News

'We were exotic strangers competing for notches on the bedpost'

Theatre: End of the pierrot show

Big shoes, little cars, custard pies: clowns have an image problem with the over-fives. But now our red-nosed chums have discovered tragi- comedy. And rebranded themselves as performance artists. By Clare Bayley

Fridge-freezers for Jesus

If a man strikes you, you should turn the other cheek, says the Bible. But if your assailant is one of the athletic evangelists known as the Power Team, it might be better to run away. They're spiritual, but they are also large.

Letter: School gimmicks

Sir: Ministers claim they are privatising Hackney education authority because they are acting on behalf of Hackney parents and children ("Hackney loses control of its schools", 20 March).

Hackney loses control of its schools

THE GOVERNMENT effectively took over key parts of a local authority yesterday, as Ministers prepared to put its controversial education service out to tender.

BOOK: PICK OF THE WEEK

You've read all her books. They transported and transformed you. I don't know who she was, that special writer, but there's a jolly high chance that she's in London this week. Margaret Atwood perhaps or Nadine Gordimer? Carol Ann Duffy or Doris Lessing? She's trying to decide what to read to you; she's going through her books, marking little passages with torn-off scraps of Post-it. Shall she bring the paperback? No, she's always preferred the cover of the first American hardback edition.

Blunkett to seize control of `failing' Hackney schools

THE GOVERNMENT is to seize control of one of Britain's worst education authorities after inspectors found it was still failing pupils.

Property: Stepping Stones, One Couple's Property Story

MANDY EVANS, a TV producer, and her partner Syd - who have bought three properties since 1984 - were the first of their peers to buy, but were surprised at friends' reactions. "One said: `You're really stupid.' They thought we were mad," Mandy remembers.

They say it's Europe's richest inner city. Try telling them that in Hackney

PINK CHAMPAGNE, you might have thought, was a bit decadent for a working lunch. But then this is the City of London, which yesterday learnt that it heads the European wealth league. Yesterday, inner London, of which the City forms a part, knocked the previous leader, Hamburg, into second place by a considerable margin.

Comedy: Punchlines

Rich Hall

Going Out: Comedy: hackney empire birthday party

The American stand-up Rich Hall (right) is as quirky as they come. He is given to singing random lines from Loot to the accompaniment of an electric organ: "Ford Escort. 376,000 miles. As new. Needs windscreen... Thirty metres of Number 4 grit sandpaper. No time-wasters, please... Sing along if you know the words." Not the sort of routine you'd expect from a run-of-the-mill "why are relationships so difficult?" raconteur. He shares a strong bill on Wednesday night with Ricky Grover, Tim Vine, Rhona Cameron, Junior Simpson, Hitchcock's Half Hour, The League Against Tedium and others at the 97th Birthday Celebration for the Hackney Empire. Mare Street, London E8 (0181-985 2424) doors open at 7pm, shows starts at 8pm

Racism costs director pounds 60,000

A FORMER local authority housing director who subjected a senior black colleague to acampaign of "grossly offensive" racial discrimination was ordered yesterday to pay him nearly pounds 60,000 in compensation.

`Easier than ordering a pizza'

SOPHIE SPENT pounds 250 a day to feed her addiction to crack cocaine. "I didn't look like a drug addict. I was losing weight, but I still took care of my looks and how I dressed.

PUNCHLINES

Lee Evans

Chinese stage circus

For an injection of energy and colour as the summer draws to a close, you need look no further than London's Hackney Empire this weekend, where the Chinese Stage Circus (above) is taking centre stage. The performers, some of whom were trained in China from the age of six, combine traditional circus skills with dance and extraordinary shows of physical dexterity. Catch them while you can - the show ends tomorrow.

American Times: Los Angeles: Doing the rich man's dirty work in City of Angels

ONCE UPON a time Los Angelenos, like all big-city dwellers in the United States, were asked to separate their recyclable rubbish into glass, paper and aluminium cans before putting it out for collection. But that was before the advent of the Big Blue Bins.
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Day In a Page

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
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz