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.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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