Life and Style

Q. I'm a single mother in my forties and I think I've begun to develop some kind of social phobia. People think of me as quite a confident person. I'm fine dealing with people in my work and at the school gate (I have two sons aged 11 and 14), but I dread any social event.

Don't look back in hunger: Musicians reveal their favourite foods in Rockstar Cookbook

Who would have thought that bad boy musician Noel Gallagher once had a Yorkshire Tea habit? Or that Razorlight partly chose to sign with Universal because the label took them out for a better dinner than their rivals? Both feature in Love Music Love Food – the Rockstar Cookbook, published in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Pop's gender war: Sexism dictates the media profile of female stars

It was the weekend when it was announced that women were responsible for each of the UK's top five albums that finally pushed me over the edge. Let me be more specific. It wasn't the fact that Amy Winehouse, Adele and Beyoncé were occupying those top spots that I took issue with – it was the predictable flurry of media reporting, proclaiming that women in music were having some sort of moment.

WOW Bikes: Ron Arad reinvents the wheel

Londoners have become used to their distinctive blue "Boris bikes", but from today, a much more outlandish fleet of two-wheelers will be available. Called WOW Bikes, they have been customised by top creatives and after being used by visitors to a West End hotel for the next 10 weeks, they will be auctioned to raise money for the Elton John Aids Foundation.

Meltdown: Ready Steady Go! Royal Festival Hall, London

Ready Steady Go! may be the most fondly remembered 1960s pop TV show. It lasted barely three years, fading out, at the end of 1966, before it could outstay its welcome – like the sharp singles it helped to promote. Ray Davies and the producer Vicki Wickham's one-night-only revival for Meltdown can't resurrect the social club the studio became for the Beatles, Stones and Kinks, or the young dancing Mods who were almost trampled by careening cameras. The minimal set – a couple of period photo-decorated signs – is a letdown. But somehow, the spirit of pop at its most warmly creative catches light again.

Women of the World, Royal Festival Hall, London

"Women of the world, take over," the whimsical Scots bard Ivor Cutler once urged, his advice taken last Friday at a concert featuring women performers from different strata of the musical spectrum.

Paloma Faith & the Guy Barker Orchestra, Barbican, London

In the Guy Barker Orchestra, Paloma Faith has clearly met her perfect match: a bunch of talented musicians with as deep and sincere a love of big-band jazz and blues as she has, led by a gifted musical director whose arrangements subtly and ingeniously update the standard period tropes. There's an obvious rapport between singer and musicians, who doubtless had fun planning tonight's show, Down at the End of Lonely Street, a quote from "Heartbreak Hotel" signifying the melancholy, lovelorn tenor of the torch-song material.

Paloma Faith: 'It took seven years to become an overnight success'

The Independent Online caught up with the multitalented pop singer Paloma Faith ahead of her gig at London’s HMV forum last week. She explains why she abandoned her plans to dance professionally for a job in a pub singing with her mates. Even though she's a major star she's still keen on the X Factor - so much so she confesses she'd like to write a song for contestant Rebecca.

Dom Joly: I'm at the Albert Hall and it's rubbish

I played the Albert Hall last week. I was on stage for all of 30 seconds but still... box ticked. It all started with a call from Dave Arnold, the overly talented film-score composer. He was organising a concert for Care, a charity he is passionate about. The idea was for a night of some of the greatest film music ever composed, all played live with full orchestra – all bells and whistles. In between the music some light relief was wanted and Dave asked if I could do something. I agreed – after all, unless you're Eric Clapton, it's not often you get the chance to play the Albert Hall. The problem was, what to do? I am not a stand-up comedian, so don't have 10 minutes of lighthearted patter to do before moving on to my next three gigs of the evening: "Good evening ladies and gentlemen and can I say how exciting it is to be at the West London Photocopying Awards.... Sorry I'm late, but I've just been playing the Albert Hall."

Forget Radio 2: In five years' time, we'll all be going Smoooth

Former BBC DJ Mark Goodier tells Matthew Bell why BBC executives have reason to fear

Sarah Kennedy denies drink problem rumours

Presenter Sarah Kennedy today hit back at rumours her departure from BBC Radio 2 was due to a drinking problem, insisting she was always "stone cold sober" on air.

Mo Coppoletta: "If you want to succeed in tattooing, you need to breathe, eat, drink and smell tattooing."

One of the world’s most respected tattoo artists shares his inspiration and an insight into his work in the new book ‘Tattooed By The Family Business’.

Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: alcoholism

Dear Virginia,

Yurtel: They even put eye masks on the pillows here

When Katy Guest decided to take her parents to the Big Chill, there was only one style of camping that would do. Cue Yurtel
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Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us