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.

Kermit: A mere glimpse of any (colour) portrait of the Muppets' leader proves he is a subversive 'green', committed to ending the oil industry - and Jeremy Clarkson's career

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.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future