Arts and Entertainment

Of all the subjects for a thrilling tale of espionage, war and diplomacy, ping-pong seems an unlikely contender. All the more intriguing then is the story behind a détente between America and China in 1971, which occurred seemingly out of the blue after 22 years of hostility.

Richard Garner: PISA test results are a disappointment but we should look to the future

There is no way that the results of this year’s international PISA test results can be summed up as anything other than a disappointment for the UK.

Raffaele Sollecito's defence lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno

Meredith Kercher murder retrial: Amanda Knox is guilty, says the man she falsely accused

But the American accused of killing a UK student has no intention of leaving the safety of the US to return to Italy

Craig Johnston was part of Liverpool's 1986 double-winning squad

Blades of gory: The story of 'lethal' hybrid boots that caused injury to Wayne Rooney

The former Liverpool player Craig Johnston invented concept but says evolving footwear could now end a career

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College

History: Founded in 1960 as Filton Technical College. In February 2012, the college merged with Stroud College and was renamed South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.

Travel Agenda: The Refinery in New York City; new Generator Hostel opens in Berlin and new range of travel luggage by Knomo

From hip Berlin hostels to luxury luggage and Wallace & Gromit's Thrill-o-Matic ride

Gary, left, and Lee Johnson will be in opposite dugouts tonight

Once-in-a-generation game: More than family honour at stake for Gary and Lee Johnson who will be in opposing dug-outs tonight

Clash between father and son managers could decide the fate of Yeovil and Oldham

Andy McSmith's Diary: Another Tory MP red-faced after accidental porn tweet

The lurid mix of a Twitter, pornography and a Tory MP has struck again, though this time the MP is not to blame. Rob Wilson, MP for Reading East, was making a point about David Bennett, the market trader who challenged Iain Duncan Smith to live off £53 a week, though his weekly income is not £53 as he implied, but £156. To help spread the message, Rob Wilson tweeted using a link supplied by someone at Conservative headquarters. Unfortunately, because of what the Tories euphemistically call a "technical hitch", the link users to a hard core pornography site.

HARRY POTTER: The House of Lords, too, is a Chamber of Secrets

Peer film review – it's the House of Lords cinema

It seems that Tory and Lib Dem party managers have come up with an ingenious way of making tired peers stay late for crunch votes in the House of Lords.

Luol Deng wrote to the Prime Minister

Basketball wins Olympic funding reprieve

Table tennis, indoor volleyball, sitting volleyball and wrestling miss out

Restaurant review: Bounce, 121 Holborn, London EC1

Normally when I'm shown to a far-flung table in a deserted corner by the loos, I'm tempted to complain to the management. But never have I felt more grateful for a Siberian placement than at Bounce, where our table was for table tennis. Thanks to our isolation, the wild flailings, reckless volleys and inter-generational conflict of our family ping-pong game went largely unnoticed by the early adopters who fill this super-cool new bar.

The Boy With Tape On His Face, The Duchess Theatre, London

Kiwi mime artist Sam Wills tops off his Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award success earlier this year with a West End run of his winning show: a sweet treat, perfect for the season of goodwill and frivolous entertainment.

London table tennis club Bounce is among the more stylish venues for playing the game, which is enjoyed by fans including Elle Macpherson

Ping-pong comes home - in style

The game invented in Britain is gaining new fans and going upmarket

Friday 31 August: Shooting
Jonas Jacobsson

Paralympics 2012: Six of the best to watch...

Friday 31 August: Shooting

Paralympic profile: Natalia Partyka, table tennis

Those who paid even passing attention to the Olympics – and that means most of us – have probably heard of Oscar Pistorius, South Africa’s “blade runner” who made headlines worldwide by qualifying for both sets of London Games. The name Natalia Partyka, by contrast, will mean little to all but a few, even though the Polish table tennis player will complete the same remarkable double in a few days time.

Luke Blackall: Staying in with my new friends Gabby Logan, Clare Balding and Ian Thorpe

Man About Town: Fancy a game of ping pong between courses?
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
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Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect