Arts and Entertainment

The comic's aggressive style does not match his true self, finds Gerard Gilbert

On The Road: An icy plunge into moorland waters in Dartmoor

"Ehaahhhhhhh." An open-mouthed, barely audible inhalation of breath signifies my arrival knee-deep in the chill waters of the River Dart. I stand there gazing down into water the colour of best bitter, with the tops of my legs turning schoolgirl mottled pink.

Jelly: it's not just for children

Once, it was just for children's tea parties. Now the trembling treat is being reclaimed as a delectable grown-up summer dessert. Gerard Gilbert reports

Consuming Issues: Does it matter if Tesco sells lager for 29p a pint?

Everyone likes a bargain; it's appealing to pick up a slab of beer for a few pounds. That's why the grocers slash the price of packs of Stella and Carlsberg and why people like me (occasionally, in my case) buy them. What's not in the price of these deals, though, is their true cost.

Margareta Pagano: Gold should be like Martini; anytime, anyplace, anywhere

Tricky times mean the precious metal is hard to find

A bar in your home is just the tonic

Seventies outré style ruined the reputation of the domestic drinks cabinet, but they are becoming fashionable once again

Brian Viner: How about none for the road?

My daughter Eleanor turns 17 the day after tomorrow, which means that she will soon be learning to drive. She can't wait for the L-plates, but most of all she can't wait to shed them. Several of her mates have already passed their driving tests and, during the long afternoons set aside for A/S-level revision, have taken to calling round in their mums' Clios or Fiestas, whisking Elly off to talk about Peter the Great or, more likely, Peter, the great-looking young farmer, over a milkshake at the American-style diner on the A44.

Shed Your Tears And Walk Away (NC)

Gin Lane lives. Documentary film-maker Jez Lewis returns to his hometown of Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, where many friends of his childhood are either sunk in addiction or dead: the place has witnessed an alarming spate of youth suicides.

Taste Of Taboo: Dietary Choices In Antiquity, By Michael Beer

"Drawing parallels between the ancient and modern world is a perilous endeavour," warns Beer, but it is hard not to feel strong resonances in this study of classical pickiness. We learn that the young Nero, keen to forge a career on the stage, "tried to keep excessive flab at bay by repeated use of enemas".

After the Dance, NT: Lyttelton, London

It's 1938 and the Bright Young Things of the Twenties are neither as young nor as bright as of yore. One of them plans to throw a gas-mask party, until she realises that, although too amusing for words, such head-gear categorically prevents you from downing a drink, and that would defeat the object of the exercise.

Chapter One, Farnborough Common, Locksbottom, Kent

I don't want to be negative about the "Garden of England" but the area around the Chapter One restaurant suffers from a slight reputation problem. Since the 1950s, this suburban district on the edges of Farnborough, Croydon and Bromley has been considered Desperado Central: a lawless terrain of mock-Tudor homes and gated communities where retired armed robbers, Cockney racketeers and their kohl-drenched partners in crime used to retire to spend their ill-gotten gains. Of course, this is a foolish cliché, like the idea that Kent is full of gin-soaked lechers motoring to roadhouses in Maidstone with young popsies called Joy or Samantha in the MG's passenger seat. But there's a real feeling of stepping into the past about stepping into Chapter One.

Business Diary: From buses to gin palaces

Brian Souter may be best known as one of the founders of the bus company Stagecoach, but he has no shortage of other interests – the odd bit of political dabbling, for example, not to mention the ownership of a New Zealand ferry operator. Now, however, he is moving into a slightly more upmarket form of travel. Souter Investments, his private investment vehicle, has just pumped £9.5m into Sunseeker, the luxury yacht manufacturer. Some people love buses, of course, but there's no denying this venture has a little more glamour to it.

Andrew Martin: Give me an Edwardian teller over a hole-in-the-wall any day

John Shepherd-Barron, the man credited with inventing the hole-in-the-wall cash dispenser, died last week. In 1967, he sold the idea to a Barclays executive over a pink gin. The first cashpoint machine was then installed in Enfield, and its first user was Reg Varney from On The Buses, a fact presented with no further explanation in most obituaries of Mr Shepherd-Barron. Was Reg Varney by any chance a keen early adopter who happened to have about him the world's first cashpoint card when he suddenly saw the world's first cashpoint machine? No. It was all a publicity stunt, and those early machines required the insertion of not a card but a cheque impregnated with a mildly radioactive substance. Mr Shepherd-Barron, who went on to become a snail farmer, calculated that he would have had to eat 135,000 of these cheques before they did him any harm.

Why Africans are dying for a drink

Priced out of the legitimate alcohol market, the poor are turning instead to deadly homebrews

Gin: In a glass of its own

Forget ice and a slice – the new super-premium gins are much too interesting to be drowned in tonic. David Gerrie reports on a new spirit of adventure

Anthony Rose: 'Does David Cameron's 'DIY' manifesto for the Big Society require you to mix your own drinks?'

Election night looms, so it's time to vote for a party – any party, frankly, as long as it involves drinks of celebration and consolation. I couldn't possibly condone getting tanked up for the polling station, however much you might need it, but a Passion Fruit Margarita might help improve on the poor turnout of the last two general elections.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Lake Garda
Lake Como
Prices correct as of 28 November 2014
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game