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


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".

Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
3.	Provence 6 nights B&B by train from £599pp
Prices correct as of 20 February 2015
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003