News Arms deals fixer Ziad Takieddine has been refused entry to Britain

A controversial fixer for arms deals linked to an alleged corruption scandal that engulfed Nicolas Sarkozy has been refused entry to Britain.

Tests on spy's body draw blank

Tests on the body of MI6 spy Gareth Williams have revealed no traces of any foreign substances that may have led to his death.

The enigma of a code-breaker's death

The reputation of a brilliant man who served his country will be for ever tainted by the failure to explain his demise

MI6 chief attends spy's funeral

Spy Gareth Williams was laid to rest today in a service attended by the head of MI6.

Police appeal over couple seen near spy Gareth Williams' flat

Police investigating the death of British code-breaker Gareth Williams today appealed for help to trace two people seen near his Government flat.

One Minute With: Tim Waterstone, novelist and entrepreneur

Where are you now and what can you see?

Tigerlily's Orchids, By Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell's novels of London amount to a modern cultural history of the city – a fictional urban archaeology of Holland Park in the hippie-chick era, redbrick terraces before and after the attentions of the "property ladder". Now she turns her sharp powers of observation on to a small suburban block of private flats, very precisely located in the social scale, too far away from the centre to be really expensive, just a cut above council housing. Rendell charts the local changes in sharp detail: the closure of the local off-licence, the problems of Mr Ali's corner shop.

Dylan Jones: 'If you had to explain a disappearance, or had to rate an evening out, a simple ‘Groucho’ would suffice'

So there we were, Frank Dunphy and myself, sitting in one of the upstairs bars in the Groucho Club, swapping war stories. Did I remember the night that ****** ran through the club naked (apart from a half drunk martini); did he remember the night ****** *** was found downstairs in the ***** covered in *******? Oh yes, we did. Didn't we just.

Francesca da Rimini, Opera Holland Park, London<br/>Prom 26, Royal Albert Hall, London

'Francesca' is dangerously foxy, but catch her if you can

La forza del destino, Opera Holland Park, London<br/>Fantastic Mr Fox, Opera Holland Park, London<br/>Proms 10 and 14, Royal Albert Hall, London

Suave conducting and searing performances make sense of Verdi's sprawling, brawling opera of ideas

Belvedere, Off Abbotsbury Road, Holland Park, London W8

Sitting in the heart of Holland Park like a miniaturised Alhambra Palace, the Belvedere is a thing of considerable beauty. It dates back to the 17th century, when it was a summer ballroom connected to Holland House. A century ago, it was made over as an art deco palace and more recently it's been redesigned by David Collins in a mixum-gatherum of old and new styles. Walk in and you gasp at its crazy opulence: the mile-high ceiling, the beautiful arches, the long, white silk curtains, the hanging white Botticelli oyster-shells, the silver mirrorballs like huge pearls, the dangling Fortuny lamps with their saucy nipple tassels. It's all fabulously swish and kitschily chaotic. Outside, the restaurant's name glows in blue neon. Inside, the far wall is dominated by one of Damien Hirst's vast, circular butterfly paintings. But for all these strenuous attempts at trendiness, there's something stolidly old-fashioned about the place: it's the mullioned windows, perhaps, or the long service table that dominates the middle of the room.

Inheritance, By Nicholas Shakespeare

What would you do if you unexpectedly inherited £17 million? That's the hook for Nicholas Shakespeare's new novel, which settles this peculiar conundrum on the unprepared shoulders of Andy Larkham. Perhaps Andy deserves a break, what with working for a pittance for a tiny self-help publishing house, and getting unceremoniously dumped by his model girlfriend.

Don Giovanni, Holland Park, London<br/>Idomeneo, Coliseum, London<br/>Zaide, Sadler's Wells, London<br/>Simon Boccanegra, Royal Opera House, London

Stephen Barlow brings out the comedy in Mozart's lustiest opera, but Ian Page's melodrama-by-committee is just dire

Mozart Don Giovanni, Opera Holland Park

There’s narcissism and there’s narcissism and in his terrific new staging of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for Opera Holland Park director Stephen Barlow leaves us in no doubt as to who’s the fairest of them all.

Pelléas et Mélisande, Holland Park, London <br />The Pearl Fishers, Coliseum, London <br />Carmen, Holland Park, London

Thwarted love under canvas is both highly poetic and oddly provocative

Tosca, Coliseum, London<br/>After Life, Barbican, London

Malfitano's 'Tosca' does not make a case for the diva as director
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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