Arts and Entertainment

There is a certain pleasure (however smug) in being ahead of the curve when spotting a particularly gifted writer, and a certain regret when the masses catch up with your discovery. The latter, of course, is the state desired by author and publisher, and Peter May has now made the transition from connoisseurs’ taste to popular bestseller.

Chris Haney: Co-creator of Trivial Pursuit

A 1979 game of Scrabble led Chris Haney, picture editor of the Montreal Gazette, and his friend Scott Abbott, a sports journalist with the Canadian Press news agency, to come up with their own board game. Trivial Pursuit, launched two years later, was described by Time magazine as "the biggest phenomenon in game history".

The Besnard Lakes, The Legion, London

The Besnard Lakes, a quartet fronted by a husband-and-wife songwriting duo, hail from the same musically fertile land of Montreal in Canada as Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, The Dears, and Stars. Like their peers, they boast an experimental and artful slant to their rock music. This is the last show in a short tour to promote their latest, third album, The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night, an intoxicating shoegazey set of tracks which immerse the listener in a heavy-reverb wall of sound reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, with the melodious harmonies of The Beach Boys.

A Brit on the side: Why American comic Bill Hicks felt most at home in the UK

Bill Hicks is a byword for acerbic brilliance in the UK – but he couldn't buy a laugh in his native America. On the eve of a new documentary about the maverick comedian, Peter Watts asks: what makes us love him so?

Union urges BA chairman to intervene in dispute

The chairman and board members of British Airways were tonight urged to "use their influence" in a bid to resolve the cabin crew dispute, which descended into a bitter war of words after a weekend of strike action.

Don't cut off aid, warns Haiti PM

Dispute over relief effort follows Italian criticism of 'pathetic' US coordination

Canadian folksinger Kate McGarrigle dies aged 63

Canadian folk singer and songwriter Kate McGarrigle, best known for performing with her sister Anna, has died of cancer. She was 63.

Best of '09: Just for Laughs

Julian Hall on the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. Plus: nominate your favourite cultural moments of 2009.

Yellow Bird Project: Harnessing indie power to help those in need

"Indie rock bands are leaking creativity. Why not harness their magical indie powers to help out those in need?" - so says the website of the Yellow Bird project, a Montreal-based charity whose offerings include sartorial items plucked from the imaginations of Broken Social Scene, Devendra Banhart and Of Montreal.

Cyclo-therapy: Unleashing thousands of bikes on terror vortexes like the Elephant and Castle could be, well, messy

I'm the cycle snob who looks down his nose at hapless riders and their rubbish bikes. But during a recent trip to Montreal I was the one eliciting scornful glances from local pedal pushers. Not because my bike was rubbish – it wasn't bad – but because, with my spidery limbs and hunched form, I looked like I'd ridden out of a Quentin Blake illustration.

Hit & Run: Land of the truly warm welcome

You can sort of see what the suits at the Danish tourist board were trying to achieve. They recruited a beautiful actress, created a bit of a story and sent their ad viral, saving big money on shoots and TV spots. But by suggesting Denmark is not only a land of plastic bricks and bacon, but also hot single girls wanting to go to bed with foreigners, its latest campaign has backfired in a big way.

The Disappeared, By Kim Echlin

A love that pulses in the killing fields

Laughing gas is biggest threat to ozone layer

It is no joke: laughing gas is now the biggest threat to the Earth's ozone layer, say scientists.

Professor Jerry Cohen: Maverick philosopher who subjected Marxism to the rigours of analytical philosophy

Proof of the catholicity and openness of British philosophy is that it could embrace and heap the highest of its academic honours upon a maverick such as Jerry Cohen.

Five hotels in newspaper buildings

Stop press: yesterday's newsroom is tomorrow's luxury bedroom
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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
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
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