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.

Sport on TV: We are in alien territory if the England manager is successful

As the comedian Al Murray said on How To Be England Manager (BBC4, Wednesday): "The Americans must have an alien in a warehouse somewhere who could manage the England team." Given that winning a tournament is about as likely as the discovery of extra-terrestrial life, it could turn out a happy coincidence.

Old-school routes into medicine

Ancient institutions are in rude health for UK students

Pasty-faced, soap-dodging would-be troubadour Pete Doherty

Want to see a dirty movie? Not *that* kind

I fear that someone has been having our Gallic friends across la Manche on. Somehow, they've come to believe that the pasty-faced, soap-dodging would-be troubadour that is Pete Doherty is not only cool, but that he is a sensible choice for the romantic lead in a period film.

They come here... Chinese TV host rails against 'foreign trash

Presenter calls expelled reporter a bitch in nationalist rant about expatriate spies and liars

Racism, bullying, threats ... daily life of migrant workers

Study reveals inhuman conditions endured by those who are under the control of gangmasters
Deciphering the past: The Rosetta stone at the British Museum

Cracking The Egyptian Code: The Revolutionary Life Of Jean-François Champollion, By Andrew Robinson

Portrait of a quiet genius who revolutionised our understanding of the ancient world.

Top Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat suffers heart attack

A senior medical official says a top Palestinian peace negotiator has been hospitalized after suffering a heart attack.

Book of a Lifetime: Madame Bovary, By Gustave Flaubert

After sneaking onto a literature degree via a comprehensive, I found myself nonplussed by the rules and exclusions.

A little less conversation: Michael Parkinson talking to David Attenborough

Chat shows: Look who's talking

Everyone – politico, activist – seems to think they can play host. Luke Blackall points out that good conversation is an art

Government to unveil plan to improve NHS language skills

Doctors whose English is not up to scratch could be struck off amid fears that patients are being put at risk.

Tehran set for nuclear talks

Iran and six of the world's major powers, including the UK and US, prepared for rare talks yesterday aimed at easing fears that a deepening dispute over the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme could plunge the Middle East into a new war.

Holy Jihad, from the inside: Timothy Mo

Pure, By Timothy Mo

Just past the halfway mark in Timothy Mo's seventh novel, his heroine – a strapping Bangkok ladyboy who has joined a company of bloodthirsty Islamist warriors – wanders through a serene orchard on an island close to Singapore. Snooky's jihadi platoon (sanook = fun in Thai) has halted for a brief rest en route to help the insurgent Moros of the Philippines as fellow holy warriors. She (and for all the unwanted testosterone that jungle warfare brings, Snooky's chosen pronoun never wavers) samples the fruit of the ebony tree. It is not dark and dense like the wood, but pale, delicate and enigmatic: "tart and sweet in the same mouthful, soft but crunchy... If marzipan dormice grew on trees... they would taste like this". If this moment smacks of Eden, and forbidden fruit, it also helps initiate Snooky into the mysteries of the jihadi pursuit, where darkness yields to light, stark contradictions resolve themselves, and chaste perfection grows from the crooked timber of humanity.

Lindsay Hawker's father 'relieved' as killer Tatsuya Ichihashi loses sentence appeal

The father of a English teacher murdered in Japan today spoke of his relief after her killer lost an appeal against his life sentence.

Barney McKenna, the founder of the Dubliners

Barney McKenna: Founding member of the Dubliners

When they made Barney, they broke the mould," said fiddle player John Sheahan shortly after hearing of the sudden death of Barney McKenna, his close friend and much-loved musical colleague in The Dubliners for nearly half a century.

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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
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before