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.

Sale, 23 Gloucester, 9: Sale do the hard yards before Chabal adds the gloss

sale Sharks' record breaking victory over Gloucester was perhaps the best example yet of why rugby's new laws are becoming loathed by supporters across the land. This encounter saw Sale become the first team not to concede a try in four successive Premiership matches and while this worthy record needs to be applauded, Sale director of rugby Phillipe Saint-Andre and opposite number Dean Ryan both raised concerns afterwards about the new ruck law which turned this tie into a glorified kick-a-thon.

Ask Martha: What do I wear to a christening?

Got a social dilemma? Martha Arthur has the answer...

Inside Singapore: No jumping aboard the Orient excess

Bandwagon-jumping seems to have become Britain's newest Olympic sport back home, where thoughts should instead be turningto another spot of gold prospecting in Far East. Next up in the international multisportsfest is the Youth Olympics, to be held here in 2010. As none of Britain's 19 Beijing winners will be eligible (the age limit is 14-18) this will be the first real test of a return on the Government's promised investment in youth sport. That is, if the impending recession hasn't forced a rethink on funding as well as an embarrassing cutback in London's 2012 budget. Roughly the size of the Isle of Wight, Singapore was hardly a sporting oasis when we worked here in the Eighties. Education was paramount and sport a non-starter. But hosting the bid for 2012 convinced Singapore that big-time sport could boost the economy. In fact it is more a reality cheque, as the Youth Olympics won't be another journey aboard the Orient Excess. The Games plan has had to be changed because the new "sports hub" won't be ready and costs are running two-and-a-half times over budget.

John Rentoul: Brown will be ditched. But when?

Labour does not need to lose another by-election to know that it is all over for this Prime Minister

Dom Joly: Beautiful Blanka out of reach in the village of sin

As the Games draw to a close, my thoughts turn to sex, a stunning Croatian and the art of aiming high

Dom Joly: Pupils of secret ping-pong academies in the mystic hills leave you in a trance

On a day when the Fuwa are not quite synchronised the table tennis players produce a hypnotic standard of play

Preview: Dartington International Summer School, Dartington Hall, Totnes

It's finally back to school for Maxwell Davies

WALL-E (U)

Out of this world

Diary of a Primary School Mum: 'Then I get the phone call every mother dreads...'

Dust is being wiped off baby toys for the summer fete when the phone rings. "Hello, is that Claire's mummy?" It's the call no mother wants to receive. Claire's at school, this sounds like Miss Perry, bad news is clearly coming. My heart goes into freefall and the jack-in-a-box resting in my palm tumbles to the floor. "It's Miss Perry," says the caller. Worst fears are confirmed. My mouth dries up like the Sahara. Unable to speak, I let Miss Perry continue. "There's been a bit of an accident in the playground. Claire and another child collided with one another and she's got a bit of a bump. We're putting a cold compress on it, but she says she's feeling a bit dizzy. Do you want to pick her up?"

The 5-minute Interview: Betty Jackson, fashion designer

'I'd come back as a man, it's easier for them'

China puts positive spin on relations with Japan

Pandas and ping-pong helped sweeten politics yesterday on day three of the Chinese President Hu Jintao's state trip to Japan, which is warming frigid ties between the two old enemies despite being marred by controversy over Tibet.

John Swannell: 40 years of portraits from a modern master

He may not be as famous as David Bailey but his portfolio is a celebrity Who's Who of the past four decades. From a tricky Spike Milligan to a jumping John Gielgud, John Swannell has snapped them all

Bristol City 2 Hull City 1: Adebola keeps Johnson's men on promotion pace

If a manager from foreign shores was in charge at Bristol City we would praise the progressive nature of his techniques – and then probably damn the state of the English game for not producing such men.

The 5-minute Interview: Lang Lang, Pianist

'I don't care for technique when I play'

Illegal immigrant who became TV's top dog

Cesar Millan, a Mexican who illegally crossed into the United States 20 years ago, appears to be just another ambitious entrepreneur exploiting man's obsession with pampering their pets. He runs a business in Los Angeles, after all, called the "Dog Psychology Centre".

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Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us