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."

A SIGN OF GOOD BUSINESS

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 TO GIVE TRAIL TO SPORTING LISBON WINGER

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

INSIDE THE HOUSE OF KRISHNA

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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore