News

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

Habitat's credit insurance risk

Credit insurers have threatened to withdraw cover to suppliers of Habitat, the home furnishing chain, if it is bought by Hilco, the retail restructuring group..

Hilco close to acquiring Habitat

Hilco, the retail restructuring firm, is leading the race to acquire the ailing furniture chain Habitat and a deal could be unveiled in days.

Merciless Ikea memoir flat-packs a punch

Former executive's explosive book rips the cosy façade off the Swedish furniture giant

Ikea: Flat pack and fabulous

Cheap, practical and loved across the globe, Ikea designs have become modern classics. As the ubiquitous Billy bookcase enters its fourth decade, Kate Watson-Smyth asks the experts to select their favourite pieces

BILLY bookcase goes bling

Turning thirty this month, IKEA’s bestseller gets a funky makeover for limited editions

Leading article: The Swedish standard

For years the Big Mac has led a double life. It's been feeding hungry people around the world, and its price has been a new gold standard of a sort, by which the real value of currencies has been judged. We have The Economist magazine to thank for this ingenuity.

Martin Hickman: Shopping – the free and easy way

A stranger turned up at my door last week expecting a free cot. I helped her load it into her car. A few days later a 28-inch Sony Trinitron widescreen TV appeared in our front room, delivered by two sweating neighbours.

Hit & Run: Twinning streak

Before they divided into separate embryos, Bob and Mike Bryan existed, briefly, as a single zygote. Thirty-one years later, the identical twins have become the greatest doubles pair of their generation. Now gunning for their 55th pro title and eighth grand slam at this week's US Open, the Americans have been described as playing as if they were still a single organism. While most pairs talk strategy between points, Bob and Mike rarely appear to communicate. "The Bryans have an unfair advantage," Daniel Nestor, one of their rivals on the doubles tour, said this week. "They have that little ESP thing going."

Midsummer, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Only in Edinburgh might you find a rom-com which has ditties about the worst hangover in the world, a mist-wreathed Ikea car-park and a night of Japanese rope bondage gone wrong. For all that, though, Midsummer, "a play with songs" written by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre from the indie band Ballboy, remains desperately romantic.

Why the 2009 ‘staycation’ will save high street home shops

Home is where the holiday is, says Annie Deakin who discovers IKEA, John Lewis and The Conran Shop’s summer campaigns

Games Review: The Sims 3

Mac, PC, EA, £39.99

The Hobbit House: A quiet revolution

Simon Dale spent just three months building his woodland home in Wales. Clare Dwyer Hogg reports

Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s Globe, London

Star-crossed and fatally miscast

Pimp my Ikea: How to bling up your 'Billy' bookcase

What happened when we let the cream of up-and-coming British design talent loose on three basic pieces from the Scandinavian home-furnishing giant?
News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
peopleBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
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people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
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i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
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Independent Travel
Burgundy
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Lake Garda
Lake Como
Bruges
Paris
Prices correct as of 28 November 2014
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game