This Year It Will Be Different, By Maeve Binchy

If you have never sampled Binchy, this volume of short stories is a good introduction to the easy-going charms of Ireland's most practised storyteller. Set around the Christmas holidays, these neatly plotted tales of festive fall-out offer the private miseries of jilted brides, erring husbands and demanding children.

Claire Beale on Advertising: BBH’s hot-toddy for ailing Johnnie Walker

Johnnie wasn’t well. Really, quite yellow. He was old, but this is one business where age is quality. Still, after 180 years he was going downhill pretty fast and the prognosis was bad.

The Beverage Report: The whisky convert

I've never been a whisky fan. Why discuss the merits of different malts when you could be slamming tequilas? Even the rock-chic of Jack Daniels, often pictured in the grip of Zoë Ball or Sara Cox in the years before ladettes fell out of favour, was ruined for me by the fact that it was my grandmother's tipple.

When is a Scotch not a Scotch? When it is aged in France...

Aged in barrels and distilled from cognac and grape juice in central France, Le Whisky Bercloux is presented to its growing band of fans as a triumphant melding of French and Scottish traditions that produce a spirit from the Highlands which "releases the perfume of French honey".

Preview: Bellowhead, North Devon Folk Festival, Ilfracombe

North Devon fields its first eleven

Diageo pins hopes on brand loyalty

Global drinks giant Diageo lowered its growth forecast yesterday against a background of rising costs and a slowing global economy, as it delivered flat full-year pre-tax profits.

Album: Grantura, In Dreams and Other Stories (Ruffa Lane Records)

As if to prove that Lucky Soul's debut album was no fluke, the charmingly independent Ruffa Lane Records now invites us to put pop prejudice to one side and welcome a self-proclaimed Americana group from the wrong side of the Atlantic.

Tom Waits, Playhouse, Edinburgh

The standing ovation hangs in the air as soon as there are enough people in the venue to engage in one. Tom Waits is one of those infrequently touring artists who inspires such anticipation and more, and has grown men shrieking his name and genuflecting before the stage while the house lights are still up and half the crowd are yet to file in.

Cranachan with raspberries

Serves 4

Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Johnnie Walker, Radio 2 DJ

'Rock'n'roll fuelled my school rebellion'

Whisky reborn as 'the new champagne'

Can single malt, stereotypically the tipple of ageing detectives and Scotch snobs, have street cred? The UK's top brands – and some of our most prominent celebrity drinkers – seem to think so.

Shortbread

Makes about 30 (serve 2-3 per person)

Credit crisis? Will someone please tell the stock market

We've had months of turmoil but the FTSE 100 is only down slightly on the turn of the year. Margareta Pagano and Simon Evans find that the share-index baton has passed to energy and mining groups

Going solo: Mark Hix's on how to launch a restaurant

If you're opening a new restaurant you've got to be bold and think of something different, which is tricky these days as most things have been done.

Album: Son Of Dave, O3 (Kartel)

Benjamin Darvill’s performances as one-man-band Son Of Dave have probably made him a cooler prospect now than when he was in the charts as part of Canadian alt.rockers Crash Test Dummies.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on