i Robert Burns, 1759 to 1796. Scottish Poet

Ah, Scotland’s favourite son.

Laura Mvula, Sing to the Moon (RCA)

Album review: Laura Mvula, Sing to the Moon (RCA)

While Laura Mvula deserves credit for blending her Caribbean heritage with her classical training, Sing to the Moon is far from the masterpiece some claim.

Tom Hodgkinson: The boys seem happiest surrounded by screens

What's wrong with children? However much you attempt to instill an anti-consumerist philosophy into them, they still hurl themselves unthinkingly at the latest fads, costing you an arm and a leg in the process.

Hearty dish: Mark's lamb pudding

Lamb pudding

Serves 4-6

Mark incorporates bergamot into his Earl of Sussex pudding

Earl of Sussex pudding

Serves 4-6

Bread sauce: Collect sandwich crusts in a plastic bag and store them in the freezer; when there is enough, whizz in a food processor and use to make bread sauce or keep for toppings

There's food for thought in the festive fridge: How to make a meal from Christmas leftovers

It pays to make a tasty meal out of leftovers

'Elf and Safety: the Twelve Myths of Christmas

Those festive sorts at the Government's Health and Safety watchdog, wearied presumably by annual comparisons to Dr Seuss's Grinch, have released their own guide to Christmas, debunking twelve myths about their work and its party-pooping nature.

Thawing of relationship between Fifa and FA

The Football Association and Fifa today moved to heal the rift between the organisations that developed after England's failed 2018 World Cup bid.

DmC Devil May Cry – Preview

With DmC we think Ninja Theory have created something to appease all but the most ardent of naysayers.

Album: The Eccentronic Research Council, 1612 Underture (Bird)

1612 Underture is an electronic concept album which uses the trial of the Pendle Witches in 17th century Lancashire as the focus for a meditation on the social divides that still grip the North or, as it's described here, "the home of hard-grafting bastards, where even the children have Vimto moustaches".

Terry Spinks

Further to Steve Bunce's obituary (28 April), I hadn't seen Terry Spinks for many years and I was pleasantly surprised when, sometime in the late 1990s he came into my pub, The Woodman, at Stanford Rivers, Essex, writes Eddie Johnson. He was having treatment at a hospital nearby and his devoted cousin Rosemary was taking him home for the weekend and they decided to have a drink (non-alcoholic) before continuing the journey to Chadwell Heath.

Book Of A Lifetime: Clarissa, By Samuel Richardson

No one evokes the feeling of being trapped like an 18th-century author. The smallness of the city, the difficulties of transport and communication as compared to now, meant that one obsession, one place, could take over your life. They say that Henry Fielding's 'Tom Jones' created earthquakes on its publication in 1749 – if so, then 'Clarissa' should have inspired a volcano. It is a novel simmering with anger.

Herding Cats, Hampstead Theatre, London

Lucinda Coxon's play may be set in the run-up to Christmas but don't go expecting feel-good Yule-tide fare.

'Leave the turkey on low': The chefs' compendium of Christmas tips, tricks and recipes

Just how long does it take to cook a turkey? Is it possible to make the humble sprout sing? And what's the best thing to do with all that leftover pudding? Our experts have the answers...

Emergency: more puddings please, Heston

It is the ultimate middle-class nightmare, and likely to cause mayhem in the aisles: Waitrose has sold out of its Heston Blumenthal's Hidden Orange Christmas puddings, forcing desperate customers to bid up to £150 for the desserts on eBay.

ABEL & COLE ORGANIC LUXURY CHRISTMAS PUDDING
<p>14/20</p>
<p>From the porcelain bowl plopped a 'rather splendid' pudding with a 'nice matt surface' in mid-tan brown. The tasting panel liked its 'firm texture' with 'plenty of fruit and nuts' and the pleasingly 'restrained sweetness'. 'It stays together and you can really taste the fruit.' Unfortunately, it was 'not very spicy' though the label lists mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg. The replacement of beef suet by palm oil (somewhere between 4-7 per cent) in this 'traditional pudding' makes it 'suitable for vegetarians'. £15.99 (600g)</p>

The pud, the bad and the ugly: 15 Christmas puddings are put to the taste test

It completes the Yuletide blow-out. But with so many Christmas puddings to choose from, Christopher Hirst sorts the stupendous from the stodge

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
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Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform