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Sadly no reports of a Routemaster singing Wonderwall

Book of a Lifetime: Love Medicine, By Louise Erdrich

In 1986, my husband and I went to Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands for Christmas. We ate ice cream under palm trees and swam with exotic fish. But then the weather turned stormy. I passed the rainy days on the lanai, lying in a hammock, reading books, and looking for inspiration. I was a beginning fiction writer and had written a total of three short stories, each with its own first-person voice. I had wrestled with the idea of revising the stories so that they belonged to one family and were told by one voice. But the storylines made that impossible.

Danny Alexander’s father Di takes aim at ‘bedroom tax’

The father of Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has launched a scathing attack on the “bedroom tax” in the annual report of a Scottish housing association.

Paperback review: Forest of a Thousand Daemons, By D O Fagunwa (Trs by Wole soyinka)

First published in Nigeria in 1939,  D O Fagunwa’s Forest of a Thousand Daemons is a treasure of world literature: it was one of the first African novels, and the first to be written in the Yoruba language. It tells of Akara-ogun, a legendary hunter; he battles shape-shifting “ghommids”, marries an enchantress and carries out “gory assignments” at the behest of a giant ostrich.

The help desk: My children are addicted to computers - should I restrict their time online?

Q. I have a son aged 12 and a daughter of 14. I'm devoted to both of them but I'm becoming extremely frustrated by their addiction to computers. My 14-year-old daughter in particular seems almost obsessed and this is a cause of quite a lot of conflict in our house. I restrict her time on the internet (including iPhones) to an hour a day (half-an-hour for my son), but they're resentful and always trying to get around it, and it's getting more and more difficult to police.

Green heaven: Most of Asia is a paradise for vegetarians, but that’s not the case everywhere

Chris Caldicott: A few magic words that could save a vegetarian traveller's bacon

"Ana natbateeyah", "Watashi wa nikku-o tabemasen", "Ich bin Vegetarier"...

Broken Homes, By Ben Aaronovitch. Gollancz, £14.99

London is, like all cities, made up of layer upon layer of story, and not all of those stories are about the real and mundane. The Matter of London has for a long time been a staple of the literature of the fantastic. Among the hipsters and banksters, the rich and the poor, it is a city where shamans and wizards seem plausibly our neighbours.

Labour has asked the Government’s independent tax and spending watchdog to audit its 2015 election manifesto

Labour Party conference: Ed Balls pledges 25 hours' free childcare for working parents

Shadow Chancellor said he would expand childcare by raising extra £800m from Government’s levy on banks

Clifford Chance trainee lawyer faces sack after describing his work as 'f***ing people over for money'

A trainee with City law firm Clifford Chance faces the sack after a video has emerged of him drunk and describing his work as “f***ing people over for money”.

Five-minute memoir: Annabel Markova recalls the day her mum cast a spell on her

A knotty legal dispute is resolved in the unlikeliest of ways for the author

Twitter users can now share looped video clips of six seconds' length using the comapny's standalone iPhone app, Vine

Will Vine and video kill the snapshot?

Are we done with the snapshot? Following an Independent report on Vine last week (the 'six-second video app that is reinventing film') Slate's Farhad Manjoo believes so. The thesis runs like this: if we've got the technology to take video - and transmit it at high speed - then the need for actually-not-moving-at-all photography is pretty much null and void.

Audio: Caught in the Net

Listen to the tracks mentioned in Caught in the Net below:

The future according to Microsoft: the Magic Window revolutionizes video chat

<b>David Phelan</b> has an exclusive peek behind the scenes at Microsoft’s research and development facilities – here’s his first report

Review: Broken Homes (Rivers of London 4), By Ben Aaronovitch

Magic is like gravity, even in Southwark

Goat: Secretive Swedes go global

Goat: Secretive Swedes go global

Daft Punk may be the most successful act since Kiss to make an impact while disguising their identities, but they are not alone. A psychedelic outfit claiming to hail from the backwoods of Sweden have been causing a stir while hiding behind ritualistic masks, and telling an unlikely backstory.

Album: The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars (Columbia)

The story so far: man meets woman and the pair soon discover that their singing voices have more chemistry than a science lab.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
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Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
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After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
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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
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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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