Voices

Judging by the national mood, I would urge David Cameron to go to the polls now; the mood is good out there

Paul Giamatti as Harold Levinson and Poppy Drayton as Madeline in Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey Christmas Special TV Review: Christmas at Downton was a bit of a post-turkey snooze

There was a time when the Downton Abbey Christmas special might involve a lady revealing she was up the duff by the chauffeur, or a much-loved character croaking it in a car accident. This year, it was as if, chastened by reactions to their rape storyline, the writers were determined to include nothing even mildly dramatic. If you were looking for a good time to fit in that post-turkey snooze, 8.30pm till 10.30pm was your window.

Photography book review: Pierdom, By Simon Roberts (with an introduction by Francis Hodgson)

Simon Roberts has travelled the coastline of Britain to create a comprehensive and fascinating photographic record of the country’s remaining pleasure piers.

Raging fire devastates New Jersey boardwalk already hit by Superstorm Sandy

New Jersey resort towns were still in the process of rebuilding after Sandy hit a year previously

Costa Brava murder: British man arrested in Spain on suspicion of killing his father

A British man has been arrested on suspicion of killing his father at a Spanish camping site, police said.

About a boy: Liam James with Anna Sophia Robb in ‘The Way, Way Back’

Film review: The Way, Way Back (12A)

Last of the summer whine

End of the piers? Seaside structures plagued by high costs and neglect

Seaside piers across Britain are under threat from rising maintenance costs and rocketing insurance bills, according to new research.

Feet up: Taking the air on a Brighton pier in 1937

Radio review: 4 Extra At The Seaside - Pack my banjo, mother, we’re off to the beach

When working-class Londoners boarded the coach to begin their summer holiday they would have a whip-round, and as they pulled away they would throw coins through the windows to the poorer kids left behind.

Margate is one of Britain’s most deprived seaside towns

Deprived seaside towns to get funding boost

Ailing seaside towns are to receive almost £30m to boost growth, the Treasury has announced today, following statistics showing they suffer from above-average levels of deprivation.

'Abandoned to poverty': Skegness named most deprived seaside town

The birthplace of Butlins, which once attracted Britons from around the country to enjoy its “bracing” weather, is now the most deprived seaside resort in the country. Skegness has topped a list of the nation’s most impoverished coastal towns, in a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Mathew Baynton

My Edinburgh: Mathew Baynton - Why the Fringe is a good place to wear a gimp mask

Yesterday, in Edinburgh, I was walking alongside a lady wearing high heels and a gimp mask. Her, not me. No-one walking past batted an eyelid. She had no flyers in her hand or any evidence of being in a show. I think she’d worked out that Edinburgh in August is a great place to be if you want to dress up oddly and not get funny looks.

The Saturday Quiz answers

1. Simon and Garfunkel's The Concert in Central Park

The report, entitled Turning the Tide, called for action to revive the fortunes of seaside towns like Blackpool in Lancashire

'Dumping grounds for the poor': High levels of unemployment, drug addiction and teenage pregnancy leave British seaside towns locked in culture of 'poverty attracting poverty'

Britain now spends almost £2 billion-a-year on welfare payments in once-thriving seaside towns

Great escape: A crash course in summer holidays

School summer holidays are in full swing - but the Great British exodus to the sun is a relatively new invention

Where to go after a September city break in Rome – seaside or countryside?

Q. We are hoping to go to Rome in September for a long weekend. How easy would it be to extend the stay with a few days by the beach or in the countryside afterwards, to combine some culture with recharging the batteries? Claire Allard, Southampton

Eight injured as two trains crash into each other in Norwich

Greater Anglia service travelling at "low speed" hit an East Midlands train parked in station

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Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
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The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
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Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
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Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
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Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave 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
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Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
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Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
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Independent Travel
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