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Robert le diable, Royal Opera House, London

Every show has a back-story, but this is more convoluted than most. With its Gothic effects – including a saucy ballet for ghostly nuns - and with its massive orchestral, vocal, and choreographic forces, Meyerbeer’s ‘Robert le diable’ quickly became the most popular opera in Europe after its 1831 premiere, yet this is its first London production since 1890.

The 10 Best umbrellas

With winter rains on the way, now is the time to invest in these wet-weather shields that will keep the damp away in style

Berberian Sound Studio (15)

The sound expert has had a rough time of it in the movies. Think of Gene Hackman's professional eavesdropper in The Conversation, stripping down his room – and his life – to a sad shell. Or of John Travolta's sound-effects guy in Blow Out, stumbling on a Chappaquiddick-style conspiracy and thereby sending a loved one to her doom.

Teenager, 15, murdered 'for being a witch'

A domineering football coach and his long-term girlfriend were found guilty yesterday of torturing a teenage family member to death because they believed he was a witch.

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To health, prosperity and settled hearts! Raising a glass to the

Fans of A Christmas Carol will recall that the story ends with a slap-up dinner at the Cratchit household, a half-circle around the hearth and the salutation: "God bless us every one!" from the crippled-but-plucky Tiny Tim. Modern-day parishioners of the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, know that his usual Christmas card salutation is "Health, prosperity and settled hearts." In Scotland, every household on New Year's Eve promises to "take a cup of kindness yet" in memory of long ago.