Friday, June 18, 2010

Harlequins 13 Northampton Saints 6: match report

By Nick Pearce at the Twickenham Stoop Published: 5:34PM GMT twenty February 2010

Harlequins thirteen Northampton Saints 6: compare report Full force: Harlequins" Chris Robshaw (right) is tackled by Northampton"s Ben Foden Photo: GETTY IMAGES

A arrangement of unrestrained and role from Harlequins put a hole in Northamptons pretension ambitions after an uncharacteristically bad opening from the visitors on a glacial afternoon in the capital.

The tinge was set from the initial alarm with Quins rising themselves in to each plunge into with propensity and they showed a little genuine aggressive verve. As a outcome they took the lead after usually 3 mins around a Nick Evans penalty.

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Returning skipper Will Skinner epitomized their bid and his eager acclaim after his side won a scrum warranted him a punch from Juandre Kruger that wasnt longed for by the referee. Evans stepped up to take on the chastisement from the ten-metre line and strike it sweetly to magnify his sides lead.

The Saints England hopefuls Ben Foden and Chris Ashton so electric in new weeks were the victims of a little suffocating home counterclaim and the examination Ugo Monye can be assured of maintaining his place in the behind 3 to one side Delon Armitage.

Northampton looked to be abandoned of ideas and outlayed majority of the initial duration in their own half. And at the finish of the opening entertain Quins done their prevalence equate by scoring the games usually try by Mike Brown.

A cross-field flog from Evans was claimed by David Strettle who looked inside to feed Brown usually for the full-back to be hold up agonisingly short.

But from the ensuing five-metre scrum Evans and George Lowe total to put Brown over for a deserved score.

Stephen Myler endured a formidable afternoon and after blank his opening 3 kicks he was presented with dual easier chances following the mangle that were duly finished with to put Northampton inside of a converted try.

Mylers contrast time on the margin was finished on the hour symbol when Shane Geraghty transposed him and the surrogate playmaker supposing Northampton with some-more citation but unfortunately an similarly bad lapse with the boot.

Two aggressive line-outs low in Quins domain gave the Saints a last possibility at withdrawal with some-more than a losing reward point but on both occasions the hosts stubborn counterclaim hold out.

Remarking on his sides initial joining win given December, John Kingston, the Harlequins head coach, said: "The power of the opening from the guys was superb today. I dont think they probably got the rewards that their prevalence deserved."

Match details

Harlequins: M Brown; D Strettle, G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, T Williams (S Smith 58); N Evans, K Dickson; C Jones, M Cairns (C Brooker 74), J Andress, J Percival, L Stevenson, C Robshaw, W Skinner [capt], T Guest. Northampton: B Foden; C Ashton, J Clarke (C Mayor 64), J Downey, P Diggin; S Myler (S Geraghty 59), L Dickson; S Tongauiha, B Sharman (A Long 64), E Murray (B Mujati 59), I Fernandez-Lobbe (M Easter 55), J Kruger, C Lawes (S Gray 79), N Best, P Dowson [capt]. Referee: JP Doyle (RFU)

Liverpools Dirk Kuyt ready to reel in arch rivals Manchester City

By Duncan White Published: 5:48PM GMT twenty February 2010

Manchester City v Liverpool will figure the Premier League run-in Hard times: Claims that Manchester City brazen Craig Bellamy has depressed out with Roberto Mancini have been strongly denied by the City physical education instructor Photo: ACTION IMAGES

The compare in between Manchester City and Liverpool on Sunday afternoon is set up to be one of those highly-charged tipping points.

In the competition for fourth, and the on trial resources it brings with gift for the Champions League, this is a tie that will figure the run-in.

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With reports suggesting Craig Bellamy has depressed out with Roberto Mancini (denied by the City manager), Carlos Tevez on unfixed merciful leave in Argentina after the beforehand bieing born of his kid and Patrick Vieira dangling for 3 matches for aroused control opposite Stoke last week, City could do with a little great news.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have been creation what competence pleasantly be called attritional swell up the table, returning to fortitude after a miserable winter.

Thursday night"s win over Romanian bar Unirea in the Europa League was soul-sappingly lifeless but it brought with it an additional purify sheet, definition Liverpool have conceded only once in 9 hours.

Going in to the weekend, Manchester City were in receive of fourth spot, a point on tip of Liverpool with a diversion in hand. Both managers will judged on either they grasp Champions League gift for subsequent season.

Needless to say, both clubs are feeling the pressure.

"It"s only a unequivocally big diversion and if we can win this diversion we will be behind in it and if we lose it we have a big problem," pronounced Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool"s sedulous far-reaching midfielder.

"We all see behind a integrate of months ago and we would have elite to be in a improved on all sides than this on all sides but at the finish of the day it is what it is and we have to try and win this diversion and try to finish in the tip 4 and we think we have the peculiarity to do that."

This diversion additionally represents a incomparable struggle. When people simulate on the story of these dual clubs in the future, this could be seen as a passing from one to another season.

Liverpool is a bar struggling to cling to on to the grand status, undermined by owners who have plunged the bar in to debt and by a miss of citation for the future. City, by contrast, are flourishing by the week, seeking to turn a European superclub.

The shift in standing can be totalled by the send of Gareth Barry to Eastlands last summer. He had prolonged been courted by Liverpool after being identified as a deputy for Xabi Alonso but finished up selecting City when he in the future left Aston Villa.

Sure, he would consequence some-more income with City but Barry is no dope and he was as majority sole on the aspiration coursing by his new club.

Liverpool"s players have come out in unapproachable counterclaim of their bar this week, though. There is no subject that pulling on the red shirt and personification at Anfield still has an iconic cachet that is a pull for players with a clarity of the story of the game.

Kuyt added: "The story of Liverpool is much, majority bigger and each right away and again you see clubs you do things similar to Manchester City right away and Chelsea a integrate of years ago. It happens but it"s really formidable to buy the story of Liverpool.

"I don"t know either some-more players will stick on City for the money. For each player it"s a opposite situation. I think the majority critical thing for a player is to win trophies and be successful as a football player.

"I think at the impulse players think they can win trophies with Manchester City and of march they will regularly think about their family and money, but I don"t think that"s the main regard for majority players.

"I think all can assistance in football and experience is really critical but for us the majority critical thing is we can see at ourselves as a lot improved right away than a integrate of months ago. So that will give us certainty for Sunday. It is a big conflict but everyone is seeking brazen to these kind of games.

"We have the experience to come from this on all sides and the majority critical thing is we are on a great run but surrender most goals. We are winning games in a row and that is giving us certainty that we can do it. We will be ready."

AAAS: Batteries are included as clothing promises to charge up gadgets

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent Published: 5:45PM GMT twenty February 2010

Batteries are enclosed as wardrobe promises to assign up gadgets While still in the early stages of development, Dr Cui believes that wardrobe coated in the ink could be used to yield rechargeable wearable appetite reserve for soldiers whilst in conflict as well as giving tool lovers a approach of charging up their devices.

Engineers at Stanford University have found that they can spin fabrics and typical paper in to lightweight batteries simply by cloaking them in ink laced with little tubes of carbon.

The tubes, well known as single-walled CO nanotubes, when bound onto fabrics such as string were found to be rarely fit at storing appetite whilst still superfluous pliant and pliant identical to normal fabric.

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Dr Yi Cui, from the dialect of materials scholarship and engineering at Stanford University, in California, believes such materials could be used to emanate wearable batteries that can assign up unstable inclination such as mobile phones and MP3 players whilst on the move.

Paper coated in the conductive ink could additionally emanate new forms of relocating displays for walls and absolute lightweight batteries.

Dr Cui, who was presenting his investigate at the annual assembly of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Saturday, said: "Energy storage is a flattering old field. Recently, we proposed to think about how to have batteries in a really opposite approach from before.

"The beauty of this is that it combines the lowest cost record that you can find to the high tech nanotechnology to furnish something great."

While still in the early stages of development, Dr Cui believes that wardrobe coated in the ink could be used to yield rechargeable wearable appetite reserve for soldiers whilst in conflict as well as giving tool lovers a approach of charging up their devices.

Unlike required batteries, that make make use of of chemicals to store energy, the nanotubes make make use of of electrostatic storage, a materialisation identical to the set up up of physical phenomenon in a immobile shock, that is some-more fit that containing alkali appetite storage.

Dr Cui believes with the stream record square of fine cloth weighing about the same as an normal T-shirt could hold up to 3 times some-more appetite than a mobile phone battery, but he hopes that in the destiny this can be increasing further.

Alexander Haig

Published: 6:18PM GMT twenty-one February 2010

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Previous of Images Next 12 Apr 1982: Margaret Thatcher greets US Secretary of State Alexander Haig as he arrives at 10 Downing Street for talks on the Falklands crisis twelve Apr 1982: Margaret Thatcher greets US Secretary of State Alexander Haig as he arrives at 10 Downing Street for talks on the Falklands predicament Photo: PA Alexander Haig, former US Secretary of State, dies in sanatorium elderly 85 Alexander Haig: He was Secretary of State during the Falklands War and the Israeli advance of Lebanon. Photo: REX FEATURES

Long prior to to comedians began poking fun at George W Bushs resourceful neologisms and syntax, they were derisive Haigs revisit "Haigisms". He was important for reviving Winstons Churchill word "terminological inexactitude" - Haigs offending visualisation ran: "Thats not a lie. It is a terminological inexactitude. Also, a tactical misrepresentation." On an additional arise he remarked: "The notice summary we sent the Russians was a distributed play on words that would be obviously understood."

In 1981, when President Reagan was in sanatorium after a unsuccessful gangland slaying attempt, Haig famously appeared to fumble on television, claiming: "I am in lift out here" - when, in fact, the sequence of duration places the cabinet part of of state next the vice-president and the orator of the House. The selection became seen as an try by Haig to surpass his authority, nonetheless the full content concurred the inherent niceties ("As for now, Im in lift out here, in the White House, tentative the lapse of the vice-president").

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In Britain, Haig is probably majority appropriate remembered for his try at communicate tact following the Argentine advance of the Falklands but prior to to the attainment of the British swift in the fight zone. Haig met Mrs Thatcher in London and the Argentine personality General Galtieri in Buenos Aires, but talks pennyless down.

Many felt that this was unavoidable given the intransigence of both sides, though a small deliberate that Haig had not helped with his awkward negotiating style. His revisit miss of distinctness was compounded by infrequently opposing comments done by alternative comparison American officials.

Moreover, his intervention technique, in that he took it on himself to come to terms without delay rather than merely communicate proposals in between the dual sides, meant that both sides finished up distrusting him: the Argentines saw him as an representative of Britain and the British as irritatingly neutral in a incident in that he should have been on their side.

In 1997, however, Haig claimed in an talk with an Argentine journal that Mrs Thatcher had been rebuilt to determine to concede government of the islands in 1997 if the Argentines withdrew their forces immediately.

The plan failed, he said, given Galtieri was incompetent to win the subsidy of his armed forces. Although Haigs comment was corroborated up by multiform sources, together with an unnamed Foreign Office official, majority commentators remained puzzled as to either Mrs Thatcher could presumably have supposed such a deal; and the Haig comment was contradicted by Lord Pym, Foreign Secretary at the applicable time.

Whatever the truth, Haigs viewed mishandling of the Falkland negotiations combined to concerns over his visualisation and effectively put paid to his domestic career. He quiescent in Jul 1982. When he ran, unsuccessfully, for the Republican presidential assignment in 1988 he remarked: "I probably lift some-more injure tissue on my derrière than any alternative candidate" - fast adding: "thats domestic injure tissue."

Of Scottish and Irish ancestry, Alexander Meigs Haig was innate in to a Roman Catholic family on Dec 2 1924 at Balacynwyd, Pennsylvania. His father, a lawyer, died when he was 10 years old.

From Lower Merion High School at Ardmore, Pennsylvania, he went on to Notre Dame University, afterwards performed an appointment at West Point Military Academy in 1943. He was not a shining tyro - he graduated 214th out of 310 in his year - but was important for his blazing ambition. Later he pursued connoisseur studies in Business Administration at Columbia University and a grade in ubiquitous family from Georgetown University.

After graduating, Haig served as a purloin crew commander in arch in arch in arch in arch in Japan and Korea, saying fight in the early stages of the Korean War. A hitch of hepatitis resulted in his being sent home and he served, successively, as a tank commander in arch in arch in arch in arch at Fort Knox, tactical troops troops officer at West Point, and afterwards sell association troops troops officer at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. From 1956 to 1959 he was reserved to the 899th Tank Battalion afterwards to US Army Headquarters in Europe.

After a array of table jobs, in 1964 he was allocated emissary cabinet part of of counterclaim underneath Cyrus Vance and after Robert S MacNamara. Two years after he was reserved to Vietnam, where he won a Distinguished Service Cross for his intrepidity whilst autocratic a armed forces of the 1st Infantry Division at the dispute of Ag Pu. On his lapse to America in 1967 he was allocated a regimental commander in arch in arch in arch in arch with the armed forces of cadets at the US Military Academy and, a year later, emissary commander in arch in arch in arch in arch at West Point in the arrange of colonel.

In late 1968, Henry Kissinger, afterwards Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, allocated Haig his troops confidant on the National Security Council, where, as Kissinger recalled, he shortly done himself indispensable: "He trained my anarchic tendencies and determined conformity and procession in a National Security Council staff of gifted prima donnas". Though he had small grave authority, Haigs efficacy and Kissingers high courtesy done him one of the key men in Washington. In 1969 he was promoted to brigadier-general.

The following year President Nixon sent Haig on the initial of multiform trips to Vietnam to inform on developments, and allocated him emissary partner on inhabitant security affairs, certified to control presidential briefings when Kissinger was abroad. In 1972 he trafficked to China to well-spoken the proceed for Nixons ancestral revisit to the nation after that year. He was promoted major-general in Mar 1972.

In Sep that year Nixon promoted him from two-star to four-star ubiquitous arrange and declared him to attain General Bruce Palmer as armed forces vice-chief of staff underneath General Creighton Abrams. Haigs send to the Pentagon was, however, behind until Jan 1973 given he was in the center of negotiations to finish the Vietnam conflict. It was Haig who swayed the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, to determine to a last ceasefire.

Haigs lapse to the Pentagon was short-lived. In May that year, as Nixon sunk in to the fen of Watergate, he asked Haig to lapse to the White House as arch of staff following the abdication of HR Haldeman. In Aug 1973 Haig late from the troops to persevere himself full time to White House administration.

As the system of administration department disintegrated, Haig helped to accelerate spirit and safeguard that critical executive tasks were carried out. By Kissingers after account, when the Soviet-backed Arab conflict on Israel in jeopardy to turn a full-scale troops crisis, with President Brezhnev melancholy uneven action, Nixon was incapacitated and unqualified of action. It was Haig and Kissinger who called a assembly of comprehension and troops chiefs who sent a minute to the Soviet trainer in Nixons name, persuading them to behind off. "Al Haig is keeping the nation together, and I am keeping the universe together," Kissinger remarked.

Characteristically, Haig put a patriot turn on events, claiming that he had taken Brezhnevs melancholy summary to Nixon, who had called it "the majority critical thing given the Cuban barb crisis" and called for action. Later, told of the preference to hold an puncture meeting, Nixon "expressed no unrestrained for attending... As usual, he elite to let others set the options... With a call of the hand, he said, "You know what I want, Al, you hoop the meeting."

Haig remained with Nixon until his abdication in 1974 and rebuilt the belligerent for the send of energy to Gerald Ford. In their book Silent Coup (1991), Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin referred to Haig as a heading claimant for the piece of "Deep Throat", the inside source for the Washington Post as the paper unprotected the cover of the Watergate break-in.

Haigs intense denials were in all believed, even prior to to Mark Felt, the former join forces with executive of the FBI, owned up in 2005. Except where the interests of the President were at stake, Haig was not one of natures dissemblers.

In Sep 1974 Haig returned to the armed forces as commander-in-chief of the US forces in Europe and, in December, as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, in assign of Natos forces. During his 4 years at Nato, Haig clinging his energies to modernising the Western troops to negate the Soviet rave in eastern Europe and won concept regard for his supportive doing of Nato part of states.

In 1979, though, he quiescent and after late from the armed forces given of disagreements with the Carter administration department department over what he regarded as the excessively easy proceed to the Soviets.

After a short duration posterior assorted outward interests, in 1980 the incoming President Ronald Reagan declared Haig his Secretary of State, a preference tenderly permitted by his old trainer Richard Nixon, who described him, approvingly, as "the meanest, toughest, majority desirous s.o.b." he had ever known. Haig promoted a difficult viewpoint opposite the Soviet Union and a pro-Israel process in the Middle East, but mostly found himself at contingency with the some-more balm Secretary of Defence Caspar Weinberger.

After withdrawal the State Department in 1982, Haig determined his own consulting firm, Worldwide Associates, and served as executive of assorted vital monetary and production firms; he was a first house part of of America Online (AOL). He was the writer of Caveat: Realism, Reagan and Foreign Policy (1984) and an autobiographical memoir, Inner Circles, How America Changed the World (1992).

Alexander Haig married, in 1950, Patricia Fox, with whom he had dual sons and a daughter.

London Fashion Week: Daks a/w 2010/11 collection

By Hilary Alexander, Fashion Director at London Fashion Week Published: 4:08PM GMT twenty February 2010

Daks a/w 2010/11 collection Daks: a prolonged cardigan in cable-stitch, a Daks residence check cloak with relating "deerstalker" hat, and a classical cashmere sweater, accessories enclosed bullion boots and socks. Photo: CHRISTOPHER PLEDGER

Daks, the quintessential, English, town-and-country, birthright brand, stepped in to new domain with the pick up by beautiful director, Filippo Scuffi.

Scuffis years in the pattern studios of tip American brands such as Donna Karan, Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren, was clear in his certain palm with � la mode sportswear with an civic edge.

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A classical camel cashmere sweater and gentle, A-line knee-skirt was rught away updated with flat, floor-length dresses and cardigans in grey cable-stitchgold lace-up boots and hosiery an appendage thesis via the show.

The Daks residence check was seen in tailored city-shorts, cropped, slight trousers, and neat, slim-line coats, ragged with relating "deerstalker" hats, a la Sherlock Holmes. Dark navy, pinstripe coats and suits additionally featured the Sherlock solution.

More directional were quilted capes, anoraks, spare trousers and drifting suits, in quilted, pewter-grey nylon or flannel, with relating helmets; and covetable jodhpurs in camel velvet, with reinforced, quilted patches, ragged with casual-chic, boyfriend-blazers in camel wool.

Scuffi did not have the inapplicable designation of feeling compelled to do dusk wear. His culmination was ideally in keeping with the relaxed, sporty-tailored ease of the total pick up floor-length dresses and cardigans in grey cable-stitch: undiluted for dinners in draughty noble piles.

England miss out on All England seedings as world badmintons best lead entries

By Rod Gilmour Published: 3:49PM GMT 20 Feb 2010

Malaysia Top seed: Malaysia"s Lee Chong Wei is men"s No 1 seed Photo: AP

Singapore Open men"s doubles winners Nathan Robertson and Anthony Clark lead the home entries for the tournament, which runs from March 9-14.

In the mens badminton singles Malaysias Lee Chong Wei, who has won the first two BWF Super Series events of the year in Korea and Malaysia, is again No 1 seed with Chinese rival Lin Dan, who has won four All England titles, at No 2. Rajiv Ouseph, the recent British National champion, will be looking for a decent run on home soil.

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Four-times European champion and 1999 All England winner Peter Gade is the only Western player seeded. The Dane, who will be bidding to regain his European title at the Yonex European Badminton Championships at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester in April, is seeded No 5.

Denmarks world mixed doubles champions Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Juhl, runners-up to Robertson and Gail Emms in 2005, will be aiming for title glory but they are only seeded No 5 behind favourites Zheng Bo and Ma Jin.

Zheng Bo and former partner Gao Ling defeated Clark and Donna Kellogg in the 2008 final while 2009 All England winners He Hanbin and Yu Yang, who won in Korea last month, will be in contention behind Olympic champions Lee Yong Dae and Lee Hyo Jung.

Europes other seeds are Denmarks Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen at No 4 but Englands Robertson and Jenny Wallwork, Chris Adcock and Gabby White and Clark and new partner Heather Olver will be aiming to upset the seedings.

All England seedings

Mens Singles:

1 Lee Chong Wei (Mas)2 Lin Dan (Chn)3 Chen Jin (Chn)4 Taufik Hidayat (Ina)5 Peter Gade (Den)6 Bao Chunlai (Chn)7 Boonsak Ponsana (Tha)8 Tien Minh Nguyen (Vie)

Womens Singles:

1 Wang Yihan (Chn)2 Wang Lin (Chn)3 Jiang Yanjiao (Chn)4 Pi Hongyan (Fra)5 Wang Xin (Chn)6 Lu Lan (Chn)7 Saina Nehwal (Ind)8 Zhou Mi (Hong Kong)

London Fashion Week: David Koma a/w 2010/11 collection

By Hilary Alexander, Fashion Director at London Fashion Week Published: 3:17PM GMT 20 Feb 2010

London Fashion Week: David Koma a/w 2010/11 collection Photo: Christopher Pledger

Expectations were high for David Koma"s show. The 24-year-old, from Georgia, has been catapulted into the headlines sincewinning the the Harrods Design award with his 2009 MA graduate collection at Central Saint Martins.

In the last year, his clothes have been photographed on a stellar cast of Hollywood and music stars including Megan Fox, Cheryl Cole, Beyonce, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga, among others.

David Koma a/w 2010/11 collection David Koma, MA Graduate of Central St Martins awarded David Koma on his new collection David Koma More on London Fashion Week More Fashion picture galleries

Has it gone to his head? Is it too much too soon? Can he keep up the pace? Backstage, before his show, with Vauxhalll Fashion Scout, at the Freemason"s Hall, Koma confessed: "It has been hard. But I"m just trying to do my best and concentrate on my work."

The collection, for next autumn/winter, did not disappoint. Instead of reprising the cyber-warrior woman, in the metal-encrusted dresses his stellar clients have picked, the young designer moved into sculptural tailoring, in fine fabrics. Pure wool, leather and suede, were patchworked together, with intricate seaming, for body-con dresses.

Mixes of black leather and tan wool, for example, or grey flannel and black leather, were scissored into graphic patterns which zig-zagged across and around the body.

The geometric, diagonals with a triangular frame, were inspired by the great Italian Futurists, Fortunato Depero, and Umberto Boccion. Koma introduced jackets and coats, with jagged edges resembling shark"s teeth, and sexy, one-shoulder dresses, which fitted like a second skin, and featured circular cut-outs, sliced open down one side of the body.

He echoed his early cyber mood in a more restrained manner, using silver and gold zip-fasteners to create whirls and swirls around the neck, torso and hips.

Everton 3 Manchester United 1: match report

By Rory Smith at Goodison Park Published: 2:45PM GMT 20 Feb 2010

Everton v Manchester United Rocket-man: Diniyar Bilyaletdinov is congratulated by his Everton team-mates after scoring a fantastic equaliser from 25 yards Photo: AP

Everton dealt a severe blow to Manchester Uniteds Premier League title hopes this afternoon as David Moyess side came from behind to sweep aside the champions at Goodison Park.

Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell scored inside the last 15 minutes to condemn United to their sixth league defeat of the season and leave them ruing a missed opportunity to return to the top of the table, albeit temporarily, at Chelseas expense.

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Sir Alex Fergusons side struck first in a frenetic first half, Dimitar Berbatovs shot clipping the underside of the cross bar after Sylvain Distin failed to deal with Antonio Valencias low cross, but their lead lasted only three minutes.

Louis Saha beat Jonny Evans, enduring another torrid outing following his dressing-down from Ferguson at the San Siro, to John Heitingas long pass, knocking the ball into the path of Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. The Russian steadied himself and powered a fierce 25-yard drive past the stranded Edwin van der Sar.

Either side could have led at the break. Bilyaletdinov failed to control his shot after Saha had cleverly dummied Leighton Bainess cross, while the excellent Landon Donovan miskicked after Wes Browns poor clearance of another of the left-backs centres fell at his feet on the edge of the six-yard box.

The best chance of the opening spell, though, fell to Wayne Rooney. The forward, his every touch roundly jeered, latched on to a delicate Berbatov through ball, rounded Tim Howard but, as he shaped to roll the ball into an unguarded net, found Phil Neville shepherding him away from goal.

Rooney, otherwise quiet, would regret his profligacy. The striker found himself on the fringes as United failed to settle into any sort of rhythm in the second half, their only chances a Darren Fletcher volley which whistled wide and a Michael Carrick shot which briefly threatened Howards goal.

David Moyess side had created little more when Gosling, with almost his first touch, beat Patrice Evra to Steven Pienaars cross to steer the hosts ahead. By the time Rodwell, another substitute and a player who features highly on Fergusons wish list, stormed through Uniteds ramshackle rearguard to add a third, United had already run out of ideas.

Dutch troops to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of year after coalition falls

By agencies in The Netherlands and Telegraph reporter Published: 10:47AM GMT 20 Feb 2010

Jan Peter Balkenende: Dutch troops to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of year after Amsterdam coalition falls Jan Peter Balkenende: Mr Balkenende had wanted to extend the deployment of Dutch troops beyond an August deadline, but the Labour Party, his junior partner in the coalition, was opposed. Photo: REUTERS

The government fell because of a dispute between its main partners over how long its soldiers should stay in the war.

A withdrawal, expected to begin in August and be completed by December, would come as a major blow to Nato efforts to battle the Taliban and reassure Afghans that the West will stay and protect them.

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For several years thousands of Dutch troops have been based in Uruzgan Province, to the north of Helmand where British soldiers are engaged in deadly fighting against insurgents.

A withdrawal of 2000 Dutch soldiers whose operation has won the respect of Nato commanders - could put more pressure on overstretched British soldiers in southern Afghanistan, who may be called on to plug the gap which would be left by a Dutch withdrawal.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, leader of the centre-right Christian Democrats, announced on Saturday that the coalition government he has led for nearly three years could not continue. Mr Balkenende had wanted to extend the deployment of Dutch troops beyond an August deadline, but the Labour Party, his junior partner in the coalition, was opposed.

Dutch troops had already extended their stay after originally planning to withdraw in 2008. Their deployment has long been controversial with an electorate more at ease with peacekeeping operations than fighting a war. Twenty-one Dutch soldiers have died in Afghanistan. The province where they are based, Uruzgan, is a mountainous area of the south where Taliban support is strong.

If the Dutch do withdraw, as seems almost certain now, they would be the first of the ten major Nato contributing nations to pull out of Afghanistan handing a major propaganda victory to the Taliban, which believes it simply has to wait for western powers to tire of the costly war.

The coalition collapse came after more than 15 hours of talks that lasted until early on Saturday, and acrimonious exchanges throughout the week. Months of political turmoil could lie ahead for the Netherlands. Elections are likely later this year, and the big winner could be the controversial Right-winger Geert Wilders.

Opinion polls predict that his anti-immigration Freedom Party could become the second-largest or even largest party, making him the likely power broker in Dutch politics.

Deep space visitor to our solar system captured by space telescope

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent Published: 2:40PM GMT 20 Feb 2010

Previous of Images Next Siding Spring: Deep space visitor to our solar system captured by space telescope Siding Spring: Among the first images to be beamed back were the red streak of a comet, called Siding Spring Photo: NASA Andromeda Galaxy: Deep space visitor to our solar system captured by space telescope Andromeda Galaxy: The massive Andromeda galaxy, which is also known as Messier 31, is about 2.5 million light years away and bigger than the Milky Way

The Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) began its scan of the entire sky on January 14 in a bid to help astronomers spot previously unseen objects both inside and outside our solar system.

The 9ft long space telescope is using infrared light, which cannot be seen with the human eye, to build up a map of the entire sky visible from its orbit 300 miles above the Earth.

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Among the first images to be beamed back were the red streak of a comet, called Siding Spring, as it races through our solar system, leaving a 10 million mile long tail of glowing dust in its wake.

The giant lump of ice and dust originated from a frozen cloud of comets surrounding our solar system called the Oort Cloud, but at some point was knocked out of its orbit and was sent careering closer to the sun.

In December last year Siding Spring passed 116 million miles from the Earth, just one and a quarter times the distance of the Earth from the sun.

It"s glowing red tail is caused by light from the sun causing it to shed ice and dust as it travels through the solar system.

During its six month mission, WISE is expected to find dozens of previously unseen comets, including those that may come close to the Earth"s own orbit around the sun. WISE has already discovered one near-Earth asteroid and a new comet.

Another picture gives a colourful glimpse of the closest large galaxy neighbouring our own. The massive Andromeda galaxy, which is also known as Messier 31, is about 2.5 million light years away and bigger than the Milky Way.

The galaxy"s spiralling arms can be seen made up of blue mature stars while yellow and red dust glows as it is heated by newborn stars.

During its mission, WISE is expected to capture images of all 50 galaxies that surround our own and make up the so called Local Group of galaxies.

In another image, a churning yellow mass of gas and dust gives a new insight into a star forming factory around 20,000 light years away from our solar system.

"All these pictures tell a story about our dusty origins and destiny," said Peter Eisenhardt, the WISE project scientist at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"WISE sees dusty comets and rocky asteroids tracing the formation and evolution of our solar system. We can map thousands of forming and dying solar systems across our entire galaxy.

"We can see patterns of star formation across other galaxies, and waves of star-bursting galaxies in clusters millions of light years away."

The WISE mission will scan the sky one-and-a-half times by October, taking nearly 1,500,000 pictures. By that time the frozen coolant needed to chill its instruments will be depleted and the telescope is expected to slowly die.

"WISE has worked superbly," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

"These first images are proving the spacecrafts secondary mission of helping to track asteroids, comets and other stellar objects will be just as critically important as its primary mission of surveying the entire sky in infrared."

Tiger Woods sticks to the script in his apology and reveals nothing of note

By Jim White Published: 12:30AM GMT 20 Feb 2010

Sorry Tiger Woods sticks to the script to reveal nothing of note Pause for thought: Tiger Woods composes himself as he reads his official apology to the watching world for his marital infidelity Photo: REUTERS

He may have been among "40 friends, colleagues and close associates" gathered in a room at the PGA Tours headquarters in Florida, but he looked about as comfortable as he must have been that November day when his wife smashed a golf club through the window of his Cadillac.

Stiff, staccato, lumpen, he appeared to be a man speaking under duress. Indeed in his formal buttoned-up collar but no tie, he had the sartorial arrangement of a hostage, hastily dressed for a video ransom demand. Though in truth most hostages look more relaxed than this.

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Woods has never done spontaneous. Since his minders pulled down the shutters around him after he had revealed himself as a gauche frat boy with a string of off-colour gags during an interview with GQ magazine in 1997, his every utterance has been stage-managed.

Even his extra-marital relations exuded an air of organisation; many were seemingly prearranged by a third party in advance. This is a man who even conducted his flings to timetable.

Thus was his public confession more controlled than a tee shot from the third at Augusta. There were no cameras in the room snapping away to catch him looking vulnerable. No reporters to ask tricky questions. No unauthorised television lenses ready to zoom in the moment his bottom lip quivered.

In the hand-picked audience were an old college contemporary, his mum and a bunch of others who looked as though they really didnt want to be there. It may have been the hottest ticket in town, but they appeared more like the witnesses gathered to watch an execution.

If this were a collection of his closest friends, anxious to welcome him back into their lives, it said a lot about Tigers ability to forge intimacy. Notably his wife wasnt there. Though her lawyer might well have been.

Without fanfare, a couple of minutes after the scheduled start time, Woods stepped out from behind a velvet curtain, arranged a couple of pages of notes on a lectern and began to read.

Anyone who has ever sat through a Woods press conference will confirm he is the master of filling time by saying nothing, leaving his audience with their notebooks full, but with nothing of note within them, as if in possession of a stick of verbal candyfloss.

So it was here. Whoever produced this script had spanked their laptops thesaurus. Tiger was apologetic, he was repentant, he was regretful. But mostly, he was sorry, deeply sorry. Several dozen times over he was sorry.

He had let his family down. He had let his friends down. He had let his sponsors down. He was concerned too with the millions who had been through his educational foundation and would be disappointed by his behaviour. Millions, note: there is nothing modest about the numbers of those he had hurt.

But the person he had hurt most, he insisted, was his wife. Although, tellingly, he never once said he loved her, Mrs Woods was his foremost concern.

"Elin and I have started the process of discussing the damage caused by my behaviour," he said. "We have a lot to discuss and what we say to each other will remain between the two of us." Well, between the two of them and her lawyer.

As it went on, he did not deflect from the script once. At only one point did his voice express any emotion and that was when he lambasted the press for their prurient interest in his family. Always best to make it clear where the real blame lies.

And after 13 minutes of sorry he was gone, back not to the golf course, but to therapy. When he will next emerge he did not tell us. It is something he will keep under his control. Though like a golfing Canute, the tide of what he has unleashed is becoming too hard even for the master of control to hold back.

Winter Olympics 2010: Amy Williams skeleton gold incredible boost for team morale

By Jacquelin Magnay in Whistler Published: 9:52AM GMT 20 Feb 2010

Winter Olympics 2010: Amy Williams skeleton gold Picture tells a thousand words: Amy Williams overjoyed at win Photo: GETTY IMAGES

He noted, though, that the failure of Canadian favourite Mellisa Hollingsworth to cement a medal, when she went into the final run in second spot only to finish fifth, showed how athletes preparing for London 2012 needed to be able to cope with hometown pressure.

Redgrave was particularly impressed with the poise Williams showed in leading through the first two runs on Thursday and having to sleep on the interim results until the final two runs on Friday night.

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He said Williams ability to focus on her performance throughout that period was a key difference between Winter Olympic Games gold medal success and no medal.

The Canadian favourite Hollingsworth was second after three runs, but she botched the final run. She burst into tears and was inconsolable an hour after the race.

Redgrave said: "This was an event where there was enormous pressure from Canada and there are definite lessons to be learned on how to handle that pressure for the London Olympics.

"I am an experienced Olympian and pressure was one of the things I prepared for, you think you know it all, but you dont.

"What happened to Hollingsworth is an example for us to get it right, to be able to have our athletes understand that pressure and as much as possible to provide them with experiences of that pressure - but where do you get that? We have got to get it right."

Redgrave, here at the Olympics in a mentoring role, said the team officials left Williams to herself throughout the 24 hour break.

"She needed that space, she needed to be with herself," he said. "She just was herself, she had an ice bath, she had physiotherapy and she relaxed…there were hugs when she needed them, but she needed the space to concentrate.

"I am sure she was thinking why isnt this a normal world cup race and it would be over by now and I would have won the medal, so to hold that for a day and then to come out and extend her lead to five-tenths of a second is unbelievable.

"I was certainly thinking this is hers to lose. But what it showed was her consistency."

Redgrave said Williams win would be a huge boost for winter sport in the long term, not just a morale boost for the current team.

"British athletes in the village are buzzing from here on, we had always hoped we would get a medal here and everyone is thrilled.

"Other team members now think, well why cant I do that?. It is an incredible boost for team morale and also for where we want to be with winter sports."

Worlds heaviest man in hospital after heart attack

Published: 8:00AM GMT 20 Feb 2010

Paul Mason: World Paul Mason was rushed to Ipswich Hospital Photo: ARCHANT

Paul Mason, 48, was moved from his home in Ipswich, Suffolk, to Ipswich Hospital by a bariatric ambulance designed especially for obese patients.

A spokeswoman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: ""Yesterday afternoon we were contacted by the patient"s GP who was at his home.

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""After the initial assessment it was decided that he needed to go to hospital.

""We do not have an ambulance that can carry a patient who weighs over 30 stone so we contacted St John Ambulance Service who have a specialist bariatric ambulance.

""They arrived and conveyed him to hospital, where he was admitted.""

It is understood Mr Mason recently had gastric bypass surgery at St Richard"s Hospital in Chichester, West Sussex.

Patients who receive the treatment typically experience dramatic weight loss.

Council launches investigation over smoking mayor

By Stephen Adams Published: 8:00AM GMT 20 Feb 2010

John West, the Mayor of March : Council launches investigation over smoking mayor John West, the Mayor of March Photo: ARCHANT

Fenland District Council in Cambridgeshire is investigating four allegations against John West, the Mayor of March, including that he "brandished a cigarette 30 centimetres from the face of two officers on two separate occasions".

However, fellow councillors at the Conservative-run authority have condemned the standards committee"s investigation as a waste of time and money.

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Mr West, 65, who has served the council for about a decade, is also said to have been "disrespectful towards officers, acted in an aggressive and bullying manner and used inappropriate language".

All the allegations relate to four separate occasions between 27 October and 15 December 2009.

Mr West said he was the victim of a "witch hunt" and criticised the investigation as a waste of council tax payers" money.

He said the only incident to which he could imagine that the allegations referred was one Saturday morning last autumn when he helped council officers clear weeds from outside March station, during which he smoked.

He commented: "I do realise that as a smoker I"m the biggest pariah out there, but I don"t think it"s illegal to smoke outside yet.

"I think the council are making themselves look stupid.

"I never realised that people walked around with tape measures, and I am not going to apologise for being a smoker."

Mr West thought the "smoking incident" could not have been inside, saying if that was the case the council would have accused him of breaking the law.

He added: "I"m appalled at the fuss this has got up. I haven"t even seen a copy of the allegations. It"s totally unacceptable."

Mr West admitted he was a "forthright" person but insisted he could recall no altercations with council officers.

He thought an official investigation, which could cost thousands, was an unnecessary expense.

"In my view, if you have got a problem, you both turn up and sort out your grievances in a manly way. You don"t go behind people"s backs," he said.

A senior councillor, who did not want to be named, said of the allegations: "They do not make it clear whether Councillor West"s cigarette was alight and whether the alleged incident happened indoors or outdoors."

Another added: "I think they have failed to realise that Councillor West has a hearing problem and quite often gets near to people he"s talking about.

Last year Geoff Harper, a former leader of the council, criticised the authority for spending £5,500 pursuing a complaint against him by another councillor. It was later dismissed.

Mr Harper described the money spent on the investigation as a "scandal".

"I consider the whole affair as a vexatious political stunt to undermine my integrity," he said.

A spokesman for Fenland District Council said the authority could not comment while the investigation was under way.

He said: "The due processes will now be followed and this complaint will be investigated by the monitoring officer."

"The cost varies depending on what the allegations are and how long the investigation takes to carry out."

The spokesman added that the details of the allegations would be put to Mr West in due course.

Tories plan biggest shake up of income tax system since Second World War

By Louise Armitstead, Chief City Reporter Published: 6:30AM GMT 20 Feb 2010

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PAYE - Tories plan biggest shake up of income tax system since Second World War PAYE - Tories plan biggest shake up of income tax system since Second World War

The Conservatives are working on a pilot for a new automated bank-based system that would remove the responsibility of deducting and paying income tax from employers. The new system could save businesses up to £5.5bn according to the Tories and increase revenues to the Exchequer of £1bn., according to the Tories election hopefuls.

Rather than leaving employers to process different tax codes and pay income tax for employees, the new system would automatically deduct income tax and national insurance contributions directly from an employee"s gross pay as it is paid into their bank account.

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A briefing document seen by The Daily Telegraph says: "The administrative burden on businesses, especially small businesses, should be significantly reduced [under the new process]. Employers will no longer need to calculate the various deductions for employees and will simply need to ensure that the correct National Insurance Number is associated to the payment."

The Tories, who are in talks with various technology providers who are developing the system, said the plans have been made in response to the increasing failures of the current tax system.

David Gauke, shadow Treasury Minister, said: "The cumbersome system is a significant burden for employers, HMRC and taxpayers. We urgently need to look at moving to a real-time PAYE system where income tax and NICs are deducted automatically as gross salaries are paid."

Mike Warburton, tax partner at Grant Thornton, said: "The PAYE system has been creaking at the hinges and has been in need of a serious review for years. British companies have been used as unpaid tax-collectors for years which is fine for big companies with payroll departments but can be a big weight on smaller ones. There are of course risks - both in terms of security and technology - but this could go a long way to helping many companies."

PAYE - or "pay as you earn" - was introduced in Britain in 1944 by a beleagured Treasury that needed to improve the efficiency of tax collection after five years of war. Over 65 years later most taxpayers have both their income tax and national insurance contribution deducted at source by their employers. Although HMRC provides individual tax codes, it is up to the employer to calculate the amount due.

Critics have argued that the system, which is still paper based, is ill equipped to cope with individuals that changes jobs more frequently and often have multiple sources of income. The Public Accounts Committee said that HMRC has a backlog of 17m PAYE cases to address. The National Audit Office last year estimated that 4.5m people paid too much tax under PAYE and 1.5m not enough.

The Tories will also argue that the paper system in a wasteful use of the HMRC"s resources and that the new system would free up revenue officers to collect tax evaders instead.

Prophetik autumn/winter 2010/11 collection

By Hilary Alexander, Fashion Director at London Fashion Week Published: 2:48PM GMT 19 Feb 2010

Prophetik A long, corseted dress in organic cotton, the designer, Jeff Garner taking a bow, and a trouser-suit inspired by the American Civil War. Photo: REX

You cant say London Fashion Week isnt eclectic. The catwalk debut of the eco-chic, US brand, Prophetik, took place under the Vauxhall Fashion Scout banner this morning.

Guests were welcomed to the Freemasons Hall in Covent Garden, by a 15-hand bay, called Zack. The collection, by the Tennessee poet and designer, Jeff Garner, was inspired by the American Civil War, and paraded to live music by a former Sex Pistols drummer and an ex-Def Leppard lead guitarist.

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The collection, all sustainable, and made in Garners hometown of Franklin, an old Civil War town, was made from organic cottons and corduroys, hemp, flax and "Greenspun" which comes from recycled bottles.

The clothes were dyed with plants and herbs from Garners garden indigo for blue, for example, marigold for gold, and yurba mate, for silver. Military jackets were fastened with genuine buttons from original Confederate Army uniforms.

Organic cotton dresses featured abstract and "splatter" prints "painted" by two elephants in a southern Thailand sanctuary part of the Asia Elephant Art Conservancy Project.

Riding cloaks came in the faded colours of the cavalry and "Gone With the Wind", long, corseted dresses, in organic cotton with a homespun feel, and velvet. The collection is planned to be sold at Eco Age, which is run by the actor Colin Firths wife, Livia Giuggioli, in Chiswick, west London.

Garner, who started his career in the music industry, moved into fashion eight years ago, when he launched Prophetik. He has dressed many of America"s top music stars including Cameron Diaz, Rihanna, Sheryl Crow, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Kings of Leon, and the Jonas brothers.

Heavy Rain: Interview with writer and director David Cage

By Shane Richmond, Head of Technology (Editorial) Published: 3:28PM GMT 18 Feb 2010

Comments 3 |

Previous of Images Next Heavy Rain video game review The characters in Heavy Rain are well rounded and well drawn, although they are let down by bad dialogue and the occasional lapse in quality of the voice acting Heavy Rain video game review Art project or video game? Heavy Rain aims at taking storytelling in video games to the next level Heavy Rain video game review Atmospheric: Heavy Rain takes clear inspiration from Hollywood directors like Lynch, De Palma and Hitchcock Heavy Rain video game review The game"s settings sustain the mood of the story Heavy Rain video game review The game"s plot centres around tracking down an insidious character called the Origami Killer Heavy Rain video game review Players invest in the plot: Heavy Rain"s story brims with intrigue and danger

With its dark, sprawling plot about four characters hunting a child killer, Heavy Rain has more in common with Hollywood thrillers than the typical video game. Its missing a lot of the standard features of a game, as David Cage, its creator, points out: "The hero doesnt have a gun, the goal is not to shoot people or drive cars or jump on platforms. It is not based on the same mechanics."

Instead this is an emotional journey. Its a game that wants you to to ask yourself difficult questions instead of racing around shooting zombies. While the plot is filled with familiar serial killer thriller tropes, it takes you inside its characters in a way that most films cannot.

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Cage says: "Heavy Rain has the courage to break with most of the video game rules that were established 20 years ago and are still used today by most games."

This then is interactive drama, not a straightforward video game. If one of the characters dies, the game carries on without them. If all four characters die then the story will still come to a resolution. The knowledge that a character youve followed for hours could be snatched away if you fail one of Heavy Rains set pieces adds enormous tension and makes you care about the characters as very few games have done before.

Cage says that Heavy Rain wasnt really influenced by any contemporary games. He praises games such as Ico and Shadow of the Colossus that "create emotional journeys",, but says his games roots lie elsewhere - in the films of David Fincher and Stanley Kubrick and in the novels of James Ellroy. He says: "Heavy Rain is a cousin of the Choose Your Own Adventure books."

The 40-year-old Frenchman, who was born David DeGruttola, founded his games studio, Quantic Dream, in 1997. Heavy Rain is their third game. Its predecessors, Omikron: The Nomad Soul and Fahrenheit, began a rethink of gaming structure that is most fully realised in Heavy Rain.

The difference is clear from the outset. Heavy Rains opening scenes, with architect Ethan Mars waking up in his bedroom, getting dressed, taking a shower, cleaning his teeth and heading downstairs for breakfast, are painfully slow by gaming standards. The pacing is more like a novel but each small, banal action teaches the player a little more of the games control system and builds the background of Ethans world.

As tragedy shatters Ethans comfortable existence he is drawn into the Origami Killers plans and the game widens its scope to introduce its other key characters: journalist Madison Paige, private eye Scott Shelby and FBI agent Norman Jayden.

The action sequences - escaping from a car thats being dropped into a crusher, for example, or a rooftop police chase - are dealt with by pressing buttons on the controller in response to on-screen prompts. React in time and your character will duck a punch or jump onto a ledge. Fail and they will be hurt or even die.

Some who have played the demo feel that this is insufficient, that the game is not really interactive - its a movie with occasional mini-games to keep the player interested. That criticism is mistaken, though its easy to see why gamers would make it. Typical games are about manipulating objects, moving a character around a world, smashing boxes and blowing up enemies. Much of Heavy Rains interactivity is mental. Its about making choices for the characters, experiencing their doubt and their fear, rather than the thrill of driving fast or shooting.

Cage says: "The biggest challenge was to decide what kind of bandwidth to give to the player. If you give too little bandwidth then the game becomes linear and youd better make a movie. But if you give too much bandwidth then you have another problem - your story is so torn and twisted that it doesnt mean anything and youre not in control. You want to allow the player to be the co-author as long as the result is great."

That insistence on staying in control of the story is both Heavy Rains greatest strength and its biggest weakness. Its easy to feel that the game is on rails and that at certain points the outcome is fixed whatever you choose to do. However, when the story and the interactivity merge seamlessly, as they do most of the time, the result is like no other game youve ever experienced.

In one scene, a character is faced with the prospect of committing murder, a situation that the game sets up as a genuinely difficult choice. Cage says: "I was really wondering if people would press the trigger. Killing people is the most common thing in any video game. Ive played games for 20 years - Ive killed millions of people and never cared. The real challenge of Heavy Rain was to make you care. Would you press the trigger? Would you take a life?

"If everybody pressed the trigger it meant that there was no suspension of disbelief. You would know that this is just a bunch of pixels animated by a program so why not shoot? But if you hesitate, it means that you forgot that this was a game. We discovered that 85 per cent of players didnt shoot."

In testing that scene, Cage says, players would pause the game and sit thinking about what to do next. He says they would talk to themselves, mulling over the decision. "This is where it stops being a game and becomes an experience," he says.

Making the player believe in the game, to forget that this is just "a bunch of pixels" is the real challenge. Cage used motion capture to replicate the faces of actors playing the game"s characters. Heavy Rains graphics, which are beautifully detailed, are not just for show - its the graphics that convey much of the emotion required to draw the player in.

"The PlayStation 3 really gave us the power to have highly detailed characters," Cage says. "And this is not just a technical thing. When you want some subtle emotions, you need some subtle vehicles for emotion."

Of course, a film can do impressive visuals too but a film will not let you change the story. "What is specific to this medium is that you can change whats going on in real time," Cage says. "There is a specific aspect to this new language: the interface. It becomes the pen that you use to write your own story."

The interface pulls you into the story too - forcing your hands into uncomfortable positions when a character is uncomfortable, vibrating during fights and often requiring you to smash the controller down like a weapon to deal with foes.

Heavy Rain has received almost unanimously positive reviews. Almost every reviewer says that this is a game everyone should experience but nobody really knows what gamers will do. If its a success it could bring about a radical change in the kind of games that are published. But will gamers buy into it?

Even Cage is unsure: "Buying Heavy Rain is almost a political act. You can vote with your credit card. You can say we want the industry to go in this direction. And if you dont vote it means no - just continue to make games based on zombies and monsters, thats fine."

You should vote yes.

Follow Shane Richmond on Twitter

WordPress failure takes 10m blogs offline

Published: 12:45PM GMT 19 Feb 2010

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GigaOM screenshot The GigaOM blog was one of those affected by the outage.

The technical problem took more than 10 million blogs offline for 110 minutes and cost them an estimated 5.5 million page views. Matt Mullenweg, the founder of Automattic, which owns WordPress.com, said the outage was caused by a server problem.

In a blog post after the service returned, he wrote: "It appears an unscheduled change to a core router by one of our datacenter providers messed up our network in a way that we havent experienced before and broke the site."

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He said he would work on a plan for preventing similar problems in future and ensuring that the service would recover "more gracefully next time". He said WordPress.com hasnt faced a problem of this scale in four years.

WordPress.com is the hosted side of WordPress, which is the most popular blog publishing application on the web today. The company also produces an open-source version of WordPress which anyone can use to host a blog on their own server. Many companies, including the Telegraph, host their own WordPress blogs, which were unaffected by yesterdays outage.

Video: Quentin Tarantino, Colin Firth and Carey Mulligan winners at Critics Circle Awards

Published: 10:13AM GMT 19 Feb 2010

How I escaped Mossads clutches

By Peter Hounam Published: 7:00AM GMT 20 Feb 2010

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Peter Hounam after his release from Israeli police custody Peter Hounam after his release from Israeli police custody Photo: AP

If Mossad was behind the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel last month it should shock nobody. From my experience of the Israeli intelligence agencies, it is not their ruthlessness that is so remarkable but their disdain for international public opinion and tendency to take short cuts.

Hit teams dispatched by the spymasters of Tel Aviv have been surprisingly clumsy in exercising their licence to kidnap or kill around the world. Many operations have been botched, causing huge embarrassment to friendly countries.

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My experience of them happened six years ago after I had gone to Israel on behalf of the BBC and The Sunday Times. The aim was to get the first interview with nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu on his release after 18 years in jail, 11 of them spent in solitary confinement. I ended up being accused of nuclear espionage myself.

In 1986, I had exposed Israels nuclear weapons programme based on Vanunus eyewitness testimony of his countrys underground nuclear weapons plant where he had worked as a technician. He had then been kidnapped by Mossad, returned to Israel and convicted of treason and espionage.

Before he was freed in 2004, Vanunu was prohibited from talking to foreigners or leaving the country. Determined to overcome this, I assigned an Israeli journalist to interview him, with me sitting in the background. One copy of our film was impounded that night when being couriered out, but a second copy got to London. Soon afterwards while driving through the outskirts of Tel Aviv my luck ran out.

A car suddenly pulled into my path, others blocked me in, and I was dragged out. A man with a police badge said I was under arrest and being taken to Jerusalem for questioning by the security services. But first we would visit my hotel room where they would conduct a search.

As we approached the reception, I managed to break away, run into the hotel restaurant and warn someone I knew of my plight. Re-apprehended, my furious captors asked if I would like to be handcuffed. "It doesnt matter now," I replied. "The whole restaurant has seen what has happened to me." I had rightly anticipated they wanted no one to know.

Two hours later, I was ""escorted to a notorious underground jail, a relic of the British mandate era used by Mossad and the internal secret service, Shin Beth, for interrogations. Unnervingly, my legs were shackled, a blacked-out ski mask was dragged over my head so that I could see nothing, and I was pushed and shoved along corridors.

The mask was removed and I found myself in a windowless dungeon, one of 20 or more in the bowels of the building. There was no natural light; it was equipped with a piece of foam matting, a sink that doubled as a loo, and a blanket. The walls were smeared with excrement, sperm and blood, some of it used to write messages in Arabic.

Now I knew how countless other security suspects had been banged up, many never to be freed.

Back came the guards with the mask and I was pushed along more corridors into a brightly lit office. Two civilians who used false names and refused to say who precisely they worked for began to grill me. Now it became clear why I was regarded as a major security threat to the country. They falsely believed I had hidden some extra film footage revealing yet more of Vanunus secrets, though he clearly had no more to tell.

Several times I was taken to the dungeon and back for more questioning on suspicion of ""serious spying, but by 3am my interrogators were flagging. As light relief, one began asking what good restaurants I would recommend in London. Finally I was sent to bed, but warned the questioning would continue and I would be locked up for four days without seeing a lawyer.

Spending the rest of the night on the damp floor of the cell was grim, and breakfast, when it came, consisted of a boiled egg and some rice thrown into a carrier bag. I was dragged off to another room, where a police officer speaking only a smattering of English tried to take a statement from me. I realised my ordeal was ending when one of my interrogators came in and sheepishly announced my lawyer was there to see me.

Through the rest of the day negotiations took place about whether I would agree to be deported I refused. In response to complaints about my treatment, I was issued with a new set of underwear. I learnt my arrest had become international news. Diplomatic efforts and the intense interest of the Israeli media had forced them to let me go.

My release was set for 8pm and I left shaken but unharmed, after 24 hours. To all the press and TV outside, I pulled out my Mossad underpants and waved them in victory.

In 1986 the treatment of Vanunu by Mossad was much more terrifying. I had met him in Sydney, Australia, recorded in detail everything he knew, and taken him to London to be cross-questioned by experts. As a potential Mossad target, he accepted tight security precautions, but he later grew impatient. Strolling alone around Leicester Square in London, he met an attractive blonde American tourist called Cindy. They had a coffee, and arranged to go to the cinema. Vanunu had stupidly walked into a classic Mossad honeytrap.

He said nothing to me of his dangerous liaison until it was too late. After hearing about his meetings with Cindy, I warned him she might be an Israeli agent but he dismissed the notion. I suggested meeting them for dinner that evening but he cancelled. Then he disappeared. It was several weeks before Israel announced it was holding him on treason and spying charges.

Mossad had failed in its object of halting publication of Vanunus story we went to print the week he vanished but our star witness was missing and I now concentrated on exposing who was responsible. I remembered seeing two people in a car watching my house early one morning and now realised it was a big operation. But who was the mysterious Cindy?

It took nearly a year to track her down. We succeeded because Mossad had taken too many short cuts. It was Vanunu himself who gave us the crucial clue.

Leaving a Jerusalem court in a prison van, he was photographed holding up the palm of his hand bearing a scribbled message. It revealed he had gone to Italy on a particular British Airways flight and that his ""hijacking had taken place in Rome.

Boarding passes showed he had flown with a Cindy Hanin, and the most likely Cindy Hanin we eventually found lived in Orlando, Florida. She was due to get married and was clearly not a direct suspect but she was Jewish and I had a hunch the real spy might have a family connection.

The trail led conclusively to Cheryl Bentov, her future sister-in-law who had left Orlando as a teenager, joined the Israeli military and was now living in the seaside town of Netanya, north of Tel Aviv.

I set off to Israel to confront her. Cheryl Bentov and her husband Ofer, also in military intelligence, were living in a rundown bungalow beside the Haifa highway, handy for the new Mossad headquarters on West Glilot junction just a few miles to the south.

At her door I announced I was from The Sunday Times and asked if I could have a word. There was a flash of shocked recognition in Bentovs eyes. "Er, yes. Come on in," she replied cautiously, and led the way.

She became agitated when I outlined how we had painstakingly established that she had helped engineer Vanunus kidnapping. I pointed out she had not denied my allegations. She suddenly jumped up and ran across the room shouting: "I deny it. I deny everything."

I just had time to take a shot of her with a camera slung over my neck before she locked herself in the bedroom. I left, made immediate arrangements for my photographs to get back to London, filed a story about what happened, and stood by for a reaction.

Bearing in mind I had been complicit in Vanunus alleged treason, it was a surprise no one came to question me. That same day Cheryl Bentov disappeared from the bungalow and I returned safely to London. I published my story and she became famous so famous that she was never able to work as an agent again.

These experiences have demonstrated several things to me. Firstly, the Israeli security apparatus makes many mistakes, such as giving Bentov an identity that allowed us to find her, or foolishly accusing me of aggravated espionage. Secondly, it doesnt much care about its mistakes because Israel is almost never called to account. Long after Vanunus revelations, the country still has its ""secret nuclear arsenal.

And thirdly, its gung-ho tactics are frequently counterproductive. Vanunus kidnapping attracted more attention to his revelations, and the inhumanity of his treatment since his release saddens many who once admired the country.

Since my arrest in Israel I have taken a quieter path and helped start a chocolate-making business and visitor centre in leafy Highland Perthshire. Surprisingly perhaps, I like Israel and have many friends there, including the isolated figure of Mordechai Vanunu. Alas, I cannot return. I was banned after my last run-in on orders of Mossad.

Wanted: a libido

Published: 12:01AM GMT 14 Feb 2010

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The problem about sex, for women, is that we only really get to understand it in our forties. We are told this all the time. Virtually every week I read something letting me know that now I have turned 40 I should be in my sexual prime. I should, apparently, be feeling the most sexy I have ever felt. I should be in touch with my deeper inner-sexuality, quietly lusting after young men (in true Mrs Robinson style) or at least feeling free and unashamed about my carnal desires.

This baffles me. Im not sure why women are supposed to feel more sexy in their forties. We may understand sex more. We probably know as much about sex as we are ever going to know but feeling the most sexy ever? Where has that come from?Many of us have children. We work. We run households, manage money, do the shopping, fret about homework, fret about ourselves, try our hardest to make time for our relationships and usually fail. And do we look good? No, we do not. We have wrinkles and saggy bits that never used to be saggy. We are tired. No, more than that, we are exhausted, dead on our feet. Dying. Yes, sometimes I feel so tired I imagine I am withering up and dying.

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There is obviously something wrong with me. I read a book recently by the French author Catherine Millet in which she has sex with anyone, any time. It left me feeling exhausted. How did she have the time? The energy? I am waiting and hoping that this much-anticipated sexual awakening will happen to me, but, in truth, I think it may be in vain. Two years ago I noticed that my husband had bought me something from Agent Provocateur for my birthday. I got so obsessed by the thought of what it could be and rather nervous at the idea of a basque and stockings that I ended up making myself ill. It turned out to be nothing more than a candle and some body oil.

Its ridiculous. I am, I realise, a prude and this society doesnt seem to do prude anymore. I am behind the times a dry old sack of a woman too busy with my head in a book or a crossword or playing with my children or working to think about sex. I convince myself I am not alone. There are hundreds of women out there who crave a good nights sleep rather than hours of sex. Its just that no one likes to talk about it, because we all feel so bad were not having sex all the time.

In Hanif Kureishis novel Intimacy the main character relates how he left his wife because she was the type of woman who "read cookbooks in bed. Ive never forgotten it. I love reading cookbooks in bed. Thats the type of woman I am. But now I have decided I must do something about it. It is my mission to re-ignite my sexual being. Im just not sure how.

I talk to my girl friends about this. Most of them tell me that sex is something you have to practise. "You need to make yourself do it, a lot, says one girl friend, who has been married for more than two decades. She tells me that she and her husband have sex twice a week. "We have to make that pact with each other, she says, "because otherwise wed stop altogether.

This reminds me of an extract from a book I read recently, in which an American woman and her husband had sex every day for a year. Apparently, their relationship improved enormously because of this enforced intimacy.

I ask other friends how many times they have sex in a week. "Not much, says one. "Probably four times a week.

"Four times a week? I say. "Thats loads!

"Is it? she says. She is also American.

Another friend of mine tells me that she and her husband very rarely have sex. "Its frustrating, she says. "I want to have more sex than he does and Im not sure what to do about it. She looks on the verge of tears. This starts me thinking about not just sex, but what sex actually means.

In my late teens, when I first started having sex, I found it all either terrifying (God, older boys can be very bullish when it comes to sex) or funny. Im not sure I actually enjoyed it. It all seemed so alien to me. I had no idea what I was supposed to actually do and I couldnt think of anyone to ask. I found a Playboy once under a bridge. I was probably about 10 years old. I was out walking my dog and saw it flapping in the breeze. When I opened it I was transfixed. I just could not get over it. Did people really do these things? I went home and asked my brother about it.

"Do people do that? I said.

"Yes, he said darkly,

"and some people actually enjoy it.

So, this is what I know about sex now: it is deep and dark and powerful. It lures men and women into doing ridiculous things that sometimes they shouldnt do. It is addictive. There are whole gaping chasms of it into which I have never wanted to jump (bondage, sadomasochism, etc) and probably never will. But the raw, essential power of it the power that confused but also thrilled me as that 10-year-old with the racy magazine is something that intrigues me. There is work to be done, however.

I decide to start by going up to London for a spot of lingerie shopping. I find an Ann Summers shop on Kensington High Street. From the outside it looks fine. There are mannequins wearing baby-doll nighties in the window. I go into the shop. At first I seem to be the only person there. A helpful assistant comes over and asks me what I am looking for.

"Lingerie, I tell her.

"What type? she says.

"Something, erm, classy, I say.

I am a bit reluctant to use this word. I am surrounded by brash things in magenta and scarlet that have tassels on the nipple area. I can see lots of ribbons and bows and thongs, but nothing classy as such. The assistant scurries off and comes back with something black and cream. It looks OK a basque-type thing and a G-string.

"No G-strings, I say. The assistant runs off and comes back with a pair of undies that look less, well, painful.

"You can try it on, she says helpfully.

I wander through to the back of the shop.

I walk past increasingly disturbing-looking things: skin-tight latex catsuits, nippleless whatsits, things with no crotches, fluffy nipple clamps, handcuffs and oh, goodness, I can barely look other things. The other things section (DVDs and worse) is full of men.

"What are they doing here? I squeak at the assistant.

"Lots of men shop in Ann Summers, she says coolly.

I try on the black and cream corset. I like it. I can even look at myself in the mirror without blushing furiously. I decide to buy it. The assistant rings it up in the till, then tells me shell give me some freebies. She puts a tube of Booty Lube into my bag.

"Jesus Christ! I say.

She gives me a funny look. "Can I say something? she says. "Your generation are so strange about all this. Women in their twenties come in and buy a different vibrator every month or so. Theyre very open about sex and you cant even cope with Booty Lube!

On the way home I think about what she has said. Shes right. Maybe I should try to get in touch with being openly sexy and less embarrassed.

A week later I am in a community church hall near Reading. I am wearing some tracksuit bottoms and a sweat top and standing next to 10 other women. In front of us is a pole. A slim, attractive blonde woman in her forties is showing us what to do. "Right, she says in a businesslike fashion. "Its very easy, really. You just hoick yourselves up and then you do this. She puts her hands on the pole and proceeds to smoothly turn herself upside-down. She then starts spinning round it. "Wow! the woman next to me says.

I look at her. She must be in her fifties. I am about to ask her what she is doing at a pole-dancing class when the teacher spins round and lands on her feet. We all clap politely.

"This isnt just about getting fit, the teacher says, slightly breathlessly. "Its also about feeling sexy. Does anyone here today feel sexy? We all stare at the ground. The teacher sighs. She then suggests we all do a warm-up before we progress on to the pole. The warm-up involves lots of putting our hands on our hips and gyrating around to loud pumping music.

