John Cooper Clarke: ‘I didn’t want to quit heroin’

While conceding the drug was ‘fabulous the first time’, the veteran performer has one overwhelming message: don’t do it

John Cooper Clarke, the poet and performer who became famous during the punk rock era of the late 1970s, has said he didn’t want to quit taking heroin and weaned himself off the drug for the sake of society rather than for his own health.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Clarke recalled the addiction which dominated much of his life in the 1980s, when he was living in a flat in Brixton, south London, with Nico, the late singer and muse of the Velvet Underground.

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By any standards, Theresa May was a failure

The departing PM’s outstanding characteristic has been her self-delusion

Theresa Mary May is the only woman in Britain to have held two great offices of state. For that she will go down in history. She will also be remembered for her stoicism, her sponge-like capacity to absorb humiliation after humiliation, and her inability to see off a pack of immature bully boys who should have been shown the exit door.

What to make of her legacy as the political baton is passed back to the good old boys – overwhelmingly white, privileged, pseudo-alpha male, metaphorically dressed in the safari suits of our less than illustrious colonial past – content to resume business as it always was: relatively female free? May is a disastrous politician. Regardless of where you stand – left, right or centre, Remainer or Leave – by any standards of what makes a strong leader, sound of judgement, perceptive of character, empathetic, intellectually capable of thinking several moves ahead of the opposition and anchored by a vision of what you want to do with power and the ruthlessness to carry it through no matter how turbulent the storms, she has failed.

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Food banks scramble to stop a million children going hungry over holidays

More families turn to food parcels to make up for loss of free school meals, extra childcare costs and benefit payment delays

Church and community food banks are preparing for their busiest summer yet, providing meals for children during the school holidays as an increasing number of families struggle with delays in benefit payments.

The Trussell Trust, which supports more than 1,200 food banks, many based in churches, said demand over the next few weeks could exceed last year’s record of 87,496 food parcels during the summer holidays. The 2018 figure was a 20% increase on the same period the previous year.

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David Gauke to quit government if Boris Johnson becomes PM

Justice secretary says he could not serve under ex-foreign secretary if he pursues no-deal Brexit

The justice secretary, David Gauke, will quit the government this week if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister.

Gauke, who has served in Theresa May’s cabinet since she took office in June 2016, said he would not be able to serve under the former foreign secretary if he pursues a no-deal Brexit.

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Emily Thornberry: ‘Being chippy is a good thing’

A traumatic childhood, losing her long-absent father to dementia, public spats with her party… it seems nothing can keep the shadow foreign secretary down

Aged 17, broke and living alone, Emily Thornberry had a number of low-paid jobs. She was a barmaid at the Hammersmith Palais; there was also a stint in a factory stacking boxes and folding cards. Neither of these youthful experiences, however, has proved quite as indelible as the time she spent as a cleaner on the Townsend Thoresen ferry from Dover to Zeebrugge. The crossing was often rocky and as, a result, passengers were frequently sick. On one occasion, she arrived dutifully at the loos, mop and bucket in hand, only to find every last basin and lavatory pebble-dashed with vomit. What did she do? Was she tempted to make a sudden break for the upper deck and fill her lungs with the North Sea breeze? No, not a bit of it. “I quietly locked the door behind me and I just got on with it,” she says, wrinkling her nose.

It’s hard to resist making a metaphor out of this anecdote, given that many people are wondering for how much longer the vast majority of Labour MPs intend to put up with the stench that currently rises from their party. Our meeting takes place in Thornberry’s constituency office in Islington a week after the screening of the Panorama programme in which former Labour staffers alleged that key Labour figures had interfered with investigations into complaints of antisemitism in the party: a period of days during which, to put it mildly, quite a lot has happened. A group of MPs, among them Yvette Cooper and Stephen Kinnock, has urged the party’s national executive committee to set up an independent investigation into the allegations. Some 200 former and current Labour party staff have challenged Corbyn to resign if he cannot renew trust in its dealings with its employees (the whistleblowers had to break nondisclosure agreements in order to speak out). Sixty Labour peers – a full third of the party’s members in the Lords – have taken out an advert accusing Corbyn of having “failed the test of leadership”. The atmosphere grows more febrile by the minute.

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Market Harborough reveals the key to being ‘liveable’: homes we can afford

East Midlands town is unexpected winner in a search for the best places for affordability and quality of life. Its proud residents explain why they like it

“We’ve still got a fishmonger. How many places still have that?” asked Kate Gander, listing the merits of her home, Market Harborough. In fact, she struggled to find anything negative at all to say about the Leicestershire town. “It’s got fantastic railway connections and it’s not too overrun by big businesses,” she said.

Market Harborough today comes top in a league table of the most – and least – liveable places in England. Balancing the affordability of homes with factors that make a place desirable to live in, such as employment opportunities and the performance of local schools, Harborough, Hart in Hampshire, the Isles of Scilly and Chorley in Lancashire are at the top of the table. Hackney, in east London, Middlesbrough and Manchester languish at the bottom.

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England’s pupils stuck in classroom as cuts put paid to end-of-term school trips

Figures show that the traditional group summer outing, aimed at widening horizons and building character, is now in steep decline

The end of summer term is traditionally a time for children to escape the classroom on a school trip. But increasing numbers of teachers say they have had to cut back on such outings because of rising costs and falling staff levels. Some of the country’s leading cultural venues have also reported a fall in the number of educational visits.

“Cutting back on school trips or abandoning them altogether is yet another example of the detrimental impact the crisis in school funding is having on the lives of children and young people who are being denied access to enriching experiences they might not otherwise get,” said Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union.

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Greedy parking enforcement companies are issuing hefty fines to carers and nurses

Private companies are issuing hefty penalty charge notices – sometimes even in a hospital’s own car park

Community nurse Gemma Hayes* was on call and on a tight schedule. She left her car in the residents’ car park of a block where her last patient of the day lived and displayed her professional carer’s badge on the dashboard. When she returned she’d been charged £60.

“I was allocated 30 minutes for the call but spent an extra 45 minutes unpaid overtime as the elderly, housebound patient had additional needs,” says Hayes, who earns £24,200 and regularly works an extra unpaid hour on top of her eight-hour shifts. “I appealed, offering confirmation that I was carrying out a patient visit. It was rejected.

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Titan of mythology movies left behind a treasure trove of ideas

Lost and rare material from master animator Ray Harryhausen could now inspire a new film epic years after his death

He was the acclaimed film-maker who pioneered animation effects for masterpieces such as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans of 1963 and 1981 respectively. Ray Harryhausen created extraordinary characters, including sword-wielding skeletons and a Medusa with writhing asps as hair, for 16 films – yet a new book about his “lost” screen projects reveals that he also worked on nearly 80 more films.

Hundreds of sketches and models that reflect his visionary ideas are being published for the first time. They include the great white whale for John Huston’s 1956 Moby Dick, though he never got to work on the production, and Big Ben’s tower snapping in two as a tidal wave engulfs London in a remake of The Deluge that he never got off the ground.

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Iran, Heathrow, HS2 – and Brexit: the big decisions facing the new prime minister

The next PM takes office on Wednesday – and already has his work cut out

After 24 hours of formalities that will end on Wednesday afternoon with the Queen inviting the new leader of the Tory party to form a government, the transfer of power from the 76th prime minister of the United Kingdom to the 77th will be a clinical and fairly brutal business.

“We have been told we will have to be out of the building – having handed in our phones – and have left through the Cabinet Office within half an hour of proceedings ending at the palace,” said a member of Theresa May’s Downing Street staff. “From that moment, we are out of a job.”

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The SNP’s failure to defend abused politicians belies its caring image | Kevin McKenna

Female MPs and MSPs with unpopular views on abortion and gender have been the target of vile attacks

Do Tory prime ministers, on taking office, begin immediately to brace themselves for the moment when they are finally undone by the blows of their friends? There was Theresa May last week reflecting on her own wretched tenure and admitting that she hadn’t reckoned with the hatred that had engulfed her party over Brexit. “You know what some people call us: the nasty party,” she told the Tory conference in 2002 when she was its chairwoman. Like several of her predecessors, she eventually came to discover that her party reserves an exquisite level of malevolence for its own.

They spend their years in power striving to convince voters that compassion and decency lie at the party’s heart. In the end, they are knifed by those grey men with the vulpine grins when they are deemed to be of no further use. How else did she think it would end in a party that devised the Windrush scandal and the evil of benefits sanctions?

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Keir Starmer seeks alliance against no-deal Brexit with Tory ex-ministers

Cross-party move to foil ‘disastrous exit’ comes as economic forecasts pile pressure on next PM

Labour will seek immediate talks with Tory ministers who resign from the government on Wednesday – including the chancellor, Philip Hammond – in the hope of building a cross-party alliance to prevent Boris Johnson from embracing a no-deal Brexit.

The plans, revealed to the Observer by shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer, underline the extent of opposition the probable next prime minister will face from across the House of Commons if he fails to negotiate a new Brexit deal that can pass through parliament by late autumn.

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