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The stellar explosion is the closest to be spotted since 1987 and will provide a 'galactic yardstick' for astronomers judging distances across the universe

Album: Seasick Steve, Man from Another Time (Atlantic)

Recorded live on old-style analogue equipment, Man from Another Time is typically enjoyable, though not quite as potent as the quarter-million-selling I Started Out with Nothing and I've Still Got Most of It Left – despite Steve's lo-fi ringing of the changes, with his trusty "three-string trance wonder" guitar set aside occasionally in favour of slide licks played on a homemade cigar-box guitar ("Happy"), and more primitive still, the single-string device whose construction is explained and demonstrated in "Diddley Bo".

David Prosser: Recessionary woes flatten the Footsie

Outlook: Close, but no cigar. For much of yesterday morning, the FTSE 100 flirted with its 2009 high, only for disappointing economic data from the US to prompt a modest sell-off.

Letters: Anger at proposed vetting procedures

Authors angered by vetting for child abuse

Alice Jones: High rollers and the fate of fat cigars

Havana Notebook

Were the Seventies the Golden Age of television?

My children are probably fed up with me telling them that there were no means of recording TV programmes when I was their age: no video recorders or DVD players or Sky+. When I add that until I was 13 I also watched everything in black-and-white, they look at me sympathetically, as if I was telling them that I was brought up in a workhouse on one bowl of gruel a day. But that's how it was. If circumstances prevented you from missing your favourite programme, circumstances sometimes as prosaic as your dad wanting to watch whatever was on the other "side" (we never said "channel" in those days), then you were stuffed. There were programmes I missed in the 1970s that I'm only catching up on now, thanks to UK Gold and ITV4.

My Mentor: Clive Aslet on Max Hastings

'Max could write leaders while smoking a cigar and speaking to cabinet ministers'

Paperbacks: The Essential Groucho, edited by Stephen Kanfer

This addition to Penguin Modern Classics may be a startling choice but Woody Allen is in favour: "[He] will be equally funny a thousand years from now."

Paperbacks: Churchill's Cigar, by Stephen McGinty

An ingenious idea brilliantly realised, this is a book-length footnote, but it is far more readable and enjoyable than the massive tomes it annotates.

Off Duty: Tampa

Why the capital of Florida cool is coming into its own

Paperback: A Florentine Death, By Michele Giuttari, trans Howard Curtis

Sicilian-born Michele Giuttari turned to crime writing when his day job, running Flo- rence's Anti-Mafia Squad, led to more death threats than was sensible. His best-selling debut is grounded in authentic police procedure and the seedier realities of Florentine life. Like his creator, Chief Superintendent Ferrara is a fiftysomething Sicilian with black hair and a weakness for cigars and Montalcino red. As head of the Squadra Mobile he is faced with solving a series of random murders linked to the antiques trade. Howard Curtis's sleek translation complements Giuttari's capable prose.

Cigar case pilfered from Iraq returns to haunt Johnson

Boris Johnson is fuming about a police investigation into how he became the owner of a red leather cigar case that once belonged to Saddam Hussein's former deputy Tariq Aziz.

Weird and wonderful: the facts about Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro is retiring after almost half a century as leader of Cuba, leaving in his wake some fascinating facts:

Nick Foulkes: The ultimate status symbol – a cigar you can't smoke

Today's trophy-hunting a laborious affair

Man in the Chair (12A)

Christopher Plummer's performance as an alcoholic stumblebum and one-time Hollywood gaffer has been hailed, though it could hardly be in acknowledgement of its realism.

Ukraine accuses Russia of inciting new 'Crimean war'

Ukraine has accused Russia of stirring up anti-US and anti-Nato protests on the Crimean peninsula where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power