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Manchester’s Chorlton along with Herne Hill, Muswell Hill and Dagenham in London are some of the worst afflicted areas while Mossley Hill and Waterloo in Liverpool also feature prominently

The day that Virgin was thunderstruck

Great Railway Fiascos No2

Historical Notes: A long, long way from a cappuccino

BETWEEN 1858 and 1876 George Eliot wrote seven novels recreating the English countryside for an increasingly suburban constituency. Hot and dusty readers in Edgware, Clifton and Edgbaston plunged into Adam Bede and Silas Marner as if taking a deep walk into a cool, fresh forest they had heard about from their grandparents. People who rode the smutty train to work, or spent the day listless in a villa, immersed themselves each evening in Eliot's landscape of pleasant fields and farm cottages.

Property: North London's Edwardian values

Hot Spot Bounds Green

Accidental Heroes of the 20th Century: 2: Peter Cook, Comic Actor

HARRY THOMPSON'S magisterial biography of Peter Cook runs for 500 pages. Cook's version of the story - produced at the suggestion of a publisher in 1993 - was a few sheets of writing-paper covered in rough scribble. "I thought we might flesh it out with a few photographs," suggested Cook typically.

A case of censorship and the modern sensibility

A love of suppression is no longer the preserve of bullying politicians and `Daily Mail' columnists

Review: Nostalgia is never enough

Ray Davies, The Storyteller; Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

Property: The tortoise or the hare - which way to the best home?

Buy in haste, repent - and repair - at leisure. But what's a buyer to do? If you take your time, you risk being repeatedly pipped to the post by cash-in-hand speed freaks. If you join the free-for-all, you make the most important purchase of your life in a state of hysteria. Robert Liebman tries to find a viable point in-between.

How the elements struck twice

In 1994, three men armed with baseball bats and chains smashed their way into a house in Selsey, West Sussex, then fled without taking anything - but not before explaining to the frightened residents that they had broken into the wrong house. That is the sort of exciting place Selsey is.

Just imagine, the earl and the loofah. It's all terribly surreal

It's hard to say whether the Earl Spencer divorce case is working out as comedy or tragedy, but it's certainly packing in a lot of amusement value. You could hear a collective gasp of outrage across the metropolis when the papers reported the view of "expert witness" Jeremy Posnansky that, for a settlement of pounds 300,000, Lady Spencer would be able to afford only "a house in a very unattractive distant suburb with problems such as crime". Everybody who recently paid pounds 300,000 for a Charming, Four-Bedroomed, South-Facing, Crime-Free Home, Handy for Shops and Underground Station could be heard demanding, "Oi! What's wrong with Shepherd's Bush/Clapham Common/ Muswell Hill then?"

Health: Meningitis victim loses claim over spinal deformity

A 32-year-old meningitis victim left with a "gross" spinal deformity yesterday lost a long legal battle for damages for alleged medical negligence.

Tennis: Summer of two seasons

Split personalities of British tennis went on show last week.

Performance: Stanshall rides again

Cyberschwartze ICA, London

Ray Davies Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Ray Davies made his audience wait one and a half hours before finally allowing us to hear the opening riff from "You Really Got Me", played as it was meant to be, on an electric guitar. Not that anybody minded: we knew it would come in the end. Several times he teased us with those great chopping chords banged out on an acoustic guitar at the beginning of a completely different song, or in the middle of a story about the Kinks' original eight-watt amplifier. But Ray and his "band" (one musician, called Pete) remained strictly unplugged for the first 90 minutes of his show. Arriving on stage, carrying, for unknown reasons, a battered suitcase, Ray Davies launched straight into "Victoria", a song not about the great British railway station but about the great British queen. Who should never be confused, of course, with "straight" Kinks drummer Mick Avory. Poor Mick, Ray informed us with a lewd grin, unwittingly won the affections of Brian Epstein in those heady days of 1964.

Haringey owns up to pounds 50m debt

Haringey council in north London has admitted liability for the biggest debt of any local authority in the country - losses of almost pounds 50m from running and redeveloping Alexandra Palace.
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NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own