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Don't drop your tights, Lord Irvine

Dressed like a glittering beadle, he can blame his true ludicrousness on something else

Return of the masterpiece that survived fire, flood and woodworm

A DECORATIVE woodcarving widely considered to be the finest work of art of its type has returned to Britain after an absence of more than 300 years.

Monday books: And so to bed? Not a Pepys

JEM (AND SAM): A REVENGER'S TALE BY FERDINAND MOUNT, CHATTO & WINDUS, pounds 14.99 THE JOURNAL OF MRS PEPYS: PORTRAIT OF A MARRIAGE BY SARAH GEORGE, REVIEW, pounds 12.99

Design News: In bed with Charles II

n THE ONLY annoying thing about falling for a picture or an object in an art gallery is having to wait till the exhibition is over before you can buy it and take it home. The organisers of "Southern Craftmakers" understand such impatience: should you wish to purchase one of the 140 items on show you can whisk it away at the end of whatever stage the tour is on, and a similar piece will take its place.

Fashion: Everyday people

Street style in the Nineties is less about shock, more about blending in - the difference is in the tiniest details, chronicled here by photographer Henry Bond

Outtakes: Furry symbols of wealth and power, feathered accessories and four-legged friends

Animals in portraits are highly symbolic and form part of the artist's commentary on his subject, argues the chief curator of the National Portrait Gallery. Judge for yourself what the artists were saying in these paintings. Top: Anna Pavlova with Jack, by Lafayette, 1927. Above: Sir Edwin Landseer by John Ballantyne, 1865. Above right: Ellen Terry with terriers. Right: Charles II and puppy, 1630. Far right: Max Wall Maggi Hambling, 1981.

Book review: A hero in search of Trafalgar

PRINCE RUPERT: Admiral and General-at-Sea by Frank Kitson, Constable pounds 20

Education: Passed/Failed - Beryl Bainbridge

The novelist Beryl Bainbridge, 63, wrote Every Man For Himself, based on the Titanic story, which was Whitbread Novel of the Year and runner-up for the Booker Prize. She is featured on The South Bank Show on Sunday. Her novel Master Georgie is published in April.

Theatre reviews

NEVER LAND

Comfort of strangers

Again and again this week people - almost always women - have told me the same story. It is about how they felt themselves compelled to go down to Kensington Palace. Some laid flowers, one or two signed the book of condolence. They knelt down for a moment, or just stood there and had their moment of silence, talked a little with strangers doing the same thing - and then went home to their children, their pets and their husbands.

Letter: Royal rifts

Your leading article "Crisis for the church? Why?" (10 August) says "no Supreme Governor of the Church of England has been divorced, never mind remarried". Charles II was urged to divorce his wife, Catherine of Braganza, when she failed to produce an heir, and to marry again. Among those supporting this course of action was the Bishop of Chester. George I was already divorced when he acceded to the throne in 1714. Although he did not remarry, like Charles II did, he enjoyed several liaisons. George IV attempted to divorce his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, from whom he had been separated for over 20 years. He was unsuccessful, but she obliged him by dying a few months after his coronation.

Book review / Stinks, squalor and splendour

Restoration London by Liza Picard, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pounds 20

Racing: Andreyev heading towards Jersey

Andreyev will attempt to give Richards Hannon and Hughes their second Jersey Stakes win at Royal Ascot in three years after taking the Listed King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket yesterday.

words: Political

AS pre-election tempers get hotter and insults fly faster, we can expect to hear more and more politicians using one of the most insulting words they know. Political. A loyal backbencher threw it at the Opposition last week in defence of Douglas Hogg, who was in a bit of trouble over the state of our abattoirs. To attack Mr Hogg at this juncture was "blatant political opportunism", he cried. Mere opportunism, one felt, was one thing, but that sort ... To what further depths could an Opposition sink?

Johnny Foreigner

Condom was Charles II's physician and was knighted by the Merry Monarch for his services. True or false? False, sadly, although it sounds convincing. In fact, no one really knows the origin of the word condom. What we do know is that they have been in use since at least 1,350BC when Egyptian tribesmen used them not as contraceptive devices but as protection from disease, injury and insect bites. The strawberry-flavoured, anatomically shaped, lubricated, spermicidally charged condom had to wait another 3,340 years.
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital