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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Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

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Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

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That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
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Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
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Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

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Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

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David Starkey's assessment
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Oliver Sacks writing about his life
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The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

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Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
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