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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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee