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Conservative image detoxified at last?

Labour’s lead over the Conservatives remains squeezed, at two points, little changed from last...

Poll alert

We have a ComRes opinion poll in tomorrow’s Independent on Sunday, shared with the Sunday Mirr...

Yvette Cooper blames Government for allowing British jihadis

Yvette Cooper linked British jihadists in Syria and Iraq with the Government’s having “s...

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

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor