Arts and Entertainment

Does success in one genre guarantee it in another?

Folk America, The Barbican, London

Old-time ramblers and other clichés

The Leisure Society, Bush Hall, London

The Leisure Society were strangely absent from various lists of forthcoming stars of 2009 – which means either that they were the victims of an outrageous slight, or that the acts chosen ahead of them must be amazingly good.

2008: The year in ideas

What were the shafts of original thinking that illuminated a gloomy world in 2008? Here, <i>Independent</i> writers pick 10 of the best

Howard Jacobson: Few can do love and loss like the Old Testament &ndash; except Leonard Cohen

Can you see where the singer got his taste for the eroticism of betrayal?

Leading article: Lighten up

They say the darkest hour is just before the dawn. But to suggest that now we have got the longest night of the year out of the way, things can (as a famous song once put it) only get better would, sadly, be stretching it a bit.

Glory, glory as 'Hallelujah' dominates Christmas chart

Hallelujah, "Hallelujah". The X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke won the battle for Christmas No 1 with her cover of Leonard Cohen's song – beating a version by Jeff Buckley, who drowned aged 30 in May 1997, into second place.

Leading article: The year we learned to dance lightly

Everything that we thought we knew was turned upside down in 2008. Gordon Brown was finished. Inflation was a bit of a worry. Unfunded tax cuts were the kind of nonsense that lost votes. America would never elect a black president. Simon Cowell had had his day.

Andy McSmith: Cohen's verses can be cut to fit

Writing "Hallelujah" cost the Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen a lot of time and pain. He just kept on writing verse after verse, for years on end, until he had completed about 80. Then he threw most of them away.

Hallelujah - a song with a life of its own

The X Factor winner's single will be a cover of Leonard Cohen's glorious spiritual hymn, following versions by Dylan, Jeff Buckley and many others. Purists may wince, but this great song has taken on a life of its own. By Elisa Bray

Letters: Terrorism, terrorists, them and us

Keep blaming 'them' and the terror will go on

Howard Jacobson: Thanks to Leonard Cohen, I can see the light that slips through the crack

It&rsquo;s like a reprimand to people of my temperament. Could he be singing to me?

Pandora: Opik's anti-terror crusade continues

He may be down but the man's not out: having lost out on the Liberal Democrat presidency, Lembit Opik has no intention of going quietly.

David Lister: Who cares about yesterday's men?

Journalists never fare very well with David Hare. The playwright once wrote that "The Independent is staffed by fools who know nothing about art". That was this paper consigned to the cultural dustbin. And in his latest play, the profession as a whole gets short shrift. The token journalist is, as our critic put it, a "slimeball" who sleeps with the home secretary's daughter, when she is only 16.

Boyd Tonkin: Breaking the ice for poetry and pop

The Week in Books

Fionn Regan, 229, London

A haunting wail of harmonica signals the arrival of Fionn Regan. Standing in the spotlight, battered guitar draped around his neck, you could be forgiven for getting caught up in the moment.

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Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent