Taking the plunge in male world: A radical firm of female plumbers wants to change the trade's macho image

People who think that women aren't strong enough to be plumbers should think again. "Anyone who can give birth is stronger than they look," says Hattie Hasan.

Boiler scrappage scheme hits its target

The Government's boiler scrappage scheme – where people are given vouchers towards the cost of replacing their old unit with an energy-efficient "A-rated" one – has reached its target of 125,000 households in double quick time.

Nintendo's biggest brain

You may not recognise this man, but you'll know his work. From Super Mario Bros to Nintendogs, Shigeru Miyamoto is the brains behind some of the best-selling video games of all time. By Tim Ingham

Wolseley puts units under review as profits dive

Wolseley is prepared to sell some of its struggling units after disclosing a 34 per cent drop in interim trading profits, the company said yesterday.

Isa and May, By Margaret Forster

The narrator of this curious novel has an unusual name. Her parents, James and Jean, have called her Isamay, after her paternal grandmother, Isabel, and Jean's mother May. Isabel, or Isa, lives in some splendour, with Mrs Roberts to clean for her and the obliging Elspeth to bake the cakes that accompany afternoon tea. She also has a gardener on call. May, by contrast, lives alone in the two-up, two-down terraced house in which she shared her life with her husband Albert, a plumber of beloved memory, and raised four children, only one of whom, Jean, remains in London. Isamay is devoted to her widowed grannies, whose very different kinds of courage and tenacity are a source of both irritation and inspiration to her. Throughout the novel, she is working on a dissertation for an MA in Women's Studies, taking as her subject the importance of the grandmother in the family. Her supervisor, the forbidding, middle-aged Claudia, advises Isamay to examine the way certain figures from history have behaved towards their grandchildren - the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, for instance, and Queen Victoria. There are others, but it is really Isa and May with whom she is chiefly, and deeply, concerned.

'Appalling' conditions at young offenders' institute

A prisons watchdog has criticised "appalling" conditions at a young offenders' institute (YOI), it emerged today.

McCain ruined my life, says Joe the Plumber

He became the the square-shouldered mascot of John McCain's campaign for the White House in 2008, but all these months later the man they christened "Joe the Plumber" has suddenly lashed out at the veteran US senator from Arizona for "screwing up" his life.

Gordon Brown woos first-time voters

Gordon Brown today wooed first-time voters in a constituency where Labour holds a 3,000 majority.

How to protect your home from burst pipes – and other domestic disasters

Chiara Cavaglieri offers a few simple tips, and looks at the best cover

After the freeze comes the thaw – and risk of a flood

Flood damage could end up costing you tens of thousands – and with a big thaw just round the corner it is crucial to be prepared.

Ganges braced for 60 million bathing pilgrims

As millions of Hindus prepare to descend on the holy city of Haridwar, the authorities have urged people to avoid dirtying the Ganges – India's most sacred river yet one of its most heavily polluted.

Insurance claims leap as big freeze continues

Insurers today said they had seen a sharp increase in home and motor claims as a result of the freezing weather.

Mighty Mario is Europe’s favourite

Forget the spiky charms of Sonic the Hedgehog, the masculine might of Master Chief and the lithe limbs of Lara Croft. The gamers of Europe have chosen their all-time number one hero and it’s a fellow who’s pretty handy with a plunger, rather than a plasma cannon.

The Company They Kept, Edited by Robert Silvers & Barbara Epstein

"A memoir of a talented friend risks sentimentality," warns Robert Silvers, (editor of The New York Review of Books who edited w ith its co-founder, Barbara Epstein, until her death in 2006) in his preface.

Closer Look: New Super Mario Bros Wii

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Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

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What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

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New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms