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.

Business Diary: Lloyds group bags former UKIP man

Lloyds Action Now, the pressure group that wants compensation for shareholders who have lost out due to the bank's takeover of HBOS, got a few headlines yesterday with its announcement of test cases against the Bank of England and the Treasury. But the Diary thought Adrian Lithgow, the group's spokesman, looked familiar. We were right: he is the same Adrian Lithgow who was forced to resign as head of communications for the UK Independence Party four years ago after pleading guilty to racially aggravated harassment and threatening behaviour. Lithgow got into a row with railway staff at Victoria Station in London, with a Yugoslavian member of staff suffering some particularly unpleasant abuse.

Herb Snitzer: Jazz gold (in monochrome)

When he was asked to photograph the great tenor saxophonist Lester Young in New York City in 1958, Herb Snitzer was just a young man with a camera.

The Millwall reject who has won his country's backing

Matt Jarvis's work ethic saw him overcome failure and reach the England squad. Sam Wallace speaks to those behind his rise

The Sultan of Zanzibar, By Martyn Downer

Funny, fast-moving and astounding, this biography goes way beyond what would be considered feasible in fiction.

The Forsythe Company, Sadler's Wells, London

As avant-garde meets disco, be afraid, be petrified

My Secret Life: Geoff Dyer, writer, 52

My parents are... Jack, a sheet-metal worker and Mary, a dinner lady, then a cleaner. He's 91 and she's 85. We Dyers are tenacious.

Bettina von Kameke reveals prison life through a lens

Some of Bettina von Kameke's images of male prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs jail could have been taken for a prison prospectus. A tidy cell is complete with a TV, desk and photos on the walls; an inmate relaxes on a comfy black sofa in a communal social area with pool tables; prisoners pump weights in the prison gym; others are playing a board game. But perhaps sadder is the face of an inmate peering through the small glass window of his closed cell door, watching other inmates playing ping pong.

Bolton sign Wheater from Boro

New Bolton signing David Wheater has been tipped by manager Owen Coyle to win back a place in the England squad.

Inside Lines: Hearn reveals his table plan for new ball-grabbing showpiece

The ubiquitous Barry Hearn, having scored heavily with darts and given snooker the kiss of life, now has a new sporting squeeze on his arm.

Outside Edge: On the piste, not under the table

If ever there was a sport that combined seasonal drinking with inclement weather conditions, it has to be table-sledging. This new sport was apparently dreamed up by a group of drunk students who became stuck in deep snow in a cabin in the Austrian Alps and decided that their only way out was to turn a table upside down and bomb down the slopes on it. Legend has it that when they got to the bottom, they turned it back over and carried on drinking. Now the Austrian ski resort of Kühtai has just staged the inaugural three-day Table-Sledging Championships. It's not known if the Bolton Mountain Rescue team are intending to enter the event next year but one of their members, Matthew Hailwood, had to be rescued by the North West Air Ambulance on Boxing Day after they had spent the day sledging on Rivington Pike. He sustained serious bruising and had been carried to the bottom of the hill on a stretcher, which came in handy since it was the stretcher that they had been using as a sledge.

David Flatman: Every club should have a mad man

From the Front Row: Whether it's a village idiot or the ones who can't stop smiling, our game is still full of festive cheer

Matt Jarvis: 'Our tackling has been blown out of proportion'

Matt Jarvis, who aims to fuel his England cause at Chelsea today, tells Sam Wallace Wolves are not dirty, just misunderstood

Exit, pursued by a camera: Backstage portraits offer a unique glimpse of stars relaxing at the Old Vic

Aformer stage hand at London's Old Vic theatre, Matt Humphrey, took advantage of his position backstage and asked the actors if he could photograph them in their dressing rooms and behind the scenes. His atmospheric shots of life backstage include a ghoulish-looking Rebecca Hall, as Hermione in The Winter's Tale, standing in the theatre's corridor, while Jessica Hynes holds her leg in a yoga pose in her dressing room before a performance of The Norman Conquests.

Delhi Diary: 09/10/2010

Today

2.30pm England in table tennis final

Paul Drinkhall was the hero for England in yesterday's thrilling semi-final victory against India. They now face a strong Singapore team in today's final.

Voices
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