Diary: Tara gives it both barrels

To a gala dinner celebrating the 80th anniversary of the famed Foyles literary luncheon, where I learnt a thing or two about the perils of book signing (which, naturally, I'm filing away for future reference). "The worst thing about being an author," a tired and emotional Tara Palmer-Tompkinson assured me as she arrived, "is having such a bloody long name. My book signings take ages!"

BBC criticised over premature poppy wearing

Presenters race to pin on remembrance flowers early – before two-week appeal begins

Diary: Sincere apologies, and thinly veiled contempt

We begin with gravely distressing – though unimpeachably exclusive – news from the High Court, where the first libel-related contempt case in memory seems imminent.

Former MSP Tommy Sheridan "couldn't afford scrap News of the World court case'

Former MSP Tommy Sheridan "couldn't afford" to pull out of his legal proceedings against the News of the World, despite admitting to party colleagues allegations made in the newspaper about his private life were true, a court heard today.

Cultural Life: Jeffrey Archer, Novelist

Books
I have just read 'Up at the Villa' by Somerset Maugham, which has been re-issued by Penguin. It's set in Florence in the late 1930s and has a wonderful atmospheric feel, reminding us how very stiff upper-lipped the British used to be. It's fun.

Nevin's Notes (13/04/10)

An alternative take on the election

Nicholas Lezard: Hay is lovely, except for the festival

Having a way with written words is no guarantee of being a decent orator

Virginia Ironside: Being sent away to live with boys is no preparation for adult life

To any woman who's been involved with a man who had the misfortune to be sent away to public school, Professor Leonard's research will come as no surprise. Because we can assume that, since there aren't that many all-boy day schools, and that most boarding schools are private, the men in question are those creatures who have been sent away from home far, far, too young for there not to be some sort of damaging impact on their mental health.

The Chain of Curiosity, By Sandi Toksvig

This rumination on life's flotsum and jetsum reads like a voiceover of Toksvig's reassuringly whimiscal Radio 4 programme, Excess Baggage, complete with her lilting delivery, and inspires much the same wonderment and gentle chortles.

Boyd Tonkin: 'Back to the shop, Mr John': snobbery lives

The Week In Books

Inside Lines: Britain's superkids give great week of sport a golden Finnish

Tom Daley – and his blubbing dad – have been hogging the headlines in Rome but elsewhere in Europe more British kids were brilliantly emphasising that the nation's got real talent.

Observations: Come to the butterfly ball

What do Kate Winslet, Ricky Gervais and Tony Blair have in common? Aside from a propensity for making embarrassing speeches, that is. The answer, unexpectedly, lies with butterflies.

Michael Onslow: We need old lags in the Lords

I'm a Conservative. I like anything that looks like an ox cart but pulls like a Ferrari, and I think the House of Lords is a perfect example. It is an institution with immense virtues. The majority of people there are there on their honour, and they behave honourably. That is why everybody is so upset about the allegations. It really hurts.

Brian Viner: I share Fay Weldon's bafflement

Is the literary analysis industry made out of blancmange?
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
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
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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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Life and Style
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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Independent Travel
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