Life and Style

Creators claim that  “the name ‘Coinye’ is intended solely as parody, not an indication or implication of endorsement or involvement"

Simon Kelner: Hospitality is just not the forte of the British

I was in Manchester last night, on an intensely private matter. Oh, all right, I was at a football match. Anyway, I was staying at the city centre hotel where I am a regular visitor. In the relatively short time I have patronised this establishment, it has changed names – and, I assume, ownership – three times, and in its latest incarnation it went from a hotel with a short, memorable name – just four letters – to one with a cumbersome, Americanised moniker – three words, 18 letters.

Berlin Stories, By Robert Walser

The third time proved charmed for Robert Walser (1878-1956). In 1905, after two initial attempts, the writer left Switzerland to settle in Berlin, where he would remain until 1913, joining his brother Karl, a painter. As it happens, Robert arrived right in the midst of Karl's annus mirabilis, which saw the elder Walser produce cover illustrations for bestsellers, as well as designing theatre sets for Max Reinhardt.

Alexander Armstrong, photographed at the Ivy Club, London WC2

Pedigree chum: Is Alexander Armstrong the poshest man in comedy?

More so than Miranda Hart, Stephen Fry and David Mitchell, Alexander Armstrong seems to be the acceptable face of posh comedy. With his comically large ears (a gift from his father), crinkly smile, affable demeanour and (crucially, perhaps) lack of smarty pants, he's the cuddly side of the upper classes in an age when, rather oppressively, toffs seem to be taking over again. Even Armstrong's overgrown Hooray Henry, 'Harry', in those adverts for Pimm's – alcopops for the privileged – is cherishable. Not that he drinks the stuff in public, he says, for fear of wags shouting, "It's Pimm's o'clock" – one of the great advertising campaigns, by the way, that helps explain some of Armstrong's wider appeal. The more you parody the posh, as the creatives at the advertising agency Mother realised, the more accessible they become to other groups.

Iranians, living with the threat of war and crippling sanctions, voted in parliamentary elections on Friday

Patrick Cockburn: Israel's threats of war are more potent than war itself

World View: Warnings of strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities are probably only bluff, but thanks to the US and widespread gullibility, they are proving effective

After withdrawing her application to Magdalen College Elly Nowell told the university not to try to ‘reapply'

Revenge – for everyone turned down by Oxbridge

Candidate turns the tables by sending Magdalen College a letter of rejection

Nick Mallett is his own man, with plenty of distance from the problems

James Lawton: An atmosphere of mutual disgust. A weak manager. Coaches held in contempt...

You knew it was bad, very bad indeed. You could see it in the leaden performance and mindless indiscipline on the field and the drunken, lemming self-destruction off it, but you couldn't quite know the extent of the failure, the inadequacy of the people involved, until the leaking this week of three official reports into England's World Cup disaster.

Armstrong's delayed strike derails Halifax

Halifax 16 Leigh 20

Bernstein Candide, Barbican Hall

Leonard Bernstein’s most bountiful score – a mouth-watering confection of sugar and spice and all things nice – is also a masterpiece of parody and counter-parody

Un peu de tendresse bordel de merde! Sadler's Wells, London

Is that a naked dancer on your lap, or are you just pleased to see me?

Film parodies that fail to raise a smile

A lamentable slew of recent spoof movies has done untold damage to a once proud – and hilarious – genre, says Ben Walsh

Perry Pontac: A man of infinite jest

Not many of us have heard of playwright Perry Pontac. More's the pity, says Alan Bennett – his Shakespeare spoofs, now in print, are perfect parodies

Feathers, glitter and nipple tassles: it’s burlesque

Christina Aguilera’s 'Burlesque' gives a cheeky peek into the dance sensation that's seen a resurgence in the last few years.

DVD: Rubber (15)

"Ladies and gentlemen, the film you're about to see is a homage to 'no reason'," explains Stephen Spinella's cop to camera at the start of this wonderfully deranged horror.

DVD: Black Dynamite, For rental & retail (Icon)

Streets ahead of Meet the Spartans, and the other dreadful efforts that pass for film parody these days, this beautifully realised blaxploitation homage gets every detail spot-on, and yet it's studded with so many perfectly timed jokes that you don't need to have seen a single blaxploitation film to fall about laughing.

On Tour (15)

Starring: Mathieu Amalric
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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 
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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

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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