Life and Style

It probably contravenes some unwritten rule to begin a light-hearted examination of the week in technology with a reference to Jimmy Savile, but a few days ago I remembered an episode of Jim'll Fix It in the 1980s where some lucky youngster had his room kitted out with all the latest gadgets from the Ideal Home Show, including some automated curtains. These curtains elicited gasps of wonder from my teenage self as I entertained the notion that, in the future, we'd be relieved of the endless, life-sapping drudgery of having to drag light pieces of material along a rail, sometimes as frequently as twice a day.

Jason Lytle, Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London

Maybe you think you haven't heard of Jason Lytle.

Album: Brasstronaut, Mount Chimaera (Unfamiliar)

Here's something different.

Money Insider: Put your credit rating back on track with the help of good old-fashioned banking

It seems that barely a day passes without a bank or building society launching a new super-low-rate loan, an interest-free credit card or a cheap overdraft. However tempting this seemingly never-ending supply of low-cost finance may sound, the reality is that unless you have a pristine credit record you'll have little or no chance of being accepted for any of it. Whilst the tightening of lending policy will protect the bottom line for providers, the flip side is that a rapidly increasing number of people are now finding themselves excluded from mainstream credit.

Leading article: Thanks to the internet, the customer is king again. Long may he reign

TripAdvisor, the consumer website for travellers, faces the threat of a lawsuit from hoteliers and others who claim they are being damaged by unsubstantiated and malicious reviews. The website, it appears, may have to fight its corner in court.

Ocado chief executive Tim Steinter looks to the future as sales climb by 30%

The chief executive of Ocado, the online grocer, said his focus was on its share price over the medium term as they tumbled again yesterday.

Album: Hayes, The Passions / Schola Cantorum...(Glossa)

William Hayes spent most of his working life in Oxford. Doomed to obscurity by metrocentricity, he is revealed as a significant talent in this rendition of The Passions (1750) with Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.

Brian Viner: Pressing all the wrong buttons

Alexander Graham Bell would turn in his grave if he knew how many people have come to regard his great invention as the enemy

Consuming Issues: Why food shops are becoming DIY superstores

Beep, beep ... BEEP! Being a checkout assistant surely can't be one of the most interesting jobs in what my school used to call "the world of work". Waiting in a queue of time-poor, mildly peeved shoppers is not much fun either. So there are unlikely to be many tears shed at the end of the traditional checkout, but it's a tearless revolution which causes me some internal harrumphing, and probably won't do the retailers much good either.

Electric dreams: Is it the end for robot development?

We were promised a life of leisure thanks to hard-working robots and fiendishly clever cyborgs. But the android fantasy has largely been terminated, argues Michael Fitzpatrick

Minor British Institutions: The British Toilet Association

It is all too easy to deride the BTA – until you find yourself caught short, in which case you might want to sign up to their mission statement: "More and better toilets". It reminds us that our public lavvys were once the envy of the world, a national expression of our excellence in sewerage and plumbing.

Album: El Nuevo Mundo, Folias Criollas / Savall (Alia Vox)

Viol supremo Jordi Savall continues his exploration of musical colonialism with this sumptuous collection of Spanish, Creole and Mestizo canarios, cantadaos, fandangos, jácaras and morenas.

Ton Koopman/Tini Mathot, Wigmore Hall, London

It may be thirty years since ‘early music’ escaped from its ghetto, but we are still finding fresh worlds within it.

Chloride's £864m offer from ABB could spark Emerson counterbid

Chloride Group is all set for a bidding war after recommending a £864m offer from the Swiss electrical engineering group ABB, just weeks after turning down a £723m bid from US rival Emerson Electric.

Jonsi, HMV Forum, London

Sonic seer is a wonder of nature

Summertime 2100, and the living isn't easy

What will London be like a century from now? Seven degrees warmer, with water-absorbent streets and parched public parks. Marek Kohn paints an unnerving picture of metropolitan life in the sweaty grip of a radically changed climate
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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
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A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
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J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
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Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
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Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
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Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
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scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick