News Arms deals fixer Ziad Takieddine has been refused entry to Britain

A controversial fixer for arms deals linked to an alleged corruption scandal that engulfed Nicolas Sarkozy has been refused entry to Britain.

Opera singer Boe bites the (tiny) hand that feeds him

The star of La Bohème picks rock classics over classic arias, to the dismay of others in the musical world

Cooper Brown: Running

Brian Viner: No one holidays quite like the British

With a bank holiday weekend almost upon us, followed in most schools by a week of half-term, tens of thousands of British families will, Icelandic ash clouds permitting, be jetting off today and tomorrow for some guaranteed Mediterranean or perhaps more distant sunshine. At the same time, tens of thousands of others will be risking the vagaries of the British weather, and setting off for hotels, rented houses, B&Bs, caravans and campsites in our own islands. The latest edition of The Good Beach Guide, published yesterday, shows that no fewer than 461 British beaches now meet the guide's gold standard, so unpolluted seas at least await those brave enough to wade in.

No black tie, no tea-towels on heads – meet the populisers

The men behind the rise and rise of Opera Holland Park are proud of their diverse repertoire – and their diverse audience. Anna Picard reports

Excess and the exorcist: Edward St Aubyn brings the Melrose family saga to an end

St Aubyn has spent two decades writing acclaimed tragi-comic novels about the abusive, aristocratic Melrose family, modelled on his own.

Elizabeth Llewellyn/ Simon Lepper, St. John’s, Smith Square

The first thing you notice about Elizabeth Llewellyn’s voice is the bloom – a plushy, covered quality that extends pretty much throughout the range and only hardens under pressure at the top.

The Afterparty, By Leo Benedictus

Celebrity satire with lots of style

The Cult of Beauty: Beautiful Dreamers

A new exhibition at the V&A showcases the work of the 19th-century Aesthetic Movement. Arifa Akbar explores the enduring allure of art for art's sake

Cooper Brown: Television

I spent the day filming a TV pilot in Holland Park. You, dear reader, are not the only person to spot my potential. It seems that with OMG With Peaches Geldof now looking like history there may need to be a replacement.

Home to roast: Are designer chickens worth the money?

Forget the £2.99 broiler. Christopher Hirst discovers how gourmet super-birds are carving out an appetising – and lucrative – niche

Must You Go?, By Antonia Fraser

Some of Antonia Fraser's memoir of her decades with Harold Pinter does consist of lustrous names dropping in an avalanche of well-connected badinage onto Notting Hill lawns and Caribbean terraces. But not much.

Fables: A Film Opera, Spitalfields Winter Festival, London <br/> The Messiah, Wigmore Hall, London

Stories of survival, rebellion, greed and love come to life in a remarkable marriage of music and film

Diary: Best to avoid the scrum, Gavin

Never afraid to embrace the big issues of the day, High Street Ken sprang into action on behalf of his old mate Gavin Henson, after the occasional rugby player announced he was once again ready for romance.

'Writing really can change lives'

A project that brings authors into inner-city schools, inspired by the novelist Dave Eggers, is empowering young people &ndash; and writers themselves &ndash; in ways they never expected.
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
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The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
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Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
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Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
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Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
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Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
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Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
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Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own