A guide to A-road Britian: A44

In his Home Counties youth, John Simister eschewed the epic challenge of venturing through 'Archers' country to Wales and the sea. Regretting that caution, he details here just what he missed

Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Shakespeare's Globe, London

During an opening-night downpour, Roger Allam's Falstaff suddenly segued into "Blow winds, and crack your cheeks..." The audience loved this, almost as much as they loved Doll Tearsheet vomiting over them a few minutes later (well, she has been drinking "too much canaries").

Lord Walker: Durable left-of-centre Conservative politician who served in government under Heath and Thatcher

Peter Walker was one of the great survivors of the Conservative Party, spanning the Heath and Thatcher eras. At the time of his voluntary retirement in 1990, a few months before Thatcher's downfall, no 20th century politician, apart from Churchill and Lloyd George, had served longer in Cabinets and Shadow Cabinets, and it was appropriate that he should call his memoirs Staying Power. Though he never held one of the "great" offices of state, the variety of posts that he did fill, and the timing of them, ensured that he made significant contributions to British public life, proving a minister of considerable executive efficiency. Political durability was not his only claim to fame. His earlier role as a successful city financier, particularly with Jim Slater, would alone have ensured him the attention of serious commentators.

The dead are not the only casualties of the conflict

For every soldier saluted as his coffin passes through Wootton Bassett, countless more have come home quietly to Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham. Since British troops deployed to Helmand, 1,282 have been wounded in action, of whom 378 suffered life-changing injuries.

Ruck and Maul: The banned played on – so is Worcester no longer part of the world?

It has been a while since our last episode of CSI Rugby, and the latest case is: when is a ban not a ban? This is how the European Rugby Cup tournament rules, as laid out in their participation agreement, defined the three-year suspension given to former Harlequins director of rugby Dean Richards: "... to suspend the Person from participating in any aspect of rugby union (including coaching, officiating, selection, team management, administration or promotion of rugby union, playing and training as part of a team or squad) in relation to the Tournament and other current and/or future events organised by ERC (and, subject to the applicable regulations of other relevant rugby authorities, in relation to rugby activities outside ERC's events) for the period of suspension..." The International Rugby Board agreed that the suspension fell under their "universality principle" so that it applied worldwide. It might be thought that Richards' recent advisory role for Worcester Rugby Club would fall within the definition of "participating in any aspect of rugby union" but the RFU's disciplinary officer, Judge Jeff Blackett, in consultation with the IRB decided otherwise.

Hill joins front-runner Ryan on Worcester's coaching shortlist

Richard Hill, one of the most highly qualified coaches in English rugby and a man who boasts a sound record of successful team-building, is the latest leading name to be linked with the vacancy at Worcester, whose relegation from the Guinness Premiership will be rubber-stamped by Twickenham as soon as the two-leg promotion final between Bristol and Exeter is decided. Hill spent time at Sixways last week and joins Dean Ryan, the front-runner, on a shortlist that is significantly shorter than appeared to be the case a few days ago.

Man jailed for brutal drug murder

A drug addict was sentenced to life in prison today for murdering a "vulnerable" and "much loved" father-of-three in a "vicious and brutal" attack.

Worcester flankers Cracknell and Collins banned

The Worcester flankers Chris Cracknell and James Collins were last night suspended for four weeks and a fortnight respectively for their part in an unedifying fracas that marred the end of their club's relegation match at Leeds last month.

Guinness Premiership round-up: Venter's Saracens triumph in the Tigers den

Saracens did their best to earn a home match against Northampton in the Guinness Premiership semi-finals, winning 32-23 away to the side guaranteed to finish first, Leicester, only for Saints' victory at London Irish to keep them in third place. The two sides will meet at Franklin's Gardens on Sunday. In the meantime, Brendan Venter's men can take satisfaction from being the first Saracens to win at Welford Road.

Newcastle sack director Bates

Newcastle have terminated the contract of rugby director Steve Bates with immediate effect.

Cameron is at home in the spotlight. Voters are still in the dark

For the second of his dispatches on the party leaders, Donald Macintyre followed David Cameron's campaign around the country – and found more questions raised than answered about the Tory leader's plans for Britain

Clubs taken down a peg after move for expansion

The politics of English rugby tends to run about as smoothly as Gordon Brown's meetings with "ordinary voters", so it was no surprise yesterday to see the Rugby Football Union demolish the Premiership fraternity's tentative moves towards an expansion of the top league and a temporary suspension of relegation with a single blow of its great clunking fist.

Ryan is favourite for Worcester job

Dean Ryan is the favourite to succeed Mike Ruddock as director of rugby at relegated Guinness Premiership club Worcester.

Ruddock resigns as Worcester director

Worcester director of rugby Mike Ruddock has resigned from his post at the Guinness Premiership club with immediate effect.

Peter Bills: Worcester are no great loss

Worcester's catastrophic relegation from the Guinness Premiership proves two points.

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