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

HOW WE MET; SALLY BRAMPTON AND JASPER CONRAN

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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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee