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
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links