Racing: Testing time for Sheikh's squad

The only team in blue with any chance of success this afternoon will be the one from west London, following the decision of Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation to keep its string at home in Newmarket until a reason emerges for a series of disappointing performances this season.

Dutch brothers missing in London

Police are concerned for the safety of two Dutch boys who disappeared early yesterday while holidaying with their parents in London.

Life and death in Dolphin Square

Michael Streeter on the block of flats that has been home to the famous, infamous and notorious

Tory MP drank himself to death alone in his flat

The sudden death of Iain Mills, the Tory MP, was caused by acute alcohol intoxication, an inquest was told yesterday.

Britain under the hammer

House auctions used to be only for the hard up and the speculative. But a shortage of houses is encouraging mainstream buyers to compete with professional developers.

A comprehensive cock-up

Will Pimlico School, monument to late-Sixties progress, become a monument to Major's Private Finance Initiative? And will Jack Straw's statue be in the playground?

The sound of the broken hearted

What's in a voice? Plenty, if you're Linda Thompson, the former folk-rock diva who lost hers completely.

Shirley on the scaffold

The District Auditor's final verdict on Westminster council may rob John Major of his majority.

Outside the Tate on the clean, classical steps, Pimlico Lolitas smoke and yawn and stretch their baby-animal legs in the November sunshine

"It's just dead animals cut in half, you realise?" says Jonathan when I announce I'm quitting my word processor this afternoon for the Turner Prize exhibition at the Tate.

No appeal by child over special school decision

LAW REPORT v 28 September 1995 Simon v Special Educational Needs Tribunal and another; Queen's Bench Division (Mr Justice Latham) 25 July 1995

REVIEW OF THE BUXTON FESTIVAL

Opera BUXTON FESTIVAL Buxton Opera House

where shall we meet? The White Swan, SW1

The Tate, standing in that area that Shirley Porter tried to gerrymander out of working-classness recently, has always been a bit short on local rendezvous points for gallery visitors. The White Swan, "one of London's oldest pubs", near Pimlico tube, has recently been tarted up in an eccentric version of the stripped brick school. Rafters have been inserted at normal ceiling height through which one can see the old Anaglypta peering through. This place has a friendly atmosphere and, although it has a jukebox, it's often not playing; instead, the large room is filled with the rumble of people conversing without self-consciousness. Real ales and pleasant, if unexceptional, food at £3.50-£4.50.

BOOKS / Paperbacks

The Conquest of Mexico by Hugh Thomas, Pimlico pounds 12.50. Cortes and his tiny army did not pluck a plum that was ripe to fall. The Aztec expansion had begun less than 100 years earlier and in 1518 their culture remained vigorous. Nor were they crudely colonial, but, like a modern superpower, controlled with some subtlety a network of client states from a magnificent and advanced centre. Excellent mathematicians, craftsmen and civil administrators, the Mexicans would easily have assimilated the Spaniards' innovations - iron, candles, the alphabet, horses, wheeled transport. It was smallpox, another present from Europe, which denied them the chance. Without the virus (and for all his courage and military skill) Cortes might well have been crushed, with intriguing consequences for the course of history.

OPERA / House warming: Cheryomushki - Pimlico Opera

Nobody told Shostakovich that Cheryomushki was the funniest musical before Mel Brooks' Springtime for Hitler. He felt ashamed of this late-Fifties tale of social optimism and bureaucratic corruption in a brand-new housing development (the title means Cherry Trees Estate). It was staged with big orchestra, high-profile Moscow run, film, the full works. Considering the troubles he had with his deeply considered compositions, he would have felt the irony of this glam treatment for something he wrote because he needed the work.

Ripe for renewal

One of the few unconverted houses in Eccleston Square SW1 has come up for sale for a relatively reasonable pounds 750,000. No 14 is unmodernised and has six storeys with 15 rooms and three bathrooms.
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