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Pale skies, bare trees and frosty landscapes

Gina Cowen on the most magical winter gardens to visit

Letter: Lib Dems must seize their chance

Sir: The danger of Paddy Ashdown entering a coalition with Tony Blair is that the Liberal Democrats could face the same decline into irrelevance as the Free Democrats in Germany. The electorate would always blame a small partner for mistakes while handing the credit for success to a larger one. Further, there could be a loss of members who joined the party because it is distinctive - a radical party which has none of the nanny-state baggage of Labour or the Tories' materialistic fear.

My favourite thing

Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, brown-paper packages tied up with string - everyone has their favourite thing. Here, Antonia Fraser, Martin Scorsese, Tina Turner, Max Clifford and others reveal theirs. Compiled by Louise Levene and Scott Hughes

Books: Impotence in Arcadia

THE SECRET LIFE OF APHRA BEHN by Janet Todd, Deutsch pounds 25

Crimplene headscarves and high street grotesques

Charlotte Cory's tale of small-town greed doesn't hit the jackpot for E.Jane Dickson; The Guest by Charlotte Cory Faber, pounds 15.99

CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT : Devilled Blairs ... Labour's weeds ... gym knickers

MY FRIENDS at Conservative Central Office seem rather taken aback at all the fuss generated by their poster depicting Tony Blair as the Devil. Seems a legitimate enough tactic to me. After all, as my colleague Alan Watkins is fond of pointing out, politics is a rough old trade. And a man who will pose naked with an Irish wolfhound for a dog-lovers' calendar, as exclusively revealed on this page last Sunday, is hardly likely to balk at a little Satanism, is he? However, a word to the wise, Dr Mawhinney: change the tune now and then! The central theme of the campaign is spot- on: the Blair fellow is clearly an impostor. But you must sow seeds of doubt in the voters' minds as to the nature of his, er, imposting. The Moonlight dirty tricks department has designed this new series of posters (right) that will explode the Blair image once and for all: 1) The "Creature from the Black Lagoon" - The Thing They Call Tony Blair is actually a man-eating fish-human, from a primordial swamp, eager to snap up floating voters. The Tories, in contrast, are tough on slime, tough on the causes of slime. 2) The "Lone Ranger" - subtly questions the Labour leader's sexual orientation and family man image: he'd rather hang out with Tonto than Cherie. 3) The "Ned Kelly" - Blair is really an Irish-Australian bushranger; if he is elected he will steal all your sheep and shoot you. And the Queen Mum, given a chance.

Royal divorce is a trade for mugs

Divorce: it's a mug's game. Or soon will be, if demand for the one marked "Charles and Di Divorce" is anything to go by.

Women beware women

LA CEREMONIE Claude Chabrol (15) RESTORATION Michael Hoffman (15)

Major brands Labour's plans to reform Lords an 'irrelevance'

Inside Parliament

Six of the best: Purcell tercentenary events

The Fairy Queen Barbican, Silk St, London, 7.30pm tonight (0171- 638 8891) Based on A Midsummer Night's Dream, Purcell's semi-opera is a series of exotic masques set in a magical world - the original stage directions called for swans dancing with fairies, huge fountains and peacocks. What this performance may lack in fantastical excess is more than made up for by the Sixteen Choir and Orchestra, Jeremy Sams's narrative and wonderful lighting and visual effects.

The King's new clothes to be sold after 320 years hy

The honeysuckle-embroidered wedding suit of James II, the younger son of the executed Charles I, is to be sold at auction next month. The brown wool jacket and breeches will go under the hammer at Sotheby's on 2 November for an estimated pounds 200,000 to pounds 300,000.

Not in front of the children

RADIO

Letter: History of the undemocratic City

Sir: I read with interest your article on the way the City Corporation is using its undemocratic powers to block the legitimate election of an alderman dedicated to the much-needed reform of the City of London ("Aldermen accept blackball ruling", 20 September). The City of London has long been run by a small clique of rich City financiers in their own interest.

History in a day and all that

"THE FIRST date in English history is 55BC." So opens that model of scholarship, 1066 and All That. And so, give or take some rough verbiage, opens This Sceptr'd Isle (R4), a series that will fill the sacred 15 minutes after the Morning Service throughout the next year, offering us Memorable Dates and Bad Things aplenty. The rounded, nay spherical, tones of Anna Massey give spurious orotundity to Christopher Lee's bumpy script, filled out, so far, with solemn readings from Winston Churchill and extracts from a remarkably bad translation of Tacitus.

LETTER : Commemorating the millennium

From Dr Richard D Ryder
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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss