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'Dear Leader' sips cognac as nation starves

Hard information about North Korea is hard to come by, but in the last few weeks one thing has become increasingly certain: after two years of floods and economic stagnation, the country is on the verge of famine. An American congressman who visited this month saw peasants living off hot water and last year's cabbage leaves.

A great day dawned with brandy, but ended a wake

Nobody could have foreseen this: the one day of the year where sport permeates every household in Britain being so catastrophically disrupted by terrorist action. From schoolchildren with their love of horses, to office "sweeps", to housewives sticking a pin into the racing pages, the Grand National exerts a hold on our popular consciousness like no other event. The question everyone will now be asking is, can it ever be the same again?

Travel: True or false: The brandy barrel carried by St Bernards in the Alps is a myth

True, according to the monks who still keep a 900-year-old hospice running at the top of the 8,114-ft pass of the Col de Grand St-Bernard.

Gascony

This tranquil pocket of French countryside is a haven for jangled nerves.

Dance: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, Northern Ballet Theatre, Grand Theatre, Leeds (0113 245 9351) 7 Dec, 2.30pm & 7.30pm, pounds 6-pounds 23, concessions availab le

Challenger for Hennessy

The Murphy's Gold Cup and Hennessy Gold Cup double could be on the cards for Challenger Du Luc, who heads the betting for Saturday's race along with Big Matt.

BEVERAGE REPORT: THIS ROUND'S NOT ON ME

This is a message from your bank manager - if you're a fan of very old spirits, and you find yourself in the vicinity of Dukes Hotel, be careful. Dukes, London's most discreet five-star hotel, has a rather sumptuous list of ancient Cognac, Armagnac, single-malt and vintage port. And it also sells them at stupifyingly sumptuous prices.

The Knack: How to tell a joke

Keep it short and don't attempt accents, says Jenny Eclair

Letter: Political spice

Sir: Norma Major a saucy Worcester Woman? ("Cookie war", 11 September.) Quick! Hand me a large Cherie brandy before I collapse!

Davies stays in touch

Laura Davies needed 50 minutes less to trim six shots off her opening effort in the second round of the US Women's Open Championship here yesterday.

The end of life as I know it

A HOLE has opened up in my life. Do you want to hear about it? So you shall. It's a deep yawning hole. A deep yawning black hole. What you'd call a pit of melancholy, a chasm of accidie, a gulf of gloom. Do you begin to get the picture of this hole? Good.

Oh crumbs!

Food

Letter: Under the influence of brandy

IN ORDER to be able to celebrate the Millennium, some time ago I reserved a bottle of 10-year-old cider brandy for release on 1 January, 2000. I do not intend to be deprived of this anticipated pleasure by Scotch would-be monopolists ("Ciderman raises fighting spirit", 3 December).

Solo yachtswoman sails to record

IAN MacKINNON

Urgent fax to Daniel Day-Lewis

To the actor reported to have ended his long-standing relationship by fax: a lesson in how to let a lady down politely
News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Vietnam & Cambodia
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Bruges
India & Nepal
Japan
Berlin, Dresden, Meissen & Colditz
Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?