Robber needed money for polio-stricken cousin's surgery

First there were the three tenors - then came the bricklayer's son

Most singers would give their eye teeth to be hotly promoted by a record company, but a television documentary this week offers a chilling insight into the reality of life for opera's latest discovery, Roberto Alagna.

Jail break out foiled by staff

Prison staff have foiled a plan by two life prisoners to chisel their way out of a cell in Perth jail, one of Scotland's toughest institutions.

Skiing: Cooking of the highest order

Chalet girls (and boys) are shedding their amateur image. By Stephen Wood

Builders note improvements

Prospects for the construction industry are improving, although still fragile, according to a survey published yesterday by the Building Employers Confederation, writes Diane Coyle.

There's never been a better time to live under straw

A huge expansion in thatching services has driven roofing costs down. The only problem is telling the difference between a craftsman and a cowboy

S&N loses some sparkle as Hemmings calls it a day

Trevor Hemmings retired yesterday as a director of Scottish & Newcastle, depriving the brewer of one of its most successful entrepreneurs, perhaps its most reclusive board member and certainly its wealthiest employee.

Fordham flies through


This is the dream house that we built

But will anybody else want to buy it? By Jonathan Sale

Feedback: True gripes bass addicts

At around five o'clock one morning last week I was jolted awake by what felt like someone blasting a tape recorder loudly into my ear. Actually, it was a car that had stopped at traffic lights outside my partner's flat with music on at full volume and all the windows open. We had been woken by a very anti-social form of one of the inner-city's least likeable creations: the bass addict.


IT IS a wonderful thing to see Frank McGuinness's 1985 play, Observe the Sons of Ulster, originally produced in the Abbey Theatre's Dublin studio, given the full-scale, high-profile production it deserves. It's interesting, though, how dif- ferently it comes across in this context. It is a play about the Ulster Protestants who volunteered to fight in the First World War, confusing that fight with their own sectarian one in Ireland. Yet it was written by a Catholic, performed by a presumably predominantly Catholic cast and first seen in the Republic, thereby swathing all the patriotism and bigotry expressed by its characters in layers of irony. Watching it in Edinburgh in the aftermath of the ceasefire in Northern Ireland, you wonder how it comes across to those who don't know the background.

Littlewoods bid targets tough dynasty

Chris Blackhurst on the fight for a family's troubled inheritance

Four feared dead as building collapses

Two men died and two others were missing last night when a three-storey office block near Heathrow collapsed, just a day after a meeting on the site had discussed the structural safety of the building.

Towering over all their neighbours

A water tower must be the ultimate in high living. But converting one is no easy matter. Lesley Gillilan looks at two award-winning skyscrapers

I want flowers, fruit - and romance

"We have just moved into our first `owned' home. What sold us the house was its long (85ft) garden, which is bereft of plants except grass. The problem is: we're utterly daunted..."


A drill is probably a DIY enthusiast's best friend. Three amateurs and a builder find out which type is best
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No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor