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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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker