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 17 April 2015
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence