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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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
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Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

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Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
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BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home