Life and Style Shaken, not stirred: a pre-dinner martini

The aperitif is back, the aperitif is in. At Simon Rogan's joint in the Midland Hotel, Manchester, a guy in a bomber jacket breaks off a conversation with his date, "I'll have Just a Splash – that cocktail with Aperol and Prosecco," he says to the barman.

Briton amongst dead in Thai disco blaze

A British man has been confirmed as one of four people killed when a fire swept through a nightclub in Thailand.

Torch-bearer with a flair for languages

A teenager who carried the Olympic Torch days before he sat his A-level exams said he was overjoyed at getting three A* grades and two As.

Landmarks of lubricity: Film adaptation of 'Fanny Hill'

Boyd Tonkin: Fifty Shades has topped all records - but rude books often lead the way

With straining limbs, tensed muscles and sweaty skin, toned bodies stretch and push towards the summits of physical endeavour, sometimes helped on by arcane technological aids but always urged towards their goal by an excited audience of millions. They break through the pain barrier and, after drawn-out minutes of suffering and constraint, hit that longed-for peak and collect the reward of a massive rush of endorphins. Yes, it's been a fabulous summer for EL James and Fifty Shades of Grey. I will leave it to the historians – or perhaps psychoanalysts – to tease out the connections between Olympic frenzy and the unstoppable popularity of James's SM trilogy. Every day, it seems, new records tumble.

Britain's pivot Robin Garnham shoots during the men's preliminary Group A handball match Great Britain vs Argentina

Welcome to the wacky world of handball

Jerome Taylor spends a day at the Copper Box stadium watching the surprising (and slightly sticky) hit sport that's got British fans hooked

A lot of huffing and puffing but HuffPo has yet to find its niche

After the grand fanfare from Arianna Huffington, I've been slightly disappointed by the impact of her eponymous website since its arrival in the United Kingdom a year ago.

Simon Kelner: Fun in Games is stranger than this ludicrous reality

Sometimes real life imitates art. BBC2 comedy series Twenty Twelve, a spoof documentary about the preparations for London 2012 set in the fictional Olympic Deliverance Commission, has just returned for a short run ahead of the Games.

Al-Qa'ida 'online propaganda expert' arrested in Britain

A London man has been arrested on suspicion of helping to design and publish online propaganda for an al-Qa'ida offshoot behind an electronic magazine credited with spreading the group’s ideology and its terrorist tactics around the globe.

The Week in Books: Will the BRICS make our books? Slowly, global publishing turns a new page

Maybe it's a remnant from an encyclopaedia-browsing childhood (or just early exposure to the Guinness Book of Records), but I still love chunky illustrated reference books – a taste for bulky blocks of print incompatible with the price per square foot of property anywhere in southern England. Earlier this year, I bought Dorling Kindersley's wonderful History Year by Year – nugget after shiny nugget of the human past over the millennia, all the way from the Great Rift Valley in Kenya to Silicon Valley in California. Checking the credits page, I found that the smart design work on this multi-handed monument of editing came from India, where publishers now often outsource not just routine office functions but almost every skilled task. DK began to operate in India even before the reference giant was swallowed by Penguin in 2000.

160,000 back student Richard O'Dwyer in legal fight

More than 160,000 people have signed a petition launched by the founder of internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia to block the extradition of a British student to the US on copyright charges.

School's textbook exam blunder

Fifty gifted students were disqualified from an exam after teachers mistakenly told them they could take books in with them.

Wayne Rooney is substituted by Fabio Capello during last year's Euro Qualifier against Wales

Fabio Capello appears critical of England striker Wayne Rooney with quip 'he must only speak Scottish'

Fabio Capello has made a thinly veiled dig at Wayne Rooney's below-par form for England at Euro 2012 by joking that the striker must only understand "Scottish" because he "only plays well in Manchester".

Michael Gove plans to scrap GCSEs and bring back tougher O-levels

The Education Secretary wants pupils to start studying for more difficult exams from 2012

The Twelve Caesars, By Matthew Dennison

Rome's first dozen emperors covered the spectrum of humanity. A vigorous new history restores them to life.

The ads feature a foreign man walking into a café and then sitting down with three young Egyptians

Egypt's on-air warning: Don't talk to foreigners – they're all spies

Human rights activists warn TV adverts aimed at stopping journalists from covering abuses

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Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
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The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
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Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
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Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
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Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave 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
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Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
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Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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