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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project