Life and Style

At the risk of straying into territory staked out by my more lurid male counterparts, I once saw a strip bar in Nashville with a neon sign outside advertising '99 Beautiful Girls! And One Ugly One'. They can get away with that kind of playful hucksterism down in the American South. Here, outraged punters would be demanding refunds and invoking the Trade Descriptions Act.

Bubble tea comes in a range of flavours – and colours

A curious kind of cuppa

Bubble tea is big in Asia and the US but now this strange brew – complete with tapioca 'pearls' – has reached the sipping point here, says Neela Debnath

Burning ambition: Campaigners say smokers can quit, with incentives

Sophie Heawood: The new cool is... ciggies with no logo

Dedicated slight smoker our writer finds a guilt-free way to light up

No relish in Big Mac sales

The Olympic sponsor McDonald's clattered into the hurdles yesterday as the fast-food behemoth reported its worst sales in nine years during July. The chain, whose outlet at the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London, is the world's biggest and serves 1,200 customers an hour, saw flat sales over the month as squeezed consumers cut back on Big Macs and fries despite a huge promotional push.

McDonald's hits recession hurdle

Olympic sponsor McDonald's clattered into the hurdles yesterday as the fast-food behemoth reported its worst sales in nine years during July.

One of the outside spaces in the Athletes' Village

Utopia – inside the global village

The place has an unworldly feel with its toned bodies, free canteens and no need to lock up your bike

James Ashton: Sponsorship game's an Olympic winner for global brands

Those sponsors have a lot to answer for. Tango drinkers inside the Olympic Park have to make do with Fanta because of Coca-Cola's association with the Games. A Mars bar that might help the athletes work, rest and play better is off limits because of Cadbury's deal to peddle its chocolate treats within the sporting perimeter.

It is not the O2 Arena, it is the North Greenwich Arena

Trending: That's not my name!

Confused by weird new venues and odd-sounding drinks? Don't panic: it's all an Olympic exercise in making over non-sponsors. Simon Usborne reports

Lord of The Rings: Great Olympians, such as Lord Coe, are human too

DJ Taylor: Coe, the corporate reality softener

We should not be surprised if the former 1,500m world record holder now defends official high-handedness on the podium

Boris Johnson yesterday treated the media to a spirited defence of Olympic sponsor McDonald’s. 'This is all just bourgeois snobbery,' he said

Olympic shorts: 'Oh, oh dear!' The hapless Mr Hunt drops another clanger

Until Danny Boyle's spectacular, the most enjoyable television coverage of the Games would have to be the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, trying to demonstrate his bell-ringing prowess to the cameras during yesterday morning's national bell-ringing at 8.12am.

The real east London: an Olympic view from Hackney

Long before they even began, the London 2012 Games became - in the minds of many - deeply immersed in and reliant on corporate sponsorship. And there were many in Hackney's Haggerston Park, in east London, where thousands of locals not able to get their hands on tickets came to watch last night's Ceremony, who felt that the non-ticketed, non-sponsored party was more akin to the ideals of the original Olympics than the shindig going on just up the road in Stratford.

He says: 'It would be naive of me to sit here and say that nothing could go wrong.'

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Olympics seem more about honouring sponsors than athletes

All last week I was a panellist on The Wright Stuff on Channel 5, a daily morning programme a full two hours long. Its presenter Matthew Wright engages the common man and woman, harvesting and challenging their opinions and feelings about life, culture and politics. The viewers, sharp, sensitive, smart, come from sectors of society largely disregarded by the elite.

Mexican-food chain Chipotle sill soon invade London

Say hola to the new burrito conquistadors

Does Britain need any more fast-food joints? We're OK, thanks. But the news that US/Mexican-food chain Chipotle is on a European expansion drive (it currently has just three London stores and one in Paris and plans to open hundreds more), gives pause for thought.

Simon Kelner: Should tax breaks be bolted on to an Olympic deal?

I know it's only a week away, and I know that all around us are the signs that the Olympics are coming, but after such a prolonged, over-wrought build-up, it seems almost hard to believe that soon our attention will be diverted from official incompetence towards athletic excellence.

Coca-Cola have said that they will decline tax exemptions

Sponsors urged to waive Olympic tax breaks worth tens of millions

After McDonald's and Coca-Cola bow to online pressure, campaigners insist others must follow

The Olympics are a golden target for art satire

Here are some Olympic images that organizers have not approved: A hooded youth making off with an Olympic ring; the same multicolored hoops turned into toasters; a dog doing something a bit rude to a London 2012 mascot.

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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
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
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War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?