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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee