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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'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk