Environment The Nathusius’ pipistrelle weighs just 7.6g and is the size of a human thumb

A tiny bat the size of a human thumb has become the first to be recorded crossing the North Sea from Britain to mainland Europe – before meeting an untimely end in the Netherlands.

Getting on the map

The people of Orkney don't speak Gaelic (and never have), do have electricity and their eyebrows don't join in the middle. But could a mainlander tell you that?

Brown scraps plan to raise an extra pounds 3bn from oil tax

THE CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown last night suffered an embarrassing U-turn when he bowed to overwhelming pressure from the oil industry and dropped plans to raise up to pounds 3bn by tightening the North Sea tax regime.

Letter: The films we don't get to see

THE continuing growth in cinema attendances is to be celebrated ("Record high for cinema", 3 May), but is the 39 million audience provided with more choice? Hardly. Film magazine (September 1996) pointed out that Glasgow had three cinemas in a three-mile radius offering a total of 23 screens, yet 11 of those were occupied by just three films. How many of the 128 British films produced in 1996 did the multiscreens show? How many foreign-language films? And for how long? Apart from the handful of Regional Film Theatres, the only outlet for such films are the 250 film societies in the UK. From Shetland to Jersey these deliver an annual audience of well over 1 million.

Obituary: Sir Matthew Campbell

THE LAST Secretary of the old Department of Agriculture for Scotland who became the first head in 1962 of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Matthew Campbell was an austere and extremely competent civil servant. However, his claim to lasting fame was his work from 1951 to 1954 as Secretary of the Taylor Committee which created the Crofters' Commission.

What the folk's going on?

When Madonna goes all earth mother, you know it's serious. Get out that acoustic guitar and hand-spun smock, put flowers in your hair and prepare for a summer of Lovin' Spoonful, says Howard Byrom

my tech; Technophobe? Well, I like a good juke-box

In the first of a new series, Simon Day of `The Fast Show' talks to Jennifer Rodger about his favourite gadget - an Audiolab 8000A amplifier

Travel: Scotland - Listen, but try to keep your head

Jon Winter goes on a musical tour with an undertone of violence

What, when, where?

Go north to the Shetland Islands and party in style at the Up- Helly-Aa fire festival in Lerwick, a reminder of the days when Norse settlers celebrated the end of the yule holidays. Bands of guisers (Shetlanders in Viking kit) led by their chief, the Guiser Jarl, parade town before setting alight a 30-ft longship in the harbour. Viking revelry follows throughout the night at various venues, including the Town Hall, which stipulates that stiletto heels are not allowed, although presumably spiky helmets are. Up-Helly-Aa takes place on Tuesday 27 January. More information from the Shetland Islands Tourism Office (01595 693434).

Health: Pollution not to blame for childhood asthma

Teenagers are more likely to suffer from asthma in the clean air of rural Britain than they are in the polluted inner cities. Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, examines a study which suggests the disease cannot be blamed on climate, diet or air quality.

Chaos as fierce gales ravage Britain

Fierce gales of up to 80mph have caused chaos throughout Britain, with flooding, power cuts and bridge closures, and sporting events and ferry services being cancelled.

Two die as gales ravage Britain

Fierce gales caused chaos across Britain yesterday, causing widespread flooding, power cuts and bridge closures. Sports events and ferry services were also disrupted.

Friday's book: Black & Blue by Ian Rankin

Last night, in the apt surroundings of the Law Society, Ian Rankin won the coveted Gold Dagger of the Crime Writers Association for his ninth Inspector Rebus mystery, Black & Blue. Now here's one judging panel that knows how to please its patrons. "The aroma of the whisky was fine," muses Rankin's bibulous Edinburgh detective in a typical bar-propping moment, "smoky, filling nostrils and lungs." The CWA awards are sponsored by The Macallan.

Coastguards aid crew of second stricken ship

Coastguard rescuers were standing by to airlift the crew of a 1000-tonne bulk carrier last night - only 24 hours after a helicopter winchman was lost at sea. The Minoan Bay was in difficulties in the storm- lashed waters off Scotland's northern coast. A tug was trying to fix a line to the Maltese-registered vessel in the Pentland Firth, off Orkney.

Labour war on Scottish sleaze

Labour plans to introduce a "new breed" of politician for the devolved Scottish parliament in a bid to stamp out sleaze north of the border.

Blair stirs up Home Rule vote

Tony Blair yesterday tried to work his personal magic on a jittery campaign for Scottish home rule, telling voters they had "nothing to be frightened of, except fear itself".
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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