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A hilltop escape with that healing feeling

Rupert Murdoch has stated that he is trying transcendental meditation

'Trying transcendental meditation... not that easy to get started': Rupert Murdoch goes in search of his inner hippie

Holy media moguls! Has Rupert Murdoch discovered his spiritual side? Will the global maestro of plain dealing, pragmatism and unfettered capitalism reveal a mystical side to his thunderstruck associates?

Star tenor Jonas Kaufmann

Classical review: Jonas Kaufmann, Philharmonia, Rieder, Royal Festival Hall, London

Verdi or Wagner? Posing the musical question of the year, tenor Jonas Kaufmann answers it by saying that he has vacillated between them, unable to decide whose music he prefers. He finally declares that they are mutually beneficial: "After singing Wagner you have an extra dose of power for the drama in Verdi, and after singing Verdi, it is much easier to sing Wagner, as the composer intended, with Italian legato." It was this latter course that he adopted at the Royal Festival Hall, backed by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Jochen Rieder.

Ulrike Anton, Russell Ryan, David Parry, Lost Generation: Schulhoff, Ullmann, Tauský (exil.arte)

Album review: Ulrike Anton, Russell Ryan, David Parry, Lost Generation: Schulhoff, Ullmann, Tauský (exil.arte)

The Austrian label exil.arte is dedicated to unearthing lost works by forgotten composers deemed “degenerate” by the Nazis – in most cases, simply a synonym for “Jewish”.

Rupert Thomson

Book of a lifetime: On the High Wire by Philippe Petit

In 1985 I worked for the Strand, New York’s most famous second-hand bookstore.

Pope Benedict XVI's leads the Angelus prayer from the window

In Pictures: Pope Benedict XVI gives final Sunday blessing

The Independent picture desk selects the best images from St Peter's Square

Thousands attend Pope Benedict XVI's blessing

Pope Benedict XVI blessed the faithful from his window overlooking St Peter's Square for the first time since announcing his resignation, cheered by an emotional crowd of tens of thousands of well-wishers from around the world.

In the deep end: A bather at the Hampstead Heath men’s pond, north London

Review: Pondlife: A Swimmer's Journal, By Al Alvarez

Journey with gritted teeth through hell and cold water

In The Beginning Was The End, Somerset House, London

Theatre-goers are used to solicitous, nannying notices about strobe-lighting, nudity and even cigarette-smoking at the entrance to productions.

Paperback review: HHhH, By Laurent Binet (trs by Sam Taylor)

The main character of this 'true novel' is the Nazi Reinhard Heydrich – the title comes from the SS phrase, "Himlers Hirn heisst Heydrich" ("Himmler's brain is called Heydrich") – career murderer and a chief architect of the Final Solution, a sadist who deliberately allows a political opponent to bleed to death rather than finish him off with a second bullet, devoid of redeeming features, unless a talent for the violin counts.

Breathless splendour: Creative director of American Vogue, Grace Coddington

IoS Books of the Year 2012: Biography and memoir

The lives of the saints and the sinned against

Boyd Tonkin: Is the etiquette of spoiler-avoidance a crime against critical standards?

Spoiler alert: this column not only discloses crucial details about the denouement of Ian Rankin's latest novel. It identifies the murderer in Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap - now celebrating its 60th birthday on the West End stage. So, if you genuinely care enough, au revoir and hasta la vista.

Album: Jason Lytle, Dept. of Disappearance (Anti-)

Jason Lytle's second solo album continues his debut's fascination with his reclusive Montana existence, but here that fascination is used in the service of an overarching concept about escape and disappearance.

Video: Obama and Romney give Candy Crowley a hard time during the second Presidential Debate

Who is Candy Crowley? The short(ish) answer is she's an US news journalist and CNN's chief political correspondent. The longer answer is she's the journalist chosen to moderate the Presidential Debates and she's in hot water right now over her commitment to doing her job properly.

Merivel: a man of his time, By Rose Tremain

This sequel revisits the rackety life of a 17th-century physician who can teach us new tricks

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
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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
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'