The latest stories and all the transfer rumours on Thursday 8 January

Opinions: Do you prefer a pub or a wine bar?

JEFFREY BERNARD, journalist: I prefer pubs. Wine bars play the bloody Four Seasons in the background all day long and the people who go to them are awful - advertising people, producers of TV commercials. Pubs have a better mix of people and they are for drinking in, not sitting around talking business.

Travel: Joyeuse unbridled, via Leicester Square: In the second of our series on France, Paul Newman delights in the freedom of self-catering in the mountainous Cevennes

OUR holidays to France always begin at the same place. Not at the hoverport at Calais, or the airport at Nice, but at a shop near Leicester Square in the centre of London. A trip to Stanfords map shop at least a month before we set off has become such an enjoyable ritual that I have come to regard it as part of the holiday itself.

A bloke's life: Stephen Frears served his time at the BBC, made a few right-on films, and then got drawn into the dreamy, golden world of Hollywood: big budgets, big hair, valet parking. He now commutes on a grand scale, and hangs out with Geena and Anjelica. This makes him, what? Unsound? A traitor to the cause? Or just a bit jammier than the British can bear?

'HERE, LOOK]' Stephen Frears said, pretending to be awe-struck. 'Here's my producer] A real-life, Hollywood producer]' We were loitering on the pavement outside his house in Notting Hill Gate: Frears was unshaven and dressed, much as the actress Glenn Close once described him, 'like a stadium after the game'. He was about to have his picture taken. On the other side of the road, a taxi had just drawn up, and a harassed-looking woman with a blonde crop was getting out. This was Laura Ziskin, producer of No Way Out and Pretty Woman and Frears' latest film, Accidental Hero. She wore round, green-tinted spectacles, with customised, green-tinted flaps.

Casino robbed

A casino in central London - the Napoleon Club in Leicester Square - was robbed by two men masquerading as police officers. After showing fake warrant cards, they produced handguns and escaped with an undisclosed amount of money.

Coales' Notes: Hitting bottom: A week in the art of Gordon Coales

TUESDAY: This is definitely interesting, though best not to have any feelings in advance.

Allied Leisure in pounds 12m cash call

ALLIED Leisure, the bowling hall and nightclub operator, has joined the growing list of companies asking shareholders for money. It has launched a rights issue to raise pounds 12m.

Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest

(Photograph omitted)

Derwent Valley remains cautious

JOHN BURNS, managing director of the London property investor Derwent Valley Holdings, remains deeply pessimistic about the sector, despite posting interim profits up 29 per cent.

ROCK / Rai, smiles and the devil's croon

ALGERIAN superstar Khaled is not too sexy for his shirt: he's too sexy for his homeland. He lives in Paris, where his dissolute lifestyle - incorporating a fondness for a drop of the hard stuff, and not being ashamed to live with his girlfriend - is less contentious. There are commercial reasons too for his exile; and the French music scene, as we never tire of reminding ourselves, is not exactly awash with charisma.
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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 15 May 2015
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

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It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

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Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

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Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

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Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine