News

Retailers enjoyed a "spectacular" Christmas, official data showed, with total sales growing at their fastest rate in years.

The News Matrix: Wednesday 3 October 2012

Plan for 'poor' to go to private schools

The Jimmy Savile abuse scandal means men across Britain will sleep uneasily, remembering past 'conquests'

Instead of faux-outrage and arse-covering about history, I’d be happier to hear strident plans to protect and listen to young women in the future. More of that, please

The Metro front page showing women removed from Ikea images

Ikea airbrushes women from its Saudi catalogue

Swedish furniture giant criticised for removing images in bid not to upset Arab customers

Winckler's Wacky World: All ears

Did Deep Blue have a bug?; why men bond with 007, bin head, magic allergy-curing cow, holocaust tattoos and Ikea: not so ethical, after all.

Step into my office

More of us are working from home than ever before, but it doesn't have to mean documents on the dining table or conference calls over the cornflakes.

My Edinburgh: Mark Watson, Comedian

I've been to the past thirteen Edinburgh Fringes as a punter, student, director, aspiring stand-up, actual stand-up, 24-hour marathon man and - my current incarnation - jaded old veteran. There are various tricks you learn, when you've been in the game as long as I have.

Ikea to launch budget hotel chain in Europe

Best known for its budget flat-pack furniture, Scandinavian retailer Ikea is planning to launch a chain of budget hotels in Europe.

'Are you a Gypsy?' Ikea tells camper van owner that Travellers are barred from its car parks

Furniture giant Ikea has been caught up in a racism row after insisting it was lawful to employ security guards to stop Gypsies entering its car parks.

Ikea aims to provide all the features of a home entertainment system, but without the fuss

Design: Tangled cables be damned

Ikea's foray into the world of home entertainment is not just an attempt to change the market, but it could also spell an end for that most modern of problems – dastardly cable tangle.

<p>1. GLTC Fire Engine Toddler Bed</p>
<p>£124, gltc.co.uk</p>
<p>Few toddlers can resist a fire engine, so what better way to persuade them that bedtime is fun?</p>

The 10 Best children's beds

Sweet dreams, whether they're in a bunk cot or with an MP3 docking system

Ikea accused of using East German political prisoners to manufacture furniture

The Swedish flat-pack giant Ikea is today reeling from potentially scandalous allegations that it used scores of political prisoners in former communist East Germany to manufacture its affordable furniture products in the years leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Julian Baggini: Is Osborne's dad worth a £19,000 desk?

The one thing you would never do at the desk Sir Peter Osborne has his eye on is write at it

Ghostly: The dining-room is a whiter shade of pale

Adam Simmonds, Danesfield House Hotel and Spa, Henley Road, Marlow-on-Thames, Bucks

Late-night visitors to Marlow have often been shocked by the chilling apparition of the Grey Lady of Danesfield Park, a solemn-faced ghost holding a lantern, who glides around where the chapel once stood, before disappearing. We had a broadly similar experience on driving into the hotel grounds – seeing the chilling apparition of Danesfield House, a great white whale of a late-Victorian Gothic folly looming in front of you like Moby Dick. It's an extraordinary sight, with its tall chimneys, its clock tower and elaborately terraced gardens, and it carries an air of melancholy – the result, perhaps, of too many owners, speculators and changes of use. It was built in 1899 by the heir to the Sunlight soap fortune, who sold it the moment it was finished. It housed evacuees in the war and was requisitioned by the RAF. It was once home to the Hellfire Club of Medmenham, a bunch of crazed desperadoes from the nearby village. Since 1991 it's been a hotel. And in the past four years, it's picked up a reputation as home to one of the country's finest chefs, Adam Simmonds.

From Pasty Tax to Bubbly Tax: After a strange week in the news it wouldn't be at all surprising if readers fell for this Daily Mail effort. It claims: 'The Government is planning to mitigate the damage caused by adding VAT to pasties by introducing a new ‘green’ tax on chilled champagne.' - and quotes, amongst others 'Frank Beers', MP for Theakston South...

Were you fooled? The best of the April Fools' Day jokes

The newspapers have outdone themselves with an eclectic collection of April Fools' Day japes, but were you taken in?

<p>1. John Lewis Winter Snow Goose Down</p>
<p>£150, johnlewis.com</p>
<p>A supremely comfortable pillow using down from geese native to Russia's glacial mountains.</p>

The 10 Best pillows

1. John Lewis Winter Snow Goose Down

£150, johnlewis.com

A supremely comfortable pillow using down from geese native to Russia's glacial mountains.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links