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Colonel Meow, the cat with the longest fur in the world and the brooding face of an evil genius, has sadly passed away.

WHAT'S ON WORLDWIDE

UNTIL 30 AUGUST

Film: Footloose and purpose-free

Cookie's Fortune Director: Robert Altman Starring: Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Patricia Neal, Liv Tyler (118 mins; 12)

MapMuseum pieces

Tapeworms, chamber pots, barbed wire - if anyone ever wishes to open a museum dedicated to odd museums, these would be the prime contenders

The Sketch: Redwood's back to see Prescott completely off the rails as

"BYE BYE, bye bye," shouted Labour backbenchers as Gillian Shephard rose to speak during environment questions. The tone was one of reflective derision, but there wasn't much sting since Mrs Shephard has known she was going for months and acknowledged that she was on "borrowed time" with an attractive levity of spirit.

How we met: Barbara Cartland & Laurie Johnson

Dame Barbara Cartland wrote her first book in 1923 and now has 704 romantic novels to her name. She is in the `Guinness Book of Records' as the bestselling author in the world. In 1964 she founded the National Association of Health and has campaigned for many causes, including housing for the elderly. Widowed with three children, she lives in Hertfordshire

Football: Wright fights for his right to speak out

West Ham's voluble and sometimes volatile striker fervently believes in freedom on and off the pitch.

Basketball: Giants chase record crowd

MANCHESTER GIANTS risk tempting fate tonight when they face London Towers at the MEN Arena and bid to break the attendance records for a basketball game in the United Kingdom. The first target for the Budweiser League leaders is the 10,001 recorded in the Guinness Book of Records who saw Birmingham Bullets beat Sheffield Sharks 100-88 in March 1997.

Basketball: Sharks strike in last second

Sheffield Sharks 111 Manchester Giants 109

World's first surviving octuplets

A 27-YEAR-OLD woman yesterday gave birth to the world's first set of surviving octuplets. Nkem Chukwu, from Houston, gave birth to five girls and two boys by Caesarean section. The other child, a girl, was born two weeks ago. All eight were in intensive care yesterday and said to be in a critical condition.

Baby less than a foot long wins four-month battle to survive

ZOE McDOUGALL was shorter than a classroom ruler and lighter than a bag of sugarwhen she was born 15 weeks prematurely. Now the child, who weighed 425g (15oz) and was 30cm (11.5in) long, is in line to become one of the smallest surviving babies in the world.

Cinema: Middlebrow, middle-class, magical

On Connait la Chanson (PG)

Books: Reference - When pulp facts prove stranger than fiction

All of us know about those tragic nerds who love to browse in reference books. The type's definitive portrait appears in Mike Leigh's painfully funny Nuts in May, when the bearded control-freak camper Keith zips up his tent-flap and turns away from his hippy wife, Candice-Marie. "What are you reading, Keith". "The Guinness Book of Records." Quite.

'Mutineer' crew's tales of drink and sex

CREW MEMBERS who jumped ship during a calamitous attempt to row the Atlantic are considering suing the skipper, whom they say branded them cowards and mutineers.

Country & Garden: Nature Notes

THE FACT that the Guinness Book of Records has authenticated the claim for the largest spider's web ever known in the United Kingdom - a monster network 16ft 8in by 12ft 6in, found in Newent - will bring no comfort to arachnophobes. According to one expert, Paul Hillyard, our whole culture is peculiarly anti-spider: whereas other nationalities are indifferent to the creatures, we put them top of our hate list.

Rugby Union: Lost boys of Never Lands

David Llewellyn sees the Dutch get no points for tries but lots for trying
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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there