"ARE YOU FEELING IT? the woman shouts above the music. She starts swinging her hips around madly from side to side. She turns her head in the opposite direction and her hair swings from side to side.

The fifty-something woman next to me is grimacing. I dont think shes feeling it. After half an hour of attempting to launch myself up a pole Im not feeling it, either.

I find myself in Paris a week later. I have been told by a chic French friend of mine to pay a trip to Sabbia Rosa, a smart lingerie shop in St Germain. When I walk through the door it reminds me of the old-fashioned small department store near where I grew up, where bras and knickers were kept neatly packed in wooden drawers and served up as offerings by bespectacled assistants.

"What is eet you want? the petite non-bespectacled assistant asks me. I tell her I quite fancy a silk cami-top and some knickers. She finds me something beautiful in ivory, then rummages around in a drawer. "Ere you are, she says, handing me a cream lace-trimmed suspender-belt decorated with small pink roses. It is exquisite. "And some silk stockings? she says, arching an eyebrow. "Be careful with them. They rip easily.

Once I am home I unwrap my suspender-belt and stockings. I stroke them lovingly. They really are beautiful. I can see the allure of something this exquisite. Then I put them back in the bag. I am too worried about the stockings ripping.

As a final attempt to unleash my inner sexual goddess I pay a visit to the Coco de Mer "salon and shop in Covent Garden. I have signed up to a class where I will be able to find my G-spot. This sounds frightening although not as terrifying as the one where you learn to pleasure your man by practising on fruit and wax objects. I ask who goes to these classes. "All sorts of people, the nice assistant tells me. "They are run by Midori and she is very good. I tell her Midori sounds like a drink.

The assistant then helpfully offers to show me round the shop. There are a variety of things that look totally baffling to me. Something I thought was a small bracelet turns out to be a sex aid. In fact, everything is a sex aid. There are whips and paddles and a saddle and ties and masks. I feel as if I am attending a slightly louche house-party. I think I may be beginning to see it when the assistant offers me a corset. It is pale pink and silken, with small lace bows on it. When I try it on the assistant comes in to tighten the ribbons at the back. She then leaves me to gaze at myself.

I stand in the changing-room with its seductive lighting and a musky candle burning. I jut a hip forward. The corset moves with my body. I have a waist and uplifted boobs. The sensation is rather lovely. I buy the corset, even though it is way over my price limit.

When I get home I watch the semi-erotic films on the Coco de Mer members website. The shop assistant has kindly suggested I do this. "Theyre beautiful, she says, "nothing too scary. I watch a woman with long hair have sex with a man on a juddering washing-machine. I am transfixed. I then go and look at my washing-machine. It has childrens smelly socks and underpants spewing out of it. It is in a damp-smelling room. Its not very sexy. I sigh and go and look at my corset, instead.

Later on, reading my cookbook in bed, it comes to me that it is the sensual side of sex I can work on. I love the candles, the oils and the expensive lingerie. I can do silk stockings as long as they dont rip and I like lace and things you can tie up and, conversely, untie. Its a start, I think. I could try seductive. I cant do in-your-face, full-on, G-spot-finding sex, but I might be able to do a washing-machine, just not my own.

Snowdrops in flower, swallows in flight

By Horatio Clare Published: 11:20PM GMT 17 Feb 2010

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Snowdrops Pearls of promise: snowdrops are out in the Rococo Garden at Painswick House, Gloucestershire Photo: ALAMY

And here we are in February, the very basement of the year. It is ever an unkind season, especially so this year, but is there nothing to admire, nothing in it to praise or to like? If we are true lovers of life and nature, not mere fair-weather surfers on the sunlit seasons, we ought to be able to find some marvel in this hard time, this "little bugger of a month" as my godfather, a Welsh hill farmer, called it. The particular ferocity of its cold, the fierceness of Februarys rain are rather amazing. We live on a kind and nurturing part of the planet most of the time; perhaps it does no harm to see its other face.

Driving in from the continent last weekend, having survived 500 miles of snow, the uniquely vile quality of a British sleet storm near Maidstone came as a familiar shock. We have so many varieties of flailing foul weather it is no wonder the forecasters cannot keep up. When it is bad our weather is reputation-setting bad, and we scarcely need the Met Office to tell us that the expected torrential spell is a vintage example.

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A walk in the hills now is a battle, the wind biting your ears, the sheep on tiptoes on the frozen ground; the trees deathly still; the birds either silent or peeping in apparent amazement at the hostility of the air. It is a ruthless time of Darwinian selection out there, "crows-on-posts weather", as my mother says, and each one a hunched little angel of death, wishing illness and injury on every living thing, that they might take its eyes and tongue.

And while it is all viscera in the country, in the cities they have been taking down symbolic hearts and bursting balloons. Appropriate that the major festival of February takes place in the warmth and semi-dark, in candlelight, over dinners at tables for two where lovers make their vows. I always hated the pressure to conform as a romantic on the 14th but we cannot blame Valentine for what commerce has done to his day, which makes good sense as a pagan rite. Its excruciatingly cold out there how about we make a fire (the candle), eat some of our stores (lamb chops new season lamb!), curl up under a fleece in the back of our cave (or in a boutique hotel, ideally) and do what comes naturally. Who knows, maybe we will have a little Sagittarius, come November?

There is something else to like about February: the possibility of power cuts, a favourite with every lover and child, and alongside them the likelihood of snow-cancelled school days hurrah! Naturally we do not want power cuts at the weekends, because that might interfere with one of the great treats of the year, its highlight, as far as thousands of men, women and children of taste all over the continent are concerned: the Six Nations. The oldest and best rugby tournament on earth is worth a whole season of Februarys.

But supposing you cannot stand rugby, or rain, or sleet, and supposing you have no lover nor any prospect of one, and therefore hated Valentine and all his pink and heart-shaped nonsense, and winter sunsets hold no further pleasure for you, and you have walked enough in the cold-bitten fields, and are sick of the twig-veined and dreary sky. Suppose, too, you are in the grip of Lenten abstinence, and money is tight, and bills pressing, and the radio full of crashing currencies and bottom-bumping economies, and imagine you lack the time, the money or the will to take a trip to the southern hemisphere (where it is high summer), then what comfort has February?

Well, it is short. We are over half way. And dazzling, record-breaking relief is promised, according to spring watchers at the National Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society: they say a later blooming than usual will mean a simultaneous flowering of all our wealth of daffs, hyacinths, narcissi, camellias and, my favourite, primroses. Even now the green probes of the daffodils are rising, the spear tips of an army just below the icy horizon. Soon they will unfurl their trumpets: "Ballerinas too early for music, shiverers In draughty the wings of the year," was Ted Hughes description.

The snowdrops are already out, fat little pearls of promise. The lanes of the West Country would be worth a visit in a fortnight or so.

Fine weather predictions may seem a little previous as we freeze in sub Winter-Olympic temperatures (were colder than Vancouver at the moment), and in recent years fair weather has been more wished for than seen, but it really is coming. It is true. I have news, courtesy of the members of the swifts, swallows and martins newsgroup. Along the north African coasts the first migrants have arrived.

In southern Spain there have been sightings of swallows the very heralds of returning life, driven by the same force that "through the green fuse drives the flower", as Dylan Thomas called it. All along Mediterranean littorals the green fuses are sputtering into life. The first swifts have already made landfall in the Levant. Along the walls of the old Kasba of Algiers the fastest swallows are hawking; soon they will cross the sea, and by way of the great rivers, the Ebro, the Loire, the Rhône and the Rhine they will come, restoring the sun to our rain-cleaned skies.

Why, only the other day in Venice there were voices debating whether the first warmth in the sun could cause last Sunday to be considered the first day of spring primavera, an Italian word carrying all the beauty and hope and relief of a land escaping the clutch of cold. Unfortunately, a very realistic and February-like return of sleet, snow and freezing mist rather put paid to those hopes, but the warmth will not be denied for long.

The end of winter south of the Alps is a special time. In the Veneto, where the crocuses are out, the entire region has been in the grip of Carnevale, and who cares what the weather is doing if you are wearing costume, complete with cape, and heading for a masked ball on your buckled shoes? Always so sensible, the Italians, in life if not in politics. And though it is a Greek story, it happened in Italy that spring was born, in Sicily. Let us not forget that the dark and chill are our just price, our bargain for the fair and lazy days. Kidnapped into the underworld, and on hunger-strike, Persephone nevertheless ate the pomegranate seeds, and so for half the year she belongs to Hades, and her mother, Demeter refuses to favour the earth, and lets everything shrivel and die.

But I am glad she ate, poor girl. For what would warmth and light be to us, if we never knew their frigid sisters? We are not swallows, half-cursed to spend our lives in perpetual motion, chasing summer. More faith is asked of us, and another kind of endurance. And so we wait, and keep warm hibernation, late rising and early bedtimes are entirely justified now and take pleasure in every scrap of blue, and the sombre lights of Februarys brief day. For life is not, to paraphrase poet R S Thomas, hurrying on in pursuit of a receding future. Life, sometimes, is ten past three on a bleak February afternoon, as winters curtain rises ever so slowly on an operatic spring. Praise be for kettles and tea.