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A bothersome GDP breakdown

None of this proves that the UK recovery is unsustainable. But there is nonetheless enough in these ...

British politics is heading back to 1974

Suppose for a moment that you faced an upcoming General Election in which the governing Conservative...

The unpopularity of American power

I have a review of James Cronin’s new book, Global Rules, at Independent Voices. It is a high-...

Alex James: Goodbye, 'Star Wars', hello, Florence

There has been just one CD in the car CD player for the past two and a half years. I've got about a million songs in my phone but I like listening to music in the car, and in the car there is a choice of just 14 songs. That seems to be enough.

Alex James: What to do when confronted by a bull

When it comes to the countryside, despite all I've learned. I still rank as an idiot, a novice. I've only just discovered the difference between a swallow and a swift. (Swallows have red throats) However, I can and always have been able to spot a puffball at half a mile because they are delicious. It's about the right time of year for them and as there has been some rain I thought it would be worth extending my runaround to come back through the field where they grow.

Alex James: What a shame to miss bat man's visit

The trouble with leaving the farm is that it always means missing something. The bat man came while we were in Bournemouth and his report was a beautifully written, fascinating document. I knew it would be. He did a really excellent job. You could tell that he was an expert just from his name. There were so many letters before and after it. I really wanted to see if he looked bat-like, too. But we missed him.

Alex James: Sometimes, I long to be beside the sea

I landed, blinking through lack of sleep, for a three-day job, a fashion shoot in Hastings. Hastings is the other end of the world from the Cotswolds, not just the wrong side of London, another country altogether. As I arrived I was struck by the sight of large groups of men playing football in the middle of the day. Men as idle as the empty shops along the esplanade, as hopeless as the pier, the focal point of the place, derelict and slightly sinister, waiting for someone or something to come and breathe life and meaning back into it all.

Pizza perfection, here I come

Forty acres of wheat rising in the middle distance behind the cheese factory: I worked out a little while back that with the wheat and the cheese situation in hand I was in control of two of the three vital ingredients for making my favourite thing in the world, from scratch: All I needed for the perfect pizza now was a source of tomatoes.

Alex James: The rape of England

Notebook

Alex James: My irrational fear of the woods at night

I inadvertently discovered a new adrenaline sport a couple of weeks back: probably the oldest one of all – running through the woods at night. I've been basking in the long evenings, especially enjoying the calm of twilight but I mistimed it, set out on my rounds too late and got completely caught out, plunging headlong into darkness with, it has to be said, a certain amount of glee. I knew it was going to be a close-run thing when I set out so I had a head torch on but it was nothing at all like I expected.

Alex James: Play football, but don't watch it

Notebook

Alex James: Fox chase leads to a wild swim adventure

Rural Notebook

Alex James: No longer any need to emigrate to Provence

Rural Notebook
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Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?