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.

Jeremy Hunt: The Culture Secretary is hoping to harness Olympic fervour to get more people into sport

Thousands of adults hang up their boots

Number of Britons participating in major sports has declined dramatically since 2009

Welfare reforms clear Parliament

Prime Minister David Cameron has hailed "an historic step in the biggest welfare revolution in over 60 years" after the Government's controversial reforms cleared Parliament.

Owen Farrell is tackled by Wales' George North

England v Wales player ratings

Man-for-man marking from the Six Nations match at the Twickenham in London

Simon Kelner: How C for Cancer became C for Cautious Optimism

A close friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer last year, and just before Christmas he had a very complicated and lengthy operation to remove his bladder. A little more than two years ago, I had a far less serious operation to excise one of my kidneys after I, too, had been diagnosed with cancer.

Simon Kelner: A renaissance man and a much-overlooked sport

Not long after Fabio Capello had resigned in the time-honoured fashion of being thrown overboard, we were discussing the big sporting question of the moment: why has table tennis never taken off as a television sport, given that everything from darts and snooker to pro-celebrity golf has had its moment?

Bold design: 'I've always believed colour is the most accessible anti-depressive available', says Adler

Village life: Designer Jonathan Adler's Manhattan apartment is anything but boring

I've always believed colour is the most accessible anti-depressive available." So declares interior designer Jonathan Adler, boldly – and anyone familiar with his equally bold home furnishings won't doubt the earnest nature of that pronouncement. Adler adores colour, and it shows in his own living space.

'I was equally good at tennis,' says Baggaley, 'but you need a lot of money to play tennis'

Andrew Baggaley: It's time for Britain to turn the tables

He is Britain's No 1 table tennis player but believes we need another Desmond Douglas

Polar Bear, The Vortex, London

In the six years since their second album, Held On The Tips Of Fingers, was nominated for the Mercury Prize, Polar Bear have become an institution on the UK jazz scene, without sacrificing one shred of the inquisitive spirit that brought them to widespread attention.

Ping Pong: The tables have turned

From Dave'n'Barack to trendy club nights and Boris's wiff waff, we can't get enough of ping pong. Howard Jacobson sings the praises of a great game, while Will Dean looks at the healthy state of table tennis in Britain

Second ticket rush for London 2012

A further 2.3 million tickets for London 2012 are to go on sale next Friday.

Obama: He came, he spoke, he conquered Westminster

The smooth rhetoric of the US President's address to Parliament won him a standing ovation. But the speech also made two important points

Diary: Boris exposed as wiff-waff 'cheat'

Much coverage yesterday of alleged babydaddy Boris Johnson's ping-pong playing at a London school. What the Mayor doesn't publicise, however, is that he prefers to stack the odds in his favour. Johnson revealed to a reporter this week that Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson had challenged him to a swimming race. But, as Stephenson explained to Nick Ferrari on LBC Radio yesterday, that gauntlet was only thrown down after the Mayor thrashed him at table tennis. Johnson has been known to construct an impromptu "wiff-waff" table at City Hall, by pushing desks together and using a pile of books as a net. Stephenson admits to being "palpably hopeless" at the sport.

The Great Escape, Assorted venues, Brighton

Brighton's answer to the South by South-West festival has, it appears, already outgrown its roots. Five years ago it was about showcasing new bands, though now, in summer festival style, it's wilfully drawing bigger crowds with established names. Hence, punters find themselves in the quandary of whether to follow the A&R trail and take a chance on the untried acts, or face the long and inordinately slow-moving queues in order to see the stars.

Business Diary: Sound advice for borrowers

You've seen the movie (played out in real time over the past 12 months), now read the book. Jason Manolopoulos's new tome, Greece's Odious Debt: The Looting of the Hellenic Republic by the Euro, the Political Elite and the Investment Community, is an enjoyable romp through the story of how Greece got caught out in the international economic crisis. It begins with a tip from Aristotle Onassis, which his countrymen appear to have taken just a little too literally: "To be successful, keep looking tanned, live in an elegant building (even if you're in the cellar), be seen in smart restaurants (even if you only nurse one drink) and if you borrow, borrow big".

Market turns on bloated Google

The internet giant's revenues are up, but costs are up even more, and investors are not happy. Nick Clark reports
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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
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Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
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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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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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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