When Cassius Clay went into orbit I found it difficult to understand why older sportswriters developed a prejudice against him

The old sportswriters I knew received no rewards for their vintage. They still had to meet deadlines. They had to argue with hotel telephonists, plead with telex operators, struggle with baggage, and climb the stairs to press boxes sited in thrombosis territory.

Yeltsin returns to his Kremlin desk

Boris Yeltsin returned to work in the Kremlin yesterday, seven weeks after his heart bypass operation, and promised that life for Russians would get better in the new year.

Mail order kids

If you like shopping but your children don't, buying clothes for them can be a painful experience. To make life a little easier for harassed pre-Christmas parents, Melanie Rickey highlights six of the best and brightest ranges, all available by post

I'm too sexy for an overcoat;

This winter, writes Andrew Tuck, to freeze is to be deeply cool

Six of the best: Autumn coats

1Three-quarter length camel coat, Choice, pounds 59.99. Camel (or blond for those in the know) is still very much around. This coat is perfect for dressing up or down: good with jeans and a T-shirt or over a suit for the office. Choice, for nearest stockist call Freephone 0500 923923.

OPERA: Handel's Xerxes, Steiner Theatre

The minuscule theatre at the Rudolf Steiner Centre proved, perhaps unexpectedly, a good setting for Handel opera: the authentic instrument orchestra of nine, spiritedly directed from the harpsichord by Christian Cumyn, shared the small stage with a steep ramp and the singers. The setting (designed by ffinlo Costain) encouraged cast and players to interact - the continuo, complete with theorbo, was particularly lively. It made the most of thin resources and left no room for anyone to hide. The violins occasionally sounded scrawny but, after some initial nervousness, all the musicians played with spirit and considerable stylishness.

Theatre: Celia, you're breaking my heart

Adrian Turpin on two new versions of `As You Like It'

Paint magic

In Here: If I opted for the jolly pink of Scaramouch, would Freddie Mercury's voice ring constantly in my ears? Why do paint companies do this? What's wrong with a simple Y037?

Thieves shatter allergy girl's life

REBECCA FOWLER

Merchant's bilingual japes

Edinburgh Festival: Theatre; BERLINER ENSEMBLE Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

LETTER:Protective garb

From Mrs K. L. Boukeras

But should it cost £1.78 a minute?

Classical Music

A sight to make an old manservant young

THEATRE What the Butler Saw National Theatre, London

LA GRANDE ILLUSION

Marcel Marceau is the world's most famous mime artist. But mime has moved on. At 71, he now finds himself at war with the art form he helped to transform `Very often critics think what is old is passe. But we are not sure that the passe is not the future'

Winter do your worst: If you don't go for overcoats, a puffa will do. And if you don't go for puffas, God bless you, says Tony Glenville

French Connection pounds 100 Tough black nylon puffa with a faux fur collar and drawstring waist. Smart enough for city wear and practical enough for the country. Minimal styling means it won't date. From selected stores nationwide.
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