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.
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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
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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
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us