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.

Last Night's TV: Coming Up: I Don't Care/Channel 4<br />Mistresses/BBC1

Thank goodness for Coming Up. A collection of short films from Channel 4, it offers young talent a chance to show their skills with a brief slot on Thursday night. It's not just a break from the monotony of the channel's hospital/police office/chat-room-heavy roster; it's a genuinely interesting display of possibilities.

The Big Chill, Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire

The relaxed vibe that pervades the Malverns charmed our man in the mosh pit

Errors & Omissions: If you're going to mess about with numbers, get them right

Conversion course: One of the most frequent source of mistakes is the mania for converting currency amounts in newspapers. It is often unnecessary, which makes it all the worse when an editor gets it wrong, as someone did in editing Patrick Cockburn's Monday Essay about America's withdrawal from Iraq. He wrote that Iraq's entire military procurement budget for 2004-05, $1.2bn, was stolen.

Rhiannon Harries: 'Can we stop calling clothes you'd lost in your wardrobe 'vintage''

In the great tradition of all female travellers experiencing a sartorial crisis at a UK transport hub, I found myself last month in the Heathrow branch of Accessorize. The strap on my handbag, I explained superfluously to the shop assistant, had broken, which had come as no surprise, as it was vintage. She asked if it had been very expensive. Not really, I told her, as I hoisted the defunct gold 1980s number on to the counter (although, considering the craftsmanship, a tenner was indeed quite pricey). Upon sight, she laughed like a drain and said, "Oh right, it's just old."

Cultural Life: Paloma Faith, singer

Music: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 'Dig, Lazurus, Dig!!!', Edith Piaf "La Vie en Rose", Billie Holiday "Lady Sings the Blues", Lavern Baker "Voodoo Voodoo", Wynonie Harris 'Greatest Hits', Rufus Wainwright 'Want Two', and Erykah Badu 'Mama's Gun'.

Paloma Faith: a Cuban twist on the retro look

The singer Paloma Faith is known for her bold, retro look. But on a recent holiday in Cuba, she decided to give her signature style a tropical twist. Here, she explains how she did it

Barclays Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Town Hall and other venues, Cheltenham

An annual festival rounds up some fab singing, and a great discovery

Advertising: how did it influence this election?

Poster campaigns may have been overshadowed by new media, such as Twitter, and the televised debates

Dress Code: Paloma Faith, Singer

What are you wearing right now?

A yellow catsuit and a Carmen Miranda-style fruit hat. I'm on tour and am about to go on stage. It was made by my fab friend Carly.

Gilliam turns his hand to opera with ENO debut

He is an ex-Python turned film director whose on-screen flights of fancy have proven his love of high-octane, large-scale productions with similarly sprawling budgets.

DVD: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, For retail & rental (Lionsgate)

Forget the plot (an immortal man risks losing his daughter in a bet with the devil) and revel in the fantastical world Terry Gilliam summons in this exposition on the imperative of the imagination (in the film industry as much as life itself).

Paloma Faith, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Paloma Faith descends, waving ochre ostrich-feather fans as celestial clouds light up behind her, to a chorus of "aahs" from her backing singers, like some heavenly burlesque deity. Until, that is, you notice her head-dress: an elaborate, ridiculous ensemble of sequined fruit. She's a 2010 version of Carmen Miranda, a cabaret performer for the Gaga generation (the fruit tops off towering scarlet heels and a canary-yellow catsuit).

Paloma Faith, Yeasayer, Mystery Jets and Tim Westwood confirmed for Lovebox

16-18 July, Victoria Park, London

Paloma Faith: From burlesque performer to music's Next Big Thing

There's been an incident. Thanks to the internet, I've heard all about it before we even meet. Shortly before she sets out from her rented flat in Islington to the private members' club in central London where we are destined to share afternoon tea, Paloma Faith broadcasts the breaking news on Twitter: "ho hum! i didnt get nominated for a brit award but nor did amy [Winehouse] on her first album so i will try not to get upset". But she is upset, and by the time she arrives at our chosen destination, she is very upset indeed.

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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
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?