersea have drawn up a list of their top mousers

Style and Design: Items and Icons fountain pens

For most of us, the very mention of fountain pens conjures up images of ink-stained hands and smudged copy books from first attempts at joined-up writing. But signing your credit card bill with a flourish of a 14ct gold nib makes a much better impression than a bashed up Biro that has been sitting around for months. Fountain pens, as they are known today, were first introduced to the market by the New Yorker L E Waterman in 1884, though some less practical models were in existence in the 18th century, most notably that which belonged to the French mathematician Bion, covered in hard wax. The actual components of fountain pens have not changed dramatically over the decades, with most advancements being made in materials and the method of the supply of ink to the nib, such as vacuum pumps and cartridges.

Comedy: Blue is the colour

Canadian comedian Mike Wilmot has braved a PC backlash to bring his `bright blue' act to town

Wednesday's tickets

The Brand New Heavies are the classiest soul funk act of the Nineties and The Independent has two pairs of tickets to give away. The gig takes place 16 December at Battersea Power Station. For information about other live music and events in the Midland '97 Entertainment Village, ring 0870 9080 888.

Cafe Society: Are you sitting comfortably?

A largely undiscovered gem of a restaurant lurks in Lavender Hill's wastelands. Sofa so good

Comedy: WIN A NIGHT AT JONGLEURS

Jongleurs opened its third London venue, at Bow Wharf, last month. Forthcoming acts include

Fickle owners and affluence make a dog's life deeply hairy

Where have all the Rottweilers gone? Graham Ball on victims of pet fads

Firm faces action for selling contact lenses by mail order

A company selling contact lenses by direct mail is to be prosecuted for failing to provide customers with adequate supervision. The General Optical Council decided it would take legal action against Vision Direct and its directors for selling cut-price contact lenses without the supervision of a qualified doctor or optician.

Gordon takes a fiscal break for Gordon

Captain Moonlight

Letter: Luxury city - for some

Luxury city

Architecture: Arise Lord Rogers. Arise Battersea

Richard Rogers, everybody's favourite architect (especially Blair's) is a man with a plan or two. Plans for the Millennium, plans for the Government and his place in it and, oh yes, for a fabulous place on the Thames. By Peter Popham

Election `97: Fayed helicopter transports Blair

Tony Blair yesterday flew from London to Derby in a helicopter owned by the proprietor of Harrods, Mohamed Al Fayed, the man at the heart of the "cash for questions" allegations.

First Night: Exit in confusion as critics savage plays directed by the critics

First Night: The Critics - Up For Review BAC, London

Cries & whispers

Hey hey, it's your press tickets! Or not. Just in case you're wondering why my esteemed colleague Nicholas Barber has not seen fit to review the Monkees, it's because the organisers are suddenly unable to provide any tickets. Could this be due to the hostile initial notices from critics who, let's face it, are never too busy singing to put anybody down? David Cheal, writing in the Telegraph, called the Monkees gig "ramshackle, disjointed ... strange and distressing". Max Bell in the London Evening Standard concurred: "awful spectacle ... lumbered from one disastrous song to another ... a truly tawdry and depressing evening." It's enough the make the most robust impresario think twice. But the sudden withdrawal of press tickets has nothing to do with negative reviews, say the organisers. Heavens, no! Fact is that the gigs are going so well that they'd rather every last ticket went to The Fans. They're sure we understand. We do, we do ...

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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