David Cameron and Al Murray are ‘distant cousins’ family records show

David Cameron and Al Murray are ‘distant cousins’ family records show

The pair are related, equally randomly, through 19th century Vanity Fair writer William Thackeray

Arifa Akbar: An author who is writing his best work from beyond the grave

Some great authors have published their worst works from beyond the grave. A few though, keep getting better when they’re dead, such as the Chilean novelist and short story writer, Roberto Bolaño. His seminal five-part novel, 2666, came out posthumously, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and convinced the world he was not just a master of the short form but could put out his life’s best work at nearly 900 pages, even after death.

Reduced Shakespeare Company banned: Unionist council smites Bible comedy

A light-hearted play about Christianity written almost 20 years ago is at the centre of an “astonishing” censorship row after performances were cancelled by councillors in Northern Ireland who deemed it “blasphemous”.

Postcard from... New York

Book reviews: Poetry round-up

Poets have traditionally written to tempt coy mistresses into bed, and Marvell duly turns up inside the covers of The Poetry of Sex (Viking £14.99). Published in time for Valentine’s Day, this anthology features a huge “X” on its cover. Is there such a thing as raunchy poetry? Does the editor Sophie Hannah want us to admire the enjambment or heat- up so much that, like Dante’s Paolo and Francesca, we tremblingly push the book aside and “read no more that day”?

Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War by Robert M Gates - book review

There’s a perfect piece of Washington DC anthropology by the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S Truman, that should be carefully tucked into the back pocket of US political correspondents and pulled out when crises, such as placing too much faith in the White House, arise unexpectedly.

Arthur Scargill at a public meeting in London on the 25th anniversary of the miners' strike in 2009

Former NUM leader Arthur Scargill 'tried to buy London flat under Margaret Thatcher's right-to-buy scheme'

Miners' union general secretary Chris Kitchen: 'Unfortunately the perception I had of Arthur the great trade unionist, socialist, just is nothing like the reality as to the man that I know now'

Book review: 'Boxer Handsome' by Anna Whitwham

This promising debut novel about boxing shows both its violence and its value

Emma Thompson arriving for the National Board of Review Awards in New York

Emma Thompson fancies playing Sherlock Holmes: Actor in favour of gender-blind casting

The actor Emma Thompson has spoken out this week in favour of gender-blind casting, admitting her particular desire to play the role of Sherlock Holmes.

Acts of Union and Disunion, By Linda Colley: Book review - a lively analysis that disentangles the false unities from the real disunities

I first met Professor Linda Colley in 10 Downing St, during those heady days after Blair's first election victory. Cherie Blair had invited the historian to deliver a pre-buffet lecture on Britishness. Exhilarating and erudite, the talk turned into a subtle critique of Cool Britannia, the daft "rebranded" national identity marketed by New Labour.

A motorist navigates past a fallen tree after weather 'chaos' in north Antrim

Errors and Omissions: Plunged into chaos by journalistic exaggeration

The Independent's letters editor and chief pedant spots this week's best howlers

Man arrested after body found in Stafford on Christmas morning

The body of an elderly man was found in the road in the early hours of Christmas Day

Passion for Life is described as the ‘ultimate illustrated guide to the technicolour life of a British icon’

Joan Collins’ scrapbook and killer quotes: the best cinema books for Christmas

In Rosebud Sleds And Horses’ Heads (Intellect, £9.95) Scott Jordan Harris explores film’s most evocative objects. The text is pithy, but the items feel random. You could argue that 2001’s totem is the gleaming red eye of HAL 9000 rather than the Monolith, or that Marty McFly’s DeLorean, or even his pants, are more key to Back To The Future than his hoverboard.

Panto debut: Jo Brand (fourth left) is a genie in Aladdin

Panto is one of our great theatrical traditions – oh yes it is!

It’s behind you!” If those words elicit a groan, then bah humbug to you. You may hate pantomime but I’m honing my heckles in preparation to see several shows around the country.

Arts and Entertainment
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Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
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The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
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Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
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3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
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The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
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peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
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The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution