Voices

Like many men, I am a lazy, good-for-nothing, selfish, forgetful, patronising, sex-obsessed bastard who drinks too much. Or so my wife points out. It's strange that I have ended up like this. I tried not to. I really did.

David Flatman: OK, no Grewcocks. But don't write off this relentless pack

Botha and Palmer make this a difficult team to beat, let alone smash
‘Rienzi’ was Hitler’s favourite opera

Opera to mark Hitler's birthday met with chorus of disapproval

Berlin opera house forced to reschedule Wagner work that inspired Nazi leader

Political giant: Fraga, seated, is applauded by his parliamentary colleagues in a tribute in 2008

Manuel Fraga: Politician who survived Spain's post-Franco transition to democracy

For more than 60 years, Manuel Fraga was a giant of Spanish politics who started out as a high-profile figure in the second period of Franco's regime and then made an opportunistic transformation in the post-Franco political arena.

Tom Hodgkinson: 'We took a TV home. I admit I am weak'

The television is back. Five years ago, in a fit of anti-capitalist pique, I unplugged this instrument of Beezlebub. I decided that I didn't want all its horrors flooding into the family home. I didn't want The X-Factor, CBeebies, Dick and Dom, the Ten O'Clock News or the dreary gloom of EastEnders. Mr Murdoch and his evil ways could stay out of my house for ever. Like Plato, I decided to banish the playwrights and their portrayal of negative character traits from my ideal Republic. My children would grow up unsullied by the false promises of consumerism. Instead, they'd learn useful skills, carpentry and violin.

Album: Various artists, East of Underground: Hell Below (Now Again)

More historical curiosity than essential listening, EOU gathers four acts (East of Underground, Soap, The Black Seeds, and the Sound Trek) made up of US draftees stationed in Germany as the Vietnam War fizzled to an end.

British voice behind a call to arms for Somalia's Islamic terrorists

Video reports of al-Shabaab battles with Somali forces feature jihadist with London accent

Turkey hits back over French bill

Turkey has retaliated against France after MPs there passed a bill to make it a crime to deny the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 by Ottoman Turks amounted to genocide.

Supreme Leader: Kim inspects his troops in Pyongyang

Kim Jong-Il: Leader of North Korea who deepened the cult of personality in his country following the death of his father

It is one measure of the cult of secrecy surrounding North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il that his demise was rumoured long before he actually died yesterday. One professor at Tokyo's prestigious Waseda University argued in a best-selling book that the "Dear Leader" had succumbed to diabetes in 2003 and had been replaced by several doubles. "Common sense cannot take the measure of North Korea's uniqueness," wrote Toshimitsu Shigemura in The True Character of Kim Jong-il.

Sir David Jack

Further to your obituary of Sir David Jack (9 December), Fifers are famous for dogged determination, writes Tam Dalyell.

Oscar the Grouch: This social deviant resides in a rubbish bin and was reportedly a participant in the leftie-organised 'Occupy Sesame Street' protest

Red and green and watched all over: Fox accuses Kermit the communist

Programme host on Murdoch-owned news network accuses 'liberal Hollywood' of bias

Letters: The fuss over Gaddafi's killing is rank hypocrisy

The British media fuss over the manner of Gaddafi's death is hypocrisy of the rankest kind, tinged with racist colonial superiority. When the Americans chucked Bin Laden out of a plane into the sea, perhaps for fear his grave would become a martyr's shrine, they murdered an unarmed man, something they then lied about. But who could blame them? No one in the media, as I recall.

Xerxes, Britten Theatre, London The Fairy Queen, Britten Theatre, London Takács Quartet, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

English Touring Opera's dazzling romance, set during the Second World War, is sexy and stylish

Enough of prime ministers sipping in the sun

While we're on the subject of holidays, I have a novel idea. Pictures of politicians on holiday should be banned from publication. Whether they're in tabloids, broadsheets, magazines – hell, let's ban them from television too. OK, that may be a touch harsh. How about this: the pictures should be banned unless the specific purpose of the articles they accompany is to puncture the completely disingenuous portraits of bliss they otherwise depict.

Leading article: A massacre born from a poisonous mindset

A picture of almost unbearable horror has emerged from Norway. Reports of the systematic murder of young activists on the tiny island of Utoeya, lured to their death by a man dressed in a police officer's uniform, are as harrowing as those that followed the 1996 Dunblane massacre here in Britain.

Invisible Ink: No 81 - Harry Hodge

In the modern age of phone-tapping and the super-injunction, one wonders what Harry Hodge would have said about the right to privacy.

Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
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News
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Travel
Suite dreams: the JW Marriott in Venice
travelChic new hotels in 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
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Day In a Page

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
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
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