Terence Blacker: Detritus fit for a society of hypocrites

Anyone looking for a handy all-purpose metaphor for the mood of Britain in the early 21st century has only to look around them. It will be there in the plastic sandwich-container on a train seat, in the swirl of fast-food wrapping and discarded newspapers on the pavement, in the empty beer cans and plastic bags that lie beside roads and in lay-bys across the country.

Blaze shuts key London station

One of London's busiest railways stations was closed and 2,000 commuters evacuated after a fire broke out.

Hobby bobbies: On the beat with the Special Constables

Regular coppers call them 'hobby bobbies'. But what is life really like for Britain's 14,000 Special Constables? Nick Duerden dons his helmet to sample life on the beat

Bookies slash odds on coldest-ever January

Freezing weather looks set to grip Britain for at least another week, forecasters said yesterday as road and rail networks struggled to function.

Now National Express loses East Anglia rail franchise

Struggling transport group National Express is to be stripped of its East Anglia rail franchise three years early, the Government said today.

Survivors gather to pay tribute to 'British Schindler'

Nicholas Winton rescued 669 children from the Nazis. Yesterday 22 of them returned to Prague to thank him

Managers vote to join rail strikes

A leading rail firm faced the threat of widespread disruption today when managers voted to join other workers in going on strike in a worsening row over pay and conditions.

Tears and tributes for King of Pop

Floral displays, dimmed theatre lights, a mass moonwalk and Sir Elton John singing "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" to celebrity house guests – it was an eccentrically British response to the news.

Picturing Britain: Street View, Radio 4

Take a photo, get yourself arrested

Tracey Emin: 'You have to watch out for death when you are most happy'

Something very sweet happened today: my mum made pancakes for me and everyone at my studio. My mum will be 81 soon and to see her with a bowl and fork in hand whisking away, with the eager eyes of my Japanese assistant following her every move, and then the tossing – it all worked very well. And the no-recipe formula, the all-knowing "I've-been-making-pancakes-for-70-years" attitude filled me with a strange, glowing pride for my mum, a real mum doing a real mum thing.

Secretary faces jail for stiletto attack

A secretary was facing jail today for kicking a train passenger in the face with her stiletto heel after he told her boyfriend to take his feet off a first class seat.

Agency offers career in teaching to sacked bankers

Thousands of bankers and finance staff who have lost their jobs as a result of the crash of Lehman Brothers are being wooed to become teachers.

Warm weather is forecast for May bank holiday

Sunny spells over the bank holiday weekend are expected to bring gridlock and train travel misery to millions of Britons.

Record £14m fine for Network Rail

Rail infrastructure company Network Rail (NR) was today fined a record £14m following serious engineering work overruns over the New Year.

Richard Ingrams' Week: 'Tis the season to take the train if you can find one

For many years, the government of the day would spend thousands of pounds every Christmas on TV commercials warning of the dangers of drink-driving. And, as the years passed, the images got more and more graphic and disturbing.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there