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

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.

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.

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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
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No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor