Dead Ringer

A STORY FOR CHRISTMAS: He was playing the big race in his head when a gloved hand clamped around his mouth

Travel: There's no excuse for getting lost

Matthew Brace and his compass join the orienteers finding their way in the New Forest

Country & Garden: Weekend Work - Nymphs in pink tights

FEW PEOPLE have bonfires of leaves any more, I am glad to say. But, although leaves can be put on the compost heap, it is worth considering raking them up and putting them into a double thickness plastic bin-liner, tying the top up tightly, and keeping the bag in a shady, out of the way place for a couple of years. By then, the leaves will have rotted down into delicious leaf mould which makes an excellent planting mixture of mulch for woodland plants.

Tip Of The Week: Painting Wood

Pine shelves are cheap and useful, but if you want a change of image it's easy to paint your existing pine:

The Style Police: Find it on the mean streets

If your bank account doesn't stretch to this season's luxury fabrics, never fear: the high-street retailers are on the case. And it doesn't matter if your cashmere isn't really 'shmere', no one will know the difference, promises James Sherwood

Theatre: If at first you don't succeed, kill, kill and kill again

SERIAL KILLING, one would imagine, is a serious business. And an actor playing a serial killer would have his work cut out preparing for the role. But what about an actor playing an actor playing at serial killing? In a musical? Well, in Douglas J Cohen's 1997 off-Broadway musical No Way to Treat a Lady, Tim Flavin is having a ball. As Kit Gill the role-playing murderer, he gets to sing, dance, laugh maniacally and dress up as a priest, a flamenco dancer and a stiletto-heeled woman. He gets the best tunes in a weak score, and, perversely, he's just about the most credible character in the whole show.

The big picture: The angel who fell to earth

CITY OF ANGELS DIRECTOR: BRAD SIBERLING STARRING: NICOLAS CAGE, MEG RYAN, DENNIS FRANZ RUNNING TIME: 114 MINS

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

THE LITTLE WHITE BUS had a Mission Statement on the back. Well it would. Everything has a Mission Statement now. I'm thinking of getting one myself. I don't know what it could be, but that doesn't matter. You just go down to a Mission Statement Consultancy and they do it for you.

Love thy neighbour, just don't talk to him

I DON'T know what happened to Andrew Boulton. I think he went off to be a doctor, just like he'd always wanted to when we were at school. He's probably respectable now, and won't like to be reminded that once he hung around with the likes of me, people who sit around in our shirt- sleeves, giving off a pleasing aroma of Bois du Portugal and Latakia while a couple of hired Latvian danseuses exotiques squirm attractively by their pretty heels from the rafters. "I wonder," we say to ourselves, giving one of the girls an absent-minded twizzle, "what it would be like to be respectable?"

Weather: Beavers feel warmer than weasels in winter

Biometeorology is the science that deals with the effects of the atmosphere on living organisms. Research has even revealed the relative insulating capacities of the winter coats of different animals.

Shopping: Ecstatic punters lap up the business of sex

It was drizzling yesterday outside the Erotica exhibit at Olympia but it was hard to find even one man wearing a raincoat. Purple boas and codpieces, yes. Leather, yes, lots of it and a bit of silver lame too. But very few raincoats indeed. "Inevitably we will get a few sleazeballs but most of the dirty raincoats will stay at home," said Erotica organiser Brian Wiseman. "That type of man is easily frightened."

Hanged man's case reopened

A man who was hanged 45 years ago for allegedly slitting the throat of a shopkeeper is to have his case re-examined by the Court of the Appeal.

Sermons in white stones

THE HUNGRY SPIRIT by Charles Handy, Hutchinson pounds 14.99

Treetop Animal protests in a concrete overcoat

After the re-emergence of Swampy, it was the turn yesterday of another well-known eco-warrior to step into the limelight when 17-year-old Animal was lowered from a treetop in one of the most dramatic episodes so far of the two-week eviction near Manchester Airport.

After Bridgewater: Four more 'murderers' join British courts' list of shame

The case of the Bridgewater Three is not the last of its kind, writes Chris Blackhurst. Four more alleged miscarriages of justice are expected to be referred to the Court of Appeal within the next month, before officials at the Home Office hand over this task to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (see above).
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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
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable