Tom Sutcliffe: This holy child needs a crib sheet

The Week In Culture

Album: Loudon Wainwright III, Recovery (Yep Roc)

We'd all like to go back to our twenties and do them again, wouldn't we? If you're a venerable musician you can do just that.

Last Night's TV: Bonekickers, BBC1; Imagine... BBC1

They need to dig a little deeper

The Complete Guide To: Puglia

Breathtaking coastlines, diverse architecture and Italy's most famous road all await you in the heel of Italy. James Hill reports

What should you look for in a school?

Ethos is a vital part of any education – and it's something you need to check out in person

Sikh protests stop Sotheby's auction of 'religious relic'

Sotheby's has withdrawn a rare 18th-century steel armour plate from public sale after protesters claimed it was a religious relic which may have been owned by one of Sikhism's holiest figures, Guru Gobind Singh.

Miles Kington Remembered: Archaeologists unearth relics from the age of ignorance

Two huge corporations, Pepsi and Coke, did nothing but sell fizzy brown flavoured water. Not only had the two products little obvious attraction they were almost identical

Curiosity And Enlightenment, by Arthur MacGregor

The world in a glass cabinet: how history was collected and put on display

At the Martian Museum art's outasight in outer space

What would an exhibition of earthly artworks curated by little green men look like? Visitors to the Barbican's Martian Museum are about to find out

Adios, Castro: Fidel is a relic of a vanished age and fossilised revolution

Just a few more months and it would have been 10. Fidel Castro had already seen off nine US presidents, and had he hung on until 20 January 2009, George Bush would have joined them.

The English Year: The nation's customs and festivals, from May Day to Mischief Night, By Steve Roud

The origins of our national festivals are both more and less arcane than we had imagined: Mother's Day is as much of an import as Hallowe'en. "Rough Music", the custom of raising hell beneath the windows of malefactors, may have represented mob rule, but at least it was aimed mainly at wife-beaters. Padstow's 'Obby 'Oss is well known, but, if the locals don't watch out, it faces a serious rival in "Darkie Day". This curious relic of the minstrel tradition, so the local MP claimed in 2006, is quite innocent, and the blacked-faces part of "mumming" have nothing to do with racism. A shame the "mummers" sing minstrel songs, then.

My First Job: Lisa Appignanesi, president of PEN, was a waitress in Paris

'I made coffee in an urn and added chicory'

La Traviata, Royal Opera House, London <br /> LSO/Gergiev, Barbican Hall, London

Overstuffed sets and buttressed costumes do their best to squeeze the life out of Verdi's doomed heroine, but it's worth fighting for a ticket for this Covent Garden revival just to see Anna Netrebko

Johann Hari: The devilish church practice of exorcism

Last year, I met a drawn, defeated 14-year old girl who had been possessed by Satan, until he and his Armies of Evil were tortured out of her.

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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