Travel

Mons is embracing the future as it prepares for its role as next year’s European Capital of Culture, but it’s also steeped in intriguing history. Philip Sweeney explores its two sides

Best of 2014: Radio preview

Fiona Sturges picks this year's must-hear radio

The five new coin designs which will go into circulation on 1st January 2014

Royal Mint unveils new coins commemorating historic British anniversaries in 2014

Lord Kitchener will appear on the new £2 coin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War

Michael Gove visits Durand Academy School in Stockwell in 2011

Michael Gove on Radio 4: Doesn't a discussion about teaching History need a teacher on the panel?

The BBC should be doing much more to take schoolteaching seriously

Fiona Bruce's Antiques Roadshow ‘hunch’ leads to discovery of lost £400,000 Van Dyck masterpiece

The presenter said she recognised details of the supposed ‘fake’, bought for just £400 from her work on a programme about the 17th century master

The News Matrix: Thursday 26 December 2013

Lib Dem attacks law on fox hunting

A US Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan

David Cameron to oppose EU 'drones club' on visit to Brussels

A plan for the European Union to develop its own drone programme will be strongly opposed by David Cameron at a summit of EU leaders in Brussels today.

Outraged of Tunbridge Wells, Edited by Nigel Cawthorne - Review

Kenneth Gregory’s 1983 collection of letters to The Times, The First Cuckoo, is a classic; then in the past few years we’ve had a steady supply of loo books, essentially compilations of unpublished readers’ letters to various publications to stuff into Christmas stockings. Now, the British Library habitue, Nigel Cawthorne, has mined the archives to find the best letters in the “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” vein. They all come from the same paper, the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser, from the beginning of the 20th century to the mid-Fifties, so we don’t get the pleasure of Tunbridge Wells residents harrumphing about contemporary issues, Sir Herbert Gussett-style, that we might expect.

Radio Days: The golden age of AM is long gone but it’s cherished by many Americans

Turning up the voice of America

The warm crackle and hiss of AM radio lives on in the US, and is about to get a boost that could put it back at the heart of communities

Premier League to donate new football pitch at Ypres to commemorate 'Christmas Truce' match during First World War

The Premier League is to donate a floodlit football pitch to mark the centenary of the Christmas Truce match which saw British and German troops play each other during the First World War.

Turning the Tide: The Life of Lady Rhondda, By Angela V John: Book review - a Welsh wonder who rode the first waves of feminism

Margaret, Lady Rhondda, was an improbable revolutionary. A socially elitist millionaire who lived next to the Ritz, she threw herself, and her money, into promoting women's equality in politics, in print and (briefly) in gaol. Angela John's excellent biography is thus to be welcomed warmly.

Books of the year 2013: War

Private Alex Stringer, of the Royal Logistic Corps, was 20 when he was blown up in Afghanistan: "The reason I lost my left leg so high up is because the burning paint cooked my left leg all the way down to the bone. But if I hadn't set myself on fire, I would have bled out and died – as a result of it, all the arteries became cauterised".

A biopic of JRR Tolkien's life is said to be in the pipeline

JRR Tolkien film biopic set for silver screen

The Lord of the Rings trilogy made billions of dollars at the box office and now the story of the author who created those fantasy worlds is to be brought to the silver screen.

Paperback review: Her Privates We, by Frederic Manning

Frederic Manning, an Australian writer who settled in Britain in 1903, was little known before this fictionalised account of his experiences in the trenches was published in 1930, attracting praise from Hemingway and E M Forster. But while the wartime poetry of Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke has become lodged in the collective consciousness, Manning’s extraordinary novel, reissued here by Serpent’s Tail, remains somewhat obscure.

Afro-American singer Josephine Baker

Black music: The European connection

Queen Victoria was a fan – and an African superstar’s grandfather an early performer. John Clarke looks back at the hidden history of Europe’s links to black singers and performers

Jones: 'her memory and intellect remained undimmed,' said her local MP, Simon Hughes

Grace Jones: Britain's oldest person, who worked as a seamstress and a civil servant until her retirement in the 1960s

Grace Jones was the oldest person in Britain and the last person in this country to have been born in the 1800s, during the reign of Queen Victoria. Her 113 years of life encompassed the invention of the aeroplane, the development of electronic communications and two world wars. She was the sixth oldest person in the world.

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Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
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By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

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Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
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Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
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New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

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Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
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New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

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Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

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Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
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Grandvalira Skiing, Andorra
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Prices correct as of 31 October 2014
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes