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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Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
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Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
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By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

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Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
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Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
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New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

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Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
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New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

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Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

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Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
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The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

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The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
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A Syrian general speaks

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‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

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Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

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History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
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There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes