News

Revelling in the latest growth figures, George Osborne lifted Balls-baiting to a new plane. He was asked an unusually long list of super-friendly questions by euphoric Tory backbenchers. Ones that in the secret dreams of the MPs involved, invite the answer: “Yes. My honourable friend has absolutely hit the nail on the head with that spiffing question correctly mentioning our long-term economic plan, allowing me to lay into the Opposition, and qualifying him for early promotion.”

View from City Road: Stein's spirit haunts gamble

Fifteen years after its ignominious exit from casinos Ladbroke looks set, Gaming Board permitting, to take its place at the croupier's table once again. It is tempting to take the deal as a sign that, although he may have left the board, Cyril Stein's spirit lives on. What better way for Peter George, chief executive, to thank his mentor than to take the company back to its gambling roots?

Playboy for today

Now accepted as a tragi-comic masterpiece, the first performance of JM Synge's Playboy of the Western World sparked off a week of rioting at Dublin's Abbey Theatre in 1907.

Obituary: Sergia da Silva Chagas

SERGIA da SILVA CHAGAS, better known as Dada, was one of the last survivors of the cangaceiros, the bandits of the Brazilian north-east immortalised in Joao Guimaraes Rosa's novel Grande Sertao: Veredas and Glauber Rocha'a 1970s cult film Antonio das Mortes.

Obituary: Micho Russell

Michael (Micho) Russell, musician; born 1915; died Kilcolgan, Co Galway 20 February 1994.

BOOK REVIEW / Twisting a wolf's tale: 'The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood' - Jack Zipes: Routledge, 13.99

In this book Jack Zipes collects some 35 versions of Little Red Riding Hood, from 1697 to the present day, and up to a point they all have the doomed inevitability of myth. Time after time the little girl sets out for her grandmother's, the little girl meets the wolf, the little girl talks to the wolf, the wolf gets to the grandmother's, eats the grandmother and gets into bed, the girl arrives, the rhetoric begins, the climax - 'What big teeth you have, Grandmother]' - hovers within their grasp. And then what? Well, the wolf kills the girl. Or is stopped from killing her by another man, or rapes the girl, or is killed by the girl, or becomes her lover, or becomes the girl. Was any other fairy-tale ever so uncertain about its ending?

The case of the curved cucumber: Bureaucrats are exposing EC folklore as plain silly, writes Leonard Doyle

DESPITE persistent reports to the contrary, the European Community is not trying to force fishermen to wear hair- nets, nor is it insisting that trawlers always carry a supply of condoms.

BOOK REVIEW / A lay saint of unbelonging: 'Genet' - Edmund White: Chatto & Windus, 25 pounds - Michele Roberts on Jean Genet, outsider, traitor, thief - and genius

DURING HIS lifetime Genet was dubbed bastard, thief, pervert, revolutionary, saint. Since his death in 1986, the myths have gathered round him, rubbing off his rough edges, plastering over the cracks in his legend's facade, reducing him to either sanctity or villainy. So this biography comes as a corrective. Avoiding the traps so many other biographers fall into, hagiography at one extreme and sadistic iconoclasm at the other, White restores the image of Genet not to some original pristine condition but to something more interestingly flawed.

Letter: May Day - there's been a hijacking

Sir: Margaret Maxwell's comment ('Why not scrap the weekend as well?', 2 April) that May Day 'has only shallow roots' compared with Victorian bank holidays shows shocking ignorance of our cultural history.

BOOK REVIEW / The sad story of a giant in love with a nymph: The first life of Adamastor - Andre Brink: Secker & Warburg, pounds 7.99

ACCORDING to 16th-century legend, Adamastor began as a Titan and ended up as the Cape of Good Hope. Naturally, Europeans planted their mythical beings on distant soil, just as they projected them on to the stars. But what if there were more to it than that? What if, as Andre Brink asks in his new novel, the tale was also inspired by an indigenous prototype, a native Adamastor?

Who's who in the royal pecking order

JAPANESE working practices have not yet penetrated the Queen's Household. Only senior figures in the hierarchy, known as Members, are allowed to eat in the Household dining room, where they are served by liveried footmen.

THEATRE / Bodies and souls: Joseph Farrell on Unidentified Human Remains . . . at the Traverse, Edinburgh

STRANGELY for a play in which undressed bodies are so much on display, it is the disembodied voice, emerging from the shadows or carried between the bleeps of an answering machine, which makes the deepest, most disturbing impact in Brad Fraser's snappily titled Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love.

Weekend work: Cuttings: Arboreal matters

TREE enthusiasts of all kinds, tree seed collectors in Scotland, woodsmen in the Lake District, coppicers, conservationists and folklorists all have their say in an eight-part series, Spirit of Trees, which starts next Friday on Channel 4 at 9pm.

A loyalist killer known as King Rat has entered Northern Ireland's grim folklore. David McKittrick reports

AS SOON as it was broadcast on Monday that an elderly Catholic couple had been killed in their Co Tyrone cottage, the word went round: King Rat did it; King Rat has struck again; no one is safe; who's next?

TELEVISION / Getting rowdy with Gaudi: Giles Smith hears the history of Barcelona in 50 minutes on tour with Robert Hughes in BBC 1's Omnibus special

Big man, Robert Hughes. And last night, in an Omnibus special (BBC 1), he was big in Barcelona. There he was in the town hall, squeezing out of a lift with all the other workers down around his knees. And there he was again, occupying more than his fair share of the back of a cab. These particular scenes were filmed through the windscreen, apparently by someone lying on the bonnet. It was nice to get a different angle on that old visitor-in-taxi routine, although this may have been a practical decision rather than a creative one, responding to the fact that, with Hughes inside the vehicle, there wasn't enough room for a camera.
Voices
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
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
Career Services

Day In a Page

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