Arts and Entertainment

Given our national obsession with property prices, Tim Walker’s novel is bound to hit a nerve. His fictional couple, the Manvilles, bought their large north London home at a knock-down price in the 1990s, and it became the key to two aspects of their family life. Jerry, a successful advertising executive, undertook all the original plumbing, electrical and redecoration work; Pen devised a series of popular children’s books, The House on the Hill, whose “cheeky brat with the ridiculous schemes” is modelled on, and named after, her real-life son Conrad: 15 years on, they have done a loft conversion, and divorced.

Let's go to the hops, everybody

It used to be a working summer holiday for impoverished Eastenders. But a determined bunch of assorted characters still descends on Kent every September to pick hops. By Mark Piggott

UCAS Listings: `It was designed to cover a lot of ground - it was hard work'

Economics, conservation, marketing and animal science were all covered in Diana Pritchard's agricultural degree

Travel: Competition - Literally Lost No 38

The following excerpt has been taken from a work of travel literature. Readers are invited to tell us: a) where is the action taking place? b) who is the author? Blackwell's Bookshops will supply pounds 30 of book-tokens each week to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, "Independent on Sunday", 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Usual competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by this Thursday.

How Serbs made a village vanish

THE SERBS made sure they removed the dead and wounded before they let the outside world see Prekaz, the village in Kosovo that they had bombarded for three days. But the evidence of destruction was all too evident: houses peppered with bullet marks and what looked like shell holes, whole walls ripped down, doorways and roofs blasted to pieces and reduced to black, smouldering wrecks.

Archers star designs his own death

THERE WAS a distinct whiff of Thomas Hardy about the Archers last night, writes Paul McCann. John Archer had given up his wild ways - by Archers standards - to propose to his loved one Hayley. A happy ending looked in the offing. And then it was John himself who was offed by a tractor.

The kiss of death in Ambridge

YOU could tell John Archer had it coming to him. It wasn't his affair with a single mother and a recently cranked-up social life - admittedly more spoken about than actually heard on air - that cursed him. Because it is not moral retribution Archers characters need worry about - it is moving centre stage that gets the Tippex hovering over their name on scripts.

Letter: Vain plea

Am I supposed to take placards imploring us to save British farming, mounted on imported tractors, seriously?

Letter: Changing countryside

This country-dweller is sick of having his views "represented" by others. First it was the hunting lobby. Now I see that the Country Landowners Association and the National Farmers Union are claiming to speak for me ("When the wrath of the country people will be set ablaze", 7 February).

Safety: Sharp rise in farm accidents

Safety inspectors called for a change in culture on Britain's farms after a survey revealed that workers risk their lives by using defective machinery.

Farmers vow to block Dover with tractors

Farmers protesting against beef imports plan to step up their blockade of ports today, one of the busiest days for meat imports from the Irish Republic.

Games: Odd Books

After much deliberation, The Bookseller has awarded its annual "Diagram Prize" for the Oddest Title of the Year. The prize has gone, rather surprisingly, to The Joy of Sex: Pocket Edition, ahead of The Prostate: A Guide for Men and the Women who Love Them, and Method for Calculating the Size of Stone Needed for Closing End-Tipped Rubble Banks in Rivers. This year's short-list had displayed an unusual level of sensitivity by including Interpersonal Violence: The Practical Series, and Attractive and Affectionate Grave Design, though there was considerable surprise that the strongly tipped From Coherent Tunnelling to Relaxation was not featured among the top three.

Woman in parachute terror

A woman was suspended from power cables for 90 minutes when she drifted off-course during a charity parachute jump at Netheravon, Wiltshire, yesterday.

Science: Farmers to field a driverless tractor

A driverless tractor steered by satellite that can find its own way around a crop field with pinpoint precision could help to usher in a "third agricultural revolution", it was claimed yesterday. Researchers at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, expect the tractor to be the first of a new generation of fully automated farm and construction vehicles.

Obituary: Jimmy McGinley

Albeit they had had a good result the year before in the by-election at Glasgow Bridgeton, it was the 9,750 votes in the by-election in West Lothian in May 1962 that launched the resurgence of the Scottish National Party. (Dr Robert McIntyre, the then SNP chairman, had represented Motherwell for a fleeting period at the end of the Second World War.)

Stone coffin holds Roman remains

A stone coffin thought to contain the remains of a high-ranking Roman official has been unearthed on the site of a housing development in the West Country.
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Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam