Harrods and Selfridges unite to join staff blacklist

Harrods and Selfridges are among two of Britain's best known high street businesses to have signed up to a controversial database for blacklisted staff that could affect the careers of three million workers.

My first Job: Novelist Penny Vincenzi was a Harrods librarian

Just a minion earning her upper crust

Claire Beale's Best in Show: Pot Noodle (AKQA)

Once it was known as the "slag of all snacks". Now, for the princely sum of £29.95 you can buy a "Poulet et champignon" Pot Noodle in Harrods. All proceeds go to Action Against Hunger. It's the only reason I can possibly think of for eating the stuff. Well, that and a stunning new viral for the brand by AKQA.

Mary Dejevsky: Why does Mohamed Al Fayed get such stick?

How the great and good of the British establishment must be rejoicing – discreetly sheltered by their castle walls and stucco facades. They finally granted Mohamed Al Fayed his yearned-for day in court, and now the whole Diana conspiracy has evaporated in the steam of his own overheated rhetoric. That's what we call fair play, old chaps, fair play.

Thrifty Living: We've all stopped spending. It's the end of the world

reading the road, Cormac McCarthy's apocalyptic vision set at the end of the world, I was struck by how the things we regard as "valuables" – namely credit cards and cash – were utterly useless, as opposed to the huge value given to things we currently don't set much store by, such as tinned peaches and home-made toys. Coins are meaningless tokens. A pack of playing cards, however, is a thing of wonder.

Fulham's turn to fret over rising star

As clubs follow the academy way, Omozusi proves that it pays to beware admiring eyes

Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

These delays are playing hell with my karma

Food & Drink notes

What a sauce; cook and eat 4 Live8; the story of O; have a stab at this

Her Outdoors: Please, put that belly away while I'm eating

Audience participation: are there two more fearsome words in the English language? You could say that life is one long process of learning to avoid audience participation. Unfortunately this is not so catchy as saying, "Life is not a spectator sport." (Really? Then why did we invent shooting sticks and the Harrods hamper?) Nor is it quite as rage-inducing as saying, "If you're not living life on the edge then you're taking up too much room." (Please. Go. Away.)

Another pay day for Neil and Christine, the couple who turn muck into brass

Neil Hamilton hasn't changed, unfortunately, not one bit. The former Conservative minister is the same grasping, boastful, smug, vulgar, deluded, obfuscating, mendacious oaf he always was. Those qualities, after all, along with a few other nastier ones, were what shot him into the public eye in the first place, when he was accused by Mohammed Al Fayed of accepting "cash for questions" - of taking payment to make planted inquiries in the House of Commons in return for plain brown envelopes stuffed with cash.

Lewington's Hornets sting frail Fulham

Watford 1 - Fulham 1

Harrods chief facing huge legal bill

The Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed was criticised by a senior judge today and was left facing legal costs in excess of £4 million over his failed attempt to sue the police for wrongful arrest.

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No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

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Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor