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.

First Night: Derren Brown: The Event Live, C4

Come in Derren Brown, your number's up

Boys 'planned Columbine anniversary massacre'

Court told teenagers intended killing spree at Manchester school

Adrian Hamilton: Two-party politics is doing us no good

On the big questions the Tories and Labour seem determined to avoid any debate at all

Travel Challenge: A peak-season family camping holiday in France

Every week we invite competing companies to give us their best deal for a particular holiday. Today: a one-week campsite holiday in France. Prices are for departures on 1 August for a family of up to six people and include return Dover-Calais ferry crossings for one car.

Ping-Pong: The latest hip Hollywood pastime

Forget its nerdy past – table tennis is now officially cool, with Hollywood A-list stars among its new army of fans. Emily Dugan reports

Alan Hubbard: Olympic shame as 'minority' sports miss out

The Last Word: Target-obsessed Government in firing line as ethos of what the Games are all about is shot to pieces

Triumph of the bumbarrel (aka the long-tailed tit)

Run of mild winters propels tiny bird into top 10 of British garden birds

Brian Viner: The whole thing was what you might call a baa-baa ha-ha hoo-hah

As usual, we awoke on Tuesday morning to the sound of bleating, although it was not the "where is my rugby shirt/history homework?" kind of bleating to which we are so accustomed in the tumultuous hour between 6.30am and 7.30am. No, this was definitely ovine bleating, which was not in itself a surprise – not with the perimeter of a 1,000-acre sheep farm all of 30 yards from the marital bed. But this bleating seemed more insistent than usual, and sure enough, there were half a dozen lambs trapped on our side of the fence in what we grandly call the ha-ha, all going ballistic, in their woolly way. It was what you might call, although not after too much Herefordshire cider, a ha-ha hoo-hah. Indeed, a baa-baa ha-ha hoo-hah.

Irish can raid Midlands with Badgerlaw

It's back to the day job this afternoon for the week's gallant gladiators, with Uttoxeter the main arena and the Midlands Grand National the top prize. Run over nearly four and a quarter miles, this is a contest which requires as much stamina as a four-day Cheltenham Festival and produces a similar attrition rate. Over the past six runnngs 101 horses have taken part; just 42 have lasted to the finishing post.

How hard is it to move house?

Very, says Jonathan Christie, who has kept a diary of his struggle to sell up

Snow Patrol - a band of brothers

Most rock stars hate being cooped up on the tour bus. But for Snow Patrol it's all fun and games, as Elisa Bray finds out

Banks rescue bill set to become law

A "ping-pong" between the two Houses of Parliament was avoided today, when peers accepted a Commons change to the Banking Bill, which now goes for Royal Assent.

Inside Lines: Gordon gets volley of protest from forgotten sports of 2012 funding

Pleas to Downing Street usually get short shrift – ask the friends of still plain Mister Bruce Forsyth – but the lower echelons of British sport are hoping that their protest to the PM over the absence of pre-2012 funding won't be given the seasonal Scrooge treatment by a grumpy Gordon. Organised by the volleyball player Lucy Wicks, a petition set up on the No 10 website has over 2,000 signatures from representatives of the eight Olympic sports, including volleyball (in whichBritain make their world championships debut in Sheffield this weekend), table tennis and shooting, that have missed out on a share of the £292 million given to other sports featuring in 2012. Not until the end of the month will they know if they will get a few crumbs from the table – if anything, says Wicks, 26. "All sports for which funding has not been clarified find their programmes threatened, and we are now in danger of being unable to pursue our dreams of competing in 2012. Our dedication is being ignored. We want the Government to keep its promises to help us provide a legacy."

Graeme Swann: 'It all went a bit crazy. My head spun when I took the second'

Graeme Swann is considering forming an exclusive club after his remarkable introduction to Test cricket. The dinner table will not be particularly crowded when the star attractions eventually get together, as Swann became only the second bowler in the history of Test cricket to take two wickets in his first over when he dismissed India's Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid on the stroke of tea.

Net gains: How table tennis improves pupils; health and behaviour

Children's work, behaviour and even health can be improved by getting them involved in playing table tennis. Could the transformation seen in Glaswegian schools be replicated elsewhere?
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Lake Garda, Venice & Verona from £629pp
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Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

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La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

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From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
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