Life and Style

First of all, a caveat: the clothes we see in 16th-century portraits aren't fashion. At least, not to our eyes. They're court costume – emphasis on the costume. It's difficult to reconcile the lavishly slashed, brocaded and jewel-bedecked gowns of lustrous Renaissance portraiture with our jeans-and-T-shirt culture, or even with the grander creations on the international catwalks.

Letters: Seasteads - islands of hubris and exploitation

These letters were published in the 30th December edition of the Independent

David Bowie in Louis Vuitton's new advert

Video: David Bowie stars in Louis Vuitton's new advert

Legendary singer David Bowie fronts Louis Vuitton's new advert with supermodel Arizona Muse for the L'invitation au Voyage campaign series

The London Metal Exchange's system of quoting prices has remained unchanged for over 100 years

London Metal Exchange is an anachronistic world long since left behind by modern markets

The London Metal Exchange – which sets the rules for the global aluminium trade – is one of the few modern markets to retain “open outcry” trading, in which brokers shout and gesticulate to make their buy and sell orders.

Dame Helen Mirren even played the Queen in action film Red 2 (albeit Elizabeth I not II)

Dame Helen Mirren struggles to 'wriggle out' of Queen's mantle even in action film Red 2

Playing the Queen may have won Dame Helen Mirren an Oscar and an Olivier award, but she revealed she is struggling to “wriggle out” of the regal mantle. Only a rewrite at her request meant the acclaimed actress did not have to imitate Elizabeth II in her latest film, a big budget American action movie.

Michael Gove brings back 12 times tables in new curriculum

Children will be taught fractions from the age of five and will once again have to learn the 12 times tables under a controversial new national curriculum to be announced today by the Education Secretary Michael Gove.

Plebs

Plebs: A funny thing happened on the way to the Colosseum

Plebs is set in Ancient Rome, but the sitcom tells timeless truths about life at the bottom of the pile, says its writer Tom Basden

Plebs

Plebs: A funny thing happened on the way to the Colosseum

Plebs is set in Ancient Rome, but the sitcom tells timeless truths about life at the bottom of the pile, says its writer Tom Basden

The Saturday Quiz

1. The often-quoted opening line of The Go-Between – LP Hartley's 1953 novel – is what?

John Prescott was one of many who took to twitter to voice their reaction to the Leveson report

John Prescott misses out on title of High Steward of Hull... to arch rival Peter Mandelson

Former Deputy Prime Minister irate at missing out on title

The naked truth: Nadav Kander, Bodies. 6 Women, 1 Man, Flowers Gallery, London

Nadav Kander was inspired by ideas of Elizabethan purity to create these stunning photographic portraits of six nude females and one male. 

Anne-Marie Duff to appear in Shameless finale

Acclaimed actress Anne-Marie Duff is to make a return to Channel 4's Shameless for the show's last episode.

Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell

IoS Sounds of 2013: Classical

Old stories ignite new passions as Oliver Knussen conducts Angelika Kirchschlager in The Rape of Lucretia, and Barbara Hannigan, James Gilchrist and Jasper de Waal join Amsterdam Sinfonietta for Les Illuminations and Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.

First night: Dr Dee, English National Opera, London

Albarn's divisive tale of an Elizabethan mathematician just doesn't add up

Queen visits Roman Catholic church during Enniskillen visit

Protestant and Catholics from a Northern Ireland town devastated by an IRA bombing showed their unity today by joining forces to host a Diamond Jubilee visit by the Queen.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own