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Harriet Walker: I've ended up living like a deposed Royal

My life so far in a plaster cast reminds me of Sue Townsend's brilliant The Queen and I, a superb work of comic genius in which the Royal family are booted out of Buckingham Palace to live on a council estate by the newly elected Republican party.

Montserrat Figueras: Soprano celebrated for her mastery of pre-Baroque music

One evening in 1988 my girlfriend and I were driving home from work when one of the most exquisite sounds I had heard emerged from the car radio.

Early Music: A Very Short Introduction, By Thomas Forrest Kelly

A perfectly pitched audio guide

Album: Kaiser Chiefs, The Future is Medieval (Fiction)

With their fourth effort, Kaiser Chiefs are pioneering the music industry's latest attempt to revive the CD as a physical product: from a longlist of 20 songs on their website, you can choose your own tracklist and pick your own artwork.

The Forty Rules of Love, By Elif Shafak

Skittish and serious, satirical and otherworldly, Elif Shafak's fiction trips across the lines between the spirit and the flesh. Her latest novel, a chart-topper in her native Turkey, characteristically yokes together far-flung people, eras and events.

Medieval jewels found in garden

A trove of medieval jewellery and other precious objects found by an Austrian man working in his back garden includes pieces made for a royal court and could be worth as much as €100,000 (£69,000).

Your Highness (15)

Starring: James Franco, Danny McBride, Natalie Portman, Toby Jones

The Colosseum, By Keith Hopkins & Mary Beard

Though it is "the most famous, and instantly recognisable, monument to have survived from the classical world", the authors of this excellent history concede that the Colosseum can be disappointing. "Any visitor will almost certainly be amazed by the overpowering bulk of the outside walls," but inside "they are confronted by...a jumble of dilapidated stone and rubble."

Video: Putin: 'Air strikes are like crusades'

Russian PM gives his views on the air strikes in Libya, likening them to 'medieval calls for crusades.'

Ironclad (15)

The Magnificent Seven, in chainmail. Jonathan English's action movie takes history as its base metal – the siege of Rochester Castle by King John in 1215 – and forges it into the cold steel of Medieval derring-do. Once you get past sniggering at Paul Giamatti as John, it's a pretty enjoyable face-off between the king's mercenary army and a rag-tag band of patriots led by James Purefoy's self-denying Templar knight and Brian Cox's lusty Baron. The trimmings are standard-issue: full-throated Middle Ages cackling, gnarled peasant faces straight out of Brueghel and lots of ferocious hand-to-hand combat with pluming fountains of blood. But it's a persuasive portrayal of a violent era and its harsh privations.

The Fallen Blade, By Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Medieval mystery makes the cut

Original 14th-century King Arthur tale sells for £2.4m

An illuminated 14th-century manuscript containing what is believed to be the oldest surviving account of the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the round table was sold for £2.39m yesterday.

14th-century King Arthur manuscript sold for £2.4m

An illuminated 14th century manuscript containing what is believed to be the oldest surviving account of the legends of King Arthur sold today for more than £2 million.

Minor British Institutions: The Oddfellows

The people who call themselves oddfellows are members of various friendly societies, but not all friendly societies call themselves oddfellows.

Michael McCarthy: Why let the facts get in the way when your profits are at stake?

Watching a grown man in a powerful position display his ignorance is fascinating, almost like watching a car crash in slow motion; and so it is with Michael O'Leary on climate change.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Lake Garda
Lake Como
Bruges
Paris
Prices correct as of 28 November 2014
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game