Arts and Entertainment

Liz Jones is a beacon of normality when cloistered with Dappy and co   

Sales roar ahead as balmy weather drives DIY fans barmy

Britain's leading DIY retailers have reported buoyant trading over the Easter weekend boosted by the good weather. B&Q, Sainsbury's Homebase and Do-It-All said sales had been better than expected with sales of lawn mowers, garden furniture and painting and decorating equipment all strong. Easter is always a key time for the DIY superstores though retailers had been cautious ahead of this weekend as Easter fell early. "All the signs are that we've had a very good Easter," said Ross McLaren, managing director of Sainsbury's Homebase. "It has not been a record weekend but sales are up on last year. The good weather has certainly helped."


Autograph collecting is big business with the most prized trophies going for as much as pounds 14,000. Michael Booth joins the queue to own a name

cooler than london...

Newport the new Seattle? They don't think so in Beccles. Or Great Yarmouth. The title of trendiest town is hotly contested, says Emma Cook

Girls leave the boys trailing in GCSEs

Girls' schools have increased their share of the top positions in this year's league table of leading independent schools' GCSE results. All of the top 10 schools are girls-only, as are 17 out of the top 20.

The top 30 independent schools

School No of Av Ucas

dilemmas; Generation gap

Divorced, 43 and with two teenagers, Clem is in love with a devoted, kind young man of 25 who virtually lives with her and is very anxious to marry her. They've been together for 18 months and he says it doesn't matter if they can't have children. But when he's 50, Clem will be over 70. Would he still care, she asks? And would this be the right move for him?

under-dressed, over the top and over here

The US craze for table dancing clubs - where punters buy their very own striptease - has now arrived in Britain. A new entertainment, or just old-fashioned exploitation? asks Lucy O'Brien


Aston Villa are to give a trial to Antonio Pacheco, the 28-year- old Sporting Lisbon winger. Villa are applying for international clearance to play him in a reserve match at Leicester on Monday.

Pizza: a slice of lifestyle

Busy - or lazy - Nineties consumers like their favourite fast food brought to the doorstep. But there are some things the staff find hard to stomach. Esther Oxford meets the workers who deliver the goods

L A W R E P O R T; Housing association can provide accommodation for the homeless

Regina v Hertsmere Borough Council, Ex parte Woolgar Queen's Bench Division (Sir Louis Blom-Cooper QC) 3 May 1995

Theme park plan for BBC

Pearson studies feasibility of `EastEnders' studio attraction

How to spot a true oddball

A new study identifies 15 characteristics that define eccentrics. Sally Holloway consults a noted example As the chaotic state of his mind-bogglingly untidy work shed testifies, John Ward loves pulling things apart


ONE OF the longest-running feuds in Britain - the battle of Bhaktivedanta Manor - may finally be approaching its conclusion. It began in 1973, when George Harrison, hardly a typical Home Counties villager himself, donated his 19th-century mock-Tudor manor to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon). A community of shaven-headed mystics moved in, and the villagers of Letchmore Heath, in Hertfordshire, threw up their hands in horror. Then, it seemed a simple battle. Objections were raised about noise, traffic, crowds and amenities, but the real issues were more more basic, more fundamental: it was the exotic east versus the xenophobic west; Hindu spirituality versus stolid English rural traditionalism. But time has clouded the picture, hardening positions but also confusing them. The manor is now revered by Hindus as a temple - one of the most sacred outside India. Most of the villagers who originally objected have moved out: today,three-quarters of the 220 or so inhabitants of Letchmore Heath are newer to the village than Iskcon. And, after countless thousands of newspaper column inches, the 22-year-old dispute has become an English rural tradition in its own right.

Loan system fails struggling mother

JACKIE BIDWELL, a lone parent, found that trying to get money for a new mattress for her 10-year-old son from the Social Fund was like getting blood out of a stone, writes Martin Whitfield.

Court bid to bring back Elstree's golden days

It would take all the film industry's powers of illusion to evoke the glamorous heyday of Elstree studios from the disused buildings and rubble that are its legacy.
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Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own