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.
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
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FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Dennis Rodman has confirmed he is not going to the Middle East to 'talk to with the leaders of Isis' as claimed in a recent satirical report
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musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
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Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam