How did an old-fashioned British manufacturer of motorbike clobber become the label of choice for the Hollywood set?

Longton, Staffordshire, is one of the original six Potteries towns that make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent, where it is known, rather disparagingly, as "the neck end". Once home to so many "bottle-oven" brick kilns that the streets were clogged with the fug of chimney smoke, Longton now fights urban decay. There's no obvious connection to the red carpets of film premieres, to nation builders and iconic revolutionaries, to pioneers of aviation or heroes of motorsport.

Pandora: Powell gets his books in order

Here's a development that is sure to come in handy in the aftermath of this year's election: Jonathan Powell, former chief of staff to Tony Blair, has found a publisher for his forthcoming book, aptly titled The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in Modern Britain.

Rock and reel: Rockbiopics go lo-fi

From Ian Curtis to John Lennon, musical heroes have long fascinated film-makers. As a raft of new biopics hits our screens, Geoffrey Macnab explains the eternal love affair

Business Diary: Waples' audition for world of PR

The news last week that Sunday Times business editor John Waples is taking a highly paid job in PR with Financial Dynamics did not come as a complete surprise to everyone. A couple of months ago Waples took a star turn at a conference organised by CorpComms, the magazine for PR professionals. He was planning ahead, clearly.

Listen to a song from 'Nowhere Boy'

Nowehere Boy, the biopic of a young John Lennon reaches UK cinemas next week and is reviewed in today's Independent.

Album: Various artists, Nowhere Boy (Sony)

“You know what rock’n’roll means?” John Lennon’s mother asks her son in Sam Taylor-Wood’s imminent biopic. “Sex.”

Aaron Johnson on being John Lennon

Aaron Johnson, who plays the young Beatle in the forthcoming Nowhere Boy, talks to James Mottram about his preparation for the role – and his much-publicised romance with the film's director, Sam Taylor-Wood

Woman admits hiding terror files in burka

A mother of six has been given a two-year jail sentence after admitting concealing "a mini encyclopaedia of weapons making" in the sleeve of her burka.

First Night: Nowhere Boy, London Film Festival

A voyage round John Lennon's mother

Lennon's real-life 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds' dies at 46

The woman who inspired the Beatles' song "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" has died of lupus. The St Thomas Lupus Trust, which supported Lucy Vodden during her long illness, said she died last week at the age of 46.

Woman who inspired The Beatles' song Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds dies aged 46

The woman who inspired the classic Beatles song Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, has died aged 46, a charity said today.

Minor British Institutions: The Order of the British Empire

Despite many efforts to reform it, this archaic "order of chivalry" survives, though how seriously it is taken even by those proudly waving their medals outside Buck House is debatable.

Alexei Sayle: Roll up for the magical mystery tour of Liverpool – but don't visit my old house

It is an unsettling experience to take a tourist trip round your hometown
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Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London