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'We were exotic strangers competing for notches on the bedpost'

Il tabarro / Gianni Schicchi, Hackney Empire, London<br/>Dialogues des Carm&#233;lites, Guildhall School of Music, London

Greedy relatives scramble to the finish in order to inherit in a Puccini comedy, while Poulenc's gift is pathos

Il tabarro/Gianni Schicchi, English Touring Opera, Hackney Empire

English Touring Opera are on the road again, and as their Puccini double-bill demonstrates, are on top form. The curtain rises on a rusty, dusty, smoky quayside by the Seine, as the small orchestra does a fine imitation of a large one to evoke gently rocking boats and the palpitations of suppressed love. Thus does ‘Il tabarro’ – ‘the cloak’ – embark on its doom-laden course.

Mogwai, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London

It's sobering to realise that Mogwai have now been on the scene for 15 years. No longer the Blur-baiting noisenik upstarts, they're probably now the elder statesmen of the entire post-rock movement, and they have the pattern baldness to match.

Vicar hits out at council's ban on lapdancing clubs

Move will only drive sex workers underground

Louboutin: The very sole of Shoreditch

East London's Shoreditch is set to become a mini Bond Street, with a raft of upmarket brands eyeing the area. Parisian high-end footwear retailer Christian Louboutin – whose shoes sell for more than £350 a pair – is in talks to take a store on Redchurch Street.

Jason Lytle, Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, London

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

Mark Ronson and the Business Intl, Hackney Empire, London

He keeps producing the goods

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, Hackney Empire, London

They were once "two idiots dancing toward a canyon" and tonight Russell Brand, who coined that phrase on his last live tour, and Jonathan Ross were reunited publicly for the first time since Sachsgate.

First Night: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, Hackney Empire, London

Brand and Ross reunited for an inoffensive new chapter

Abandoman: Pic 'n' Mixtape, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

There are three phrases you need to understand the Irish hip-hop improv duo Abandoman. "I'm like y'know", "I gotta say" and "What can I say?" No need to memorise them, you'll be hearing them a lot. In fact, they feature in every composition the outfit conjures up.

Christina Patterson: Why is social housing such a mess?

What started as a much-needed escape route from the slums that were, for decades, the working classes' only accommodation option, has become a racket

Manners, multiculturalism, and the battle of Stamford Hill

An 'Independent' columnist's attack on the alleged rudeness of the London suburb's Jewish residents has provoked a fevered debate. Was she right? Jerome Taylor reports

Album: Professor Green, Alive Till I'm Dead (Virgin)

If you've switched on the radio this summer, you'll already have heard Professor Green's utterly functionless, and funkless, cover of SOS Band's "Just Be Good to Me" which proves that "feat Lily Allen" is a caveat on a par with "may cause nausea".

Inside/Outside Cinema pays homage to Mary Wollstonecraft

Dalston residents may be surprised to learn that Mary Wollstonecraft once lived on their doorstep. The 18th-century feminist and commentator was born in Spitalfields and set up a school for girls on Newington Green. And tomorrow, at a one-night only, pop-up Inside/Outside Cinema in Gillett Square, there's a chance to find out more about her life and legacy.

Male stripper quits teaching job

A male teacher decided to leave his job after his pupils discovered he was moonlighting as a stripper, it emerged today.

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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
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas