i Robert Burns, 1759 to 1796. Scottish Poet

Ah, Scotland’s favourite son.

Auntie and Me, Wyndham's Theatre, London

Why don't you just drop dead?

Auntie and Me, Wyndham's Theatre, London

Grasping nephew leaves the last laugh to the wrinkly brigade

Sacred monsters of a church in crisis

Easter by Michael Arditti (Arcadia, £11.99, 390pp)

The Irritations of Modern Life: 74. men-only clubs

I HAVE often wondered what men do in all-male clubs. Million-pound deals? Homosexual rituals? Men, especially if they belong to the Garrick Club, are reticent, giving the impression that it involves little more than long lunches, at which they get slightly squiffy and eat nursery food. Yet, as soon as someone proposes changing the law to force such clubs to admit women, it is as if the very foundations of civilisation had begun to shudder.

Christmas food special: Stuffing Christmas

No matter how efficient and organised you are, tradition dictates that Christmas dinner can be a disaster of Santa Clausian proportions, says Terry Durack

Why worry? Superficiality is only skin-deep

The Trader; A lot of these City boys like their women a bit neurotic. It makes them feel better about themselves

Schools chief says Puttnam is `silly'

THE EMBATTLED chief inspector of schools, Chris Woodhead, was embroiled in a fresh row over his performance yesterday after Lord Puttnam accused him of damaging teacher recruitment by leading a "permanent regime of intimidation and terror".

The Joys Of Modern Life: 42. Airline food

THE METAL trolley rattles into the aisle. It must be at least 20 rows away, but already a Mexican wave of descending tray tables is rippling its way back towards you. The tantalising smell of hot food seems to fill the air as the cabin staff move with agonising slowness in your direction. If it weren't for the lack of leg room, you'd be on the edge of your seat with excitement. It can only mean one thing: you're about to get an airline meal.

Restaurants: It's only rock'n'roll but I like it

The interior of Manchester's Reform restaurant is pure decadence. Shame, then, that the food is a bit hit and miss. Photographs by Ged Murray

Words: medley, n.

IN ANGLESEY I once asked a waitress what the "mixed vegetables" were. She said, "They're mixed vegetables", and I still puzzle; and boggle at the Brighton restaurant Peppers' "medley of vegetables". This is pithily defined by Johnson as "a mingled mass. It is commonly used with some degree of contempt." (Restraint itself compared with one's seeing that Harvester describes a pudding as "playfully stabbed with walnuts".)

The flavour of Britain

The flavour of Britain

Eating Out: Your usual table? Who eats where Lesley Glaister, author

My favourite food is my own lentil stew with caraway dumplings, eaten in huge amounts while curled up on the sofa. And when I'm sad the only thing that will do is Heinz tomato soup - the cheerful speckled orange is just so comforting and right. But I do love eating out - as long as it's nowhere stiff and pretentious. Across the road from me in Sheffield is a cafe-restaurant called Nonna's (539-541 Ecclesall Road, 0114 2686116). I often meet my friends there for lunch because it's so cheerful and bustly. They serve plates of crostini and bruschetta misti, topped with different nibbly delights, which are perfect for sharing during confidences and gossip. In the evening the food is also sublime. The best starter I've ever experienced is their tonno carpaccio - wafer-thin tuna marinated in lemon to create the most delicate melt-in-the mouth appetite sharpener. When I first had it, my partner and I hardly spoke for fear of wasting a moment of taste-experience.
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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
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
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there