News Fireman Christian McClean comforts colleague Alex Badcock (right) after they both finished the last ever shift at Clerkenwell fire station in London.

There were emotional scenes as firestations across the capital closed their doors

Doctor On The House: When designs make sense, they get demolished

New buildings that fit in with old ones? Only a deranged radical would dream up such a scheme, says Jeff Howell


Writer Sally Brampton, 42, studied fashion at St Martin's. After winning a talent contest in 1979, she started writing for `Vogue', became fashion editor of the `Observer', and helped set up British `Elle'. She was editor-in-chief there for five years, before leaving to concentrate on her writing. She has written three novels, and lives in London with her husband Jonathan and their daughter Molly, six. Fashion designer Jasper Conran, 39, is the son of Sir Terence and Shirley Conran. He studied at Parsons School of Art in New York and launched his debut in London in 1979; since then he has created the costumes for many ballets and plays, and designed, along with his main collection, Debenham's `J' range. He lives alone in London

POSTCODE FROM THE EDGE: A slow boat to docklands

The eight-and-a-half miles from Paddington in west London to Limehouse in the east is a journey which many tube travellers dread - the generally unreliable Circle and Central Lines are followed by the dreadfully unreliable Docklands Light Railway. But thankfully, there is an alternative. The Regent's Canal was sunk 180 years ago and skulks below street level, cruising unnoticed on its seaward journey by the gridlocked landlubbers on the streets above. It has survived explosions, drownings, squabbles over land- ownership and attempted sell-offs to become the coolest commuter route in the capital.

Books: Love Letters To Lady Lazarus

Elegy, rhapsody, exculpation, exorcism - Ted Hughes's poems for Sylvia Plath will be endlessly debated. What's already clear is their brilliance

Learn about dinosaurs

WERE DINOSAURS lumbering giants, barely able to support their own weight, or were they active and fast-moving? These and many other revealing facts about the gargantuan creatures will be unearthed by Professor R McNeill Alexander, from the Zoological Society of London on Tuesday. Could be a roaring success. Aaaargh!

Property: Our friends in the north

Finsbury Park's still a bit iffy, but `Stokie' is definitely `u & c' and there's always Muswell Hill if you have the dosh, writes William Raynor

Restaurants: Neighbourhood watch

Hampstead's local heroes: It does not break new ground, stop the traffic or blast the doors off their frames, but it offers something almost as good: a confident, good-value, expertly run local restaurant Photographs by Morley von Sternberg

Graduate: When it costs a fortune to recruit a graduate, it makes sense to safeguard your investment

How to attract, choose and keep the best graduates: `The Independent' is sponsoring a two-day conference to reduce the costs of staff turnover.

Passed/Failed: Toyah Wilcox

Toyah Wilcox, 39, is the actress and singer who plays the hero in `Jack and the Beanstalk', opening today at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley. Her film work includes `Quadrophenia', `Jubilee' and `The Anchoress' and she has appeared in `Sugar and Spice' at the Royal Court, `Whale' at the National and `A Midsummer Night's Dream' at Regent's Park Theatre. Her albums include `Sheep Farming in Barnet' and `Toyah, Toyah, Toyah!' and for three years she toured with her husband, guitarist Robert Fripp, in the band Sunday All Over the World. Her album of `Cabaret' with Nigel Planer was released in May. She presents `The Holiday Programme' and `Fasten Your Seatbelts' on BBC1.

Christmas Gifts: Designer living

Graham & Green has been making an art of one-stop shopping for more than 20 years. Ideas spill out on to the street from the three shops situated on London's Elgin Crescent, just off the bustling Portobello Road. There are prices to suit most pockets, but, beware, you could part with a lot of money very easily.

The British Go Championship

Matthew Macfadyen has won the British Go Championship with three straight victories against Charles Matthews in the final. Go is the ancient board game that is the reason why so few Japanese and Koreans play chess. Simple rules - which dictate that the two players alternately place stones on a board to attempt to surround territory - leads to a game of astonishing complexity in which, at the highest level, intuition plays a greater part than precise calculation. Which is why computers can beat grandmasters at chess, but not at Go.

Letter: Cars: how to combat road congestion

Sir: Your photograph ("You, your car and how to end the affair", 19 August) of a young man cycling along a deserted path in Regent's Park eloquently demonstrates why more people do not cycle to work in London - what he is doing is illegal.

Children find woman's body in park

Police were trying to discover the identity of a woman whose body remained undiscovered in one of central London's most popular parks for up to three weeks. The dead woman was found by a group of children playing in dense shrubbery near the Queen Mary rose garden in Regent's Park on Wednesday. The woman was in a sitting position propped up against a tree.

Bumbling beekeepers breeding mite plague

``And is there honey still for tea?'' Perhaps not, in a few years - because many of Britain's beekeepers are failing to take a lethal parasite seriously.

Theatre: Pygmalion Albery Theatre, London Kiss Me Kate Regent's Park, London

"I've grown accustomed to her face," sings Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady, the musical version of Pygmalion. With three changes of director and Emily Lloyd's replacement, as Eliza, by a newcomer straight from drama school, simply recognising each other must be counted an achievement for the cast of this latest staging of the original Shaw play. Now steered into the West End by farceur Ray Cooney, the show is not as bad as you might expect and not as good as you have a right to expect. It's the kind of production for which the word "serviceable" might have been invented.
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
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11 best face powders

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England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

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Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
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Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

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Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

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America’s new apartheid

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