Life and Style

Waterproofing your wardrobe with practical, yet luxurious, purchases is a wise investment, says Emma Akbareian

Can an ex-civil servant finally persuade women to buy erotica?

Sex will be strictly cerebral in a new top-shelf magazine for 'thinking women', reports Jerome Taylor

Simon Carr: Want to lose weight? Live like your grandparents

It's that time of year to get less fat. Normally I don't bother. If I really have to go to the beach I put on a T-shirt and say I'm wearing a life jacket underneath. A bulldog clip behind each ear makes all the difference. It's easy to cheat. But this year visual tricks are not an option. I've got to go to a wedding in June, and if I don't fit into a 100kg suit the bride won't turn up. The happiness of more than one member of the wedding party is in my heavy hands.

Zuma celebrates as ANC set for two-thirds majority

South Africa's President-elect Jacob Zuma made a triumphant appearance before cheering supporters last night as early results showed a resounding win for the ruling African National Congress.

Make do and mend: The new fashion makeover

Kirstie Allsopp and Gok Wan both used to tell us how to spend our money. Now they've changed tack – with new shows aimed at leaner times. Gerard Gilbert isn't sold

Christina Patterson: When the going gets tough, the tough wise up

Not much space for chic little sofas when you’re worried you might lose your home

Alice Jones: Karaoke is so pernicious

Karaoke is the reason I no longer accept invitations without an exhaustive run-down of what the night's festivities might entail. Too many times I have been caught out, expecting an evening of drinks and dancing only to find myself locked in a small room with padded walls and brownish pleather sofas, staring at a flickering blue screen as my so-called friends bellow ("And through it alllllll, she offers me protec-SHUN..."), wail ("My eternal flaaaaaaame...") and screech ("I'm a Barbie girl...") through a back catalogue of songs that you only ever hear at weddings and work parties. "Gangsta's Paradise"? Who says white middle-class boys can't rap? The Grease megamix? Well, one song's never quite enough, is it?

Read for change: Instant dinners are getting a makeover

How do you fancy tucking into a Thai coconut curry instead of a curling cheese sandwich in your lunch hour? Or sitting down to a pea and mint risotto, or canellini and borlotti beans with curly kale and broccoli just minutes after you get home from a long day at work? Over the past few years, ready meals have been undergoing a revolutionary makeover, but they still have as many enemies as champions: are microwave dinners exemplary of all that is slothful and unhealthy about the British public? Or the ideal short cut to fitting a proper meal into a hectic schedule?

Simmy Richman: The Best Rock & Pop albums of 2008

‘For sheer chutzpah, it’s hard to top the LA-based indie gospel group Bodies of Water’

Ring the changes: Think out of the window box this Christmas

Give what you'd most like to receive: narcissi, slug rings and 2kg of brain compost

Sales slump hits B&Q

Retail group Kingfisher today said sales at its B&Q business were down nearly 9 per cent amid the slump in consumer spending.

Pandora: Gwyneth's makeover leaves her hubby cold

Gwyneth Paltrow recently underwent an attention-grabbing transformation, going from macrobiotic goody-goody to steeple-heeled glamour girl.

Bites: The truffles or the testicles, sir?

Credit crunch? What credit crunch? Bury your head in the sand for a night at Zafferano, the Michelin-starred Italian in Knightsbridge, for its annual "truffle menu", which features gloriously extravagant comfort-food dishes, including cheese fondue, risotto and sweet zabaglione, all made with white truffle.

The City and the Mountains, By Eça de Queíroz

The Portuguese Dickens, Eça de Queíroz (who spent almost 15 years as consul in Newcastle and Bristol), left this last novel behind on his death in 1900. As timely now as then, it follows – with a smart balance of satire, irony and lyric grace – the progress of a rich brat who quits the city to find fulfilment in rural life.

Birmingham named UK's ugliest city

It’s official - Birmingham is the UK’s ugliest city. According to a new survey, it is home to the some of the nation's least-loved buildings.

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Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before