Arifa Akbar: Some fictional characters are gay. Get over it

I was waiting for the Australian author, Christos Tsiolkas to begin his first UK event this week and, as the audience filed in from the drizzle, I noticed a particular absence in the room. That of women. It was just me until – phew – three others slunk in. Tsiolkas's reading at a Bloomsbury basement bar had been organised by the bookshop Gay's the Word, so the clue was in the title, but I was thrown at first, to be among an audience with shared affinities that reared themselves – fascinatingly – during the discussion.

The huge shoal of herring were swimming too close to the surface when the water suddenly froze around them, completely stopping them in their tracks and creating the incredible sight.

Harsh wind hits Norwegian bay so suddenly that thousands of fish are flash-frozen

The incredible image was captured from the tiny island of Lovund in central Norway after temperatures suddenly dipped, freezing the water and trapping the fish

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Sixty injured in piranha attack on Christmas Day

A seven-year-old girl lost part of her finger in the attack by a shoal of the meat-eating fish

The yellow wagtail has disappeared entirely from Wales

Birds that were once a common sight in Britain take flight, never to return

The sharp decline in some of Britain’s most common bird species is resulting for the first time in their disappearance from some parts of the United Kingdom, conservationists warn today.

Edwina Currie unveils the new version of the British Lion Code of Practice at Portcullis House in London

A safe pair of hands? Edwina Currie launches egg safety code

Edwina Currie, the former Health minister who once nearly bankrupted Britain’s egg producers, has been chosen to promote the new version of the red British Lion, which tells you that an egg is safe to eat.

World's oldest prehistoric toilet unearthed in Argentina

Fossilised dung left by megaherbivores 240-million years ago have been found clustered together

Elephant tusks smuggled into Thailand from Kenya. Thailand is yet to implement a legal framework to tackle the ivory trade

US to destroy entire six-ton stockpile of ivory in message to poachers – but experts say it could just make problem worse

There are fears destruction just increases value of remaining stockpiles on illegal markets

Sergei Rumyantsev, 55, at hospital in Borogontsy

Armed only with a small knife and a loyal dog, man beats bear in Siberian forest

Sergei Rumyantsev, 55, stabbed the animal in heart after he was attacked

Blinky from The Simpsons

Putin’s fish is big... but I’ve got a whopper: Battle of the rod-swinging rulers as President of Belarus lands 125lb catfish in Chernobyl exclusion zone

In a rod-swinging contest between hard-man rulers, Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, has outdone Russia’s Vladimir Putin by reeling in a real-life Blinky, the radioactive fish of The Simpsons fame.

The Fish & Chip Shop, 189 Upper Street, Islington, London

Des McDonald's name is legendary in the food business – the legends in question being Midas and Croesus. When Nick Lander published The Art of the Restaurateur last year, McDonald was one of its stars. An Irish baker's son, he opened two restaurants in the City of London by the age of 22 and become executive chef of Caprice Holdings, founded by Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, the chaps who triumphantly revamped The Ivy, Scotts of Mayfair, Le Caprice and J Sheekey.

Forthampton Court estate, above, home of the Yorkes, finds itself at the centre of the cull controversy

Clash over badger cull turning into 'class war': Activists set sights on 'landed gentry'

John Yorke can trace his family's roots back to the Normans. Like his ancestors, 74-year-old Mr Yorke farms the 3,000 acres of prime Gloucestershire agricultural land that forms the Forthampton Court estate. An Old Etonian and former High Sheriff of Herefordshire, Mr Yorke reluctantly finds himself and his lands at the epicentre of the Government's highly controversial badger cull.

The giraffe, despite its towering size, has the same number of bones in the neck as a human: seven. Valves in the neck prevent blood rushing to the head when they bend down to drink. They live in Africa’s grasslands and woodlands.

Who you calling ugly? Zoos prefer cute animals to less attractive species, research shows

Zoos are no place for ugly ducklings. Big, intelligent, good-looking animals are more likely to be found in zoos, irrespective of conservation needs, according to new research. While the red panda, big cats, elephants and giraffes are found in most zoos, there's no place for the pika, the golden mole or the rat kangaroo.

Gills’ Leon Legge wins a header

Gillingham 1 Accrington Stanley 0 match report: Matt Fish breathes life into Gills to stretch lead

Gillingham's League Two promotion charge stays on course, but Accrington's survival is in doubt

Hearing aid: An owl’s ears can detect a mouse under earth or snow

Paperback review: Bird Sense - What It's Like to Be a Bird, By Tim Birkhead

A bird-brained philosophy of science

Anthony Hilton: SFO is in a hole but it just goes on digging

There is surely something flawed in the decision by the Serious Fraud Office to hire Slaughter & May, the most expensive solicitors in London, to lead its defence against the action for wrongful arrest and damages brought by property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz.

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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 12 March 2015
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

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Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor