Sport In a stew: Downing is counting on a Cup win to build confidence

Being known as a "Cup team" is a mixed compliment, implying the ability to raise your game for one-off occasions, but never to sustain it. If Wigan Athletic, FA Cup winners relegated within a week, are newcomers to the genre, West Ham United have been at it rather longer.

Hurst strikes vexed note in oddball show

Mike Rowbottom finds the 1966 World Cup roadshow having some trouble attracting a crowd

diary : Free grog ... Lord Lumberjack ... spot the ball

Ahoy! Today the Captain brings you more exciting news from New Labour, the party for patriots. You may remember a certain lofty derision on the Left at a Tory suggestion that May Day should be replaced as a bank holiday by Trafalgar Day. But that was then. Now, and it warms an old Captain's heart to tell you, Nelson is New Labour. So much so that John Spellar, the shadow defence minister, has demanded to know what plans the Government has for 2005, the bicentenary of Trafalgar. And the scandalous answer: none. Spellar, mindful of "this great historical figure", demands that something be put in train before it is too late. He is open-minded about what. When the Captain puts forward his Big Idea - a free shot of grog for every man, woman and child in the country, he does not entirely rule it out, which no doubt means Mr Tony Blair will be on the blower shortly, telling him off. Meanwhile, in the interests of truth and curiosity, I telephone Labour HQ at Walworth Road to discover what plans the Party has to celebrate May Day this year. And the interesting answer: none. I'm finding it a bit difficult keeping up.

England closer to goal

Ian Ridley says that criticism of Terry Venables is both unfair and unhelpful

Ethelred ready to save England's day

St George's Day came and went last week and the backlog of unslain dragons continues to grow. This applies particularly in sport where he has long neglected his work and the thought is irresistible that if only England hounded their patron saint like they do their managers they might get some results of a more encouraging nature.

Hand over at Waterloo reunites Hurst and ball

Geoff Hurst was reunited yesterday with his hat-trick ball from the 1966 World Cup final. Unless, of course, it wasn't.

World Cup ball bounces back from '66

In a move that would delight every Euro-sceptic, England's World Cup winners of 1966 are asking the Germans: "Can we have our ball back?" With the 30th anniversary of English football's most famous day fast approaching, a frantic search has been launched for the ball with which Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick when Alf Ramsey's team beat Germany 4-2 in the World Cup final.

Hitch-hiker's guide to the Channel

Getting a lift via Le Shuttle is the easy part. Landing in France is another story. By Simon Calder


Michael Buerk knows all about rescues; 999 saved his career.

Bruno's flashback to the future

Harry Mullan questions the Briton's belief that he can alter the course of history

Tranmere lead chase for Rush signature

Tranmere Rovers, of the First Division, are preparing to move for the Liverpool striker Ian Rush.

The global village people down at Upton Park

Norman Fox assesses one club's attempts to stay ahead in a game of changing rules

CHRISTMAS radio Trumpton Riots

Trumpton Riots

England move with the times

INTERNATIONAL VERDICT: Venables' vision takes shape n Brown's basic appeal n Republic on the rocks n Wales await new blood


While the country's rugby union team continues to evoke national pride, its cricketers and footballers are still subject to endless speculation. After a topsy-turvy weekend, Independent writers test the temperature of our national games; Glenn Moore says poor technique and defensive confusion led to downfall of Vena bles' team at Wembley

Is Scargill the one to save the British apple? apple farmers

MY FRIEND Ken has been bemoaning the fate of Britain's apple farmers. Six thousand acres of orchards have been grubbed out this year, and the Cox has all but disappeared from southern England.
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
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Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform