Life and Style Large breeding snails of the 'gros gris' variety in Helen Howard's production unit

Heliculturists have increased production 25-fold since 2000. Cahal Milmo meets some and finds out why more home cooks and chefs are shelling out

Gale can take to the air for King George

Jim Dreaper believes he can solve the transportation problems that had threatened the participation of Merry Gale in Saturday's King George VI Chase by securing a berth on one of the regular flights that transports breeding stock between Ireland and Britain.

DIARY: Obituaries of the late Patricia Highsmith

Obituaries of the late Patricia Highsmith have stressed her unhappy childhood, her friendships with Graham Greene and Paul Bowles, her sphinx-like inscrutability and so forth. But not enough attention, I feel, has been paid to her relationship wi th snails.

Gastropod

THE VEXED question of tipping has been discussed in this column before, when the Restaurateurs' Association of Great Britain advocated legislation to levy a standard service charge on all meals served in restaurants (as in other European countries). That way there would be no doubt about how much one should leave, or who benefits from the arbitrary surcharge that many restaurants slap on top of the bill.

Columbia finds space for weightless matters

(Photograph omitted)

Good Questions: The sound of silence

GASTROPODS and hats are among our subjects the week, but first a query sent to our Thursday Silly Questions feature, but re- routed because it is - literally - phenomenally good.

Ivory Towers: Personality tests for octopuses

PARANOIA can make an octopus unsuitable for aquarium display, according to R C Anderson's report, 'Cephalopods at the Seattle Aquarium' in the 1987 International Zoo Yearbook. An emotional octopus may have to be excluded from tests for spatial awareness, according to J A Mather's paper 'Navigation by spatial memory and use of landmarks in octopuses' (Journal of Comparative Physiology, vol 168, 1991).

Gastropod: Correction

In last week's column a wrong telephone number was given for Lenni Smith, organiser of Portobello Road's green markets. The correct number is: 071- 624 6249. The Gastropod and his editorial minders apologise for the inconvenience.

Letter: Catholic planning

Sir: Andrew Brown writes ('Catholics braced for moral crackdown,' 3 August) that the birth rate among middle-class Catholics is exactly the same as the birth rate among middle-class agnostics.

Food & Drink: Such slow progress in the snail's saga: After some little local difficulties, L'Escargot has opened again with new names being dropped around the place. Emily Green sampled the results

L'ESCARGOT, the soap opera, continues. For those unfamiliar with the Soho serial, a brief exposition: L'Escargot opened in the Twenties, but became fashionable only in the Eighties. At the height of its popularity, the food was fine, the wines were excellent and it was almost synonymous with Elena Salvoni. She was the manager, and had a deft touch attracting showpeople and politicians.

Look closely and you will see the snail moving

NOW, here is a question: is John Smith the snail? Not any snail, I mean the snail described by Gunter Grass, the great moustachioed German novelist. His snail symbolises slow, real, political progress: 'It seldom wins and then by the skin of its teeth. It crawls, it goes into hiding but keeps on, putting down its quickly drying track on the historical landscape. . . .'

A dying legend in its own lunchbox

IN A PLASTIC lunchbox, a single snail is experiencing the ultimate loneliness. It is the last of its kind. When this small mollusc dies, its species will enter the eternal night of extinction.

EPIC / Keeping the drama shipshape

'I FEEL as if I've got a chihuahua lead and I'm running up this huge monster, this jabberwocky, and trying to pull it through a small door,' says Greg Doran, director of The Odyssey, which opens tonight at the Other Place, the RSC's smallest, roughest space.
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