Arts and Entertainment

Literary prescriptions for modern ailments

Picture of the Day: The bride wore snakeskin

Hundreds of villagers flocked to a wedding ceremony yesterday between a 16-foot female python and her slightly smaller mate – both believed to be magic snakes that bring prosperity and peace.

Minor British Institutions: New Year's Day

Apologies if your head, like mine, is feeling a little tender, but New Year's Day is a slightly complex Minor British Institution. Anciently, the New Year began with the Spring equinox in March (which explains September, the seventh month, October, the eighth, etc).

On the road: Festivities go off with a bang in the shadow of Vesuvius

It's Christmas Eve in Napoli and the rush is on to get ready for the main family feast. In the shadow of brooding Vesuvius, the sacred and profane overflow in a city both blessed and cursed by nature. Fatalism and ancient superstitions run alongside Christian mores. Via San Gregorio Armeno, home of the presepe (nativity-scene) craftsmen, twinkles with rustic tableaux teeming with wise men, shepherds, hams...

Unholy Awakening, By Michael Gregorio

Prussian bloodsucker has real bite

An ungodly row: Dawkins sues his disciple

Evolutionist's charity accuses protégé of stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds

Nevin's Notes

Doomy times for the Royal Navy: powder running low; sails flapping; and old sea dogs stirring, waiting for the beat of Drake's Drum.

Cambridge to Ely: Not a hill in sight – that's what I call cycling

Joanne O'Connor gets pedalling along The Lodes Way, the National Trust's new cross-country route between Cambridge and Ely

Ian Holloway: This is biggest game of my life. The plan? Squash them!

We have got a nice, easy day today – Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. I still have to stop and pinch myself when I think about it.

Last Night's TV: Greatest Cities of the World with Griff Rhys Jones, ITV1<br />Autism, Disco and Me, BBC3<br />Outnumbered, BBC1

Right. So. Last night's television. No, not the election coverage – you'll find that in news. The other stuff: the soft stuff, you know. I've spent the past three weeks writing reviews of programmes that hardly anyone watched (clashing as they did with the election debates and then, last week, one debate and two football semi-finals). And now I'm reviewing stuff that virtually no one watched. Still, you were one of the select few that did, congratulations: far better to cast your ballot, go to bed at a sensible hour, and remain blissfully unaware of one's fate until the morning. Or, depending on how hung things turn out to be, in a few mornings' time. Either way, with matters of state on one's mind, what one needs is some light relief, isn't it? Or, even better, an escape plan just in case someone you really can't bear winds up at No 10. In which case, I'd suggest Hong Kong. It looked great in last night's episode of Greatest Cities of the World.

Macbeth, Shakespeare's Globe, London

The play hasn't started and you're already saying, with Marlowe's Mephistopheles, "Why this is hell, nor am I out of it." The smoke is billowing, the bells are tolling, the bagpipes are wailing and, down below in the pit, the heads of the groundlings are peeking through a black tarpaulin like the lost souls on Judgment Day.

Leading article: Hearts of oak

The oak, along with the rose, is one of the great symbols of England. Reports that they face decimation as a result of a bacterial condition called Acute Oak Decline, or AOD, which makes the trees bleed to death, therefore, are bound to prompt comparisons, however illogical, in the minds of some, with the state of the country itself.

May Day: Ushering in summer with bells, flowers and dancing

For those of you who think May Day is a distress signal, May 1st is a marvellously hotchpotch day of festivities which combines traditions and superstitions from Paganism, Gaelic, Christianity and even chimney sweeps.

Leading article: That sinking feeling

It might sound morbid to some that the menus from the Titanic should have been compiled into a book, including those from the infamous evening of 14 April 1912, when it really was last orders all round.

A tale of two wars, and their youngest victims

In the week that the death toll in Afghanistan surpassed the 255 fatalities in the Falklands, Terri Judd tells the story of two teenagers whose sacrifice belied their youth

Zardari sacrifices goats to 'ward off evil'

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has a black goat slaughtered at his house almost every day to ward off "evil eyes" and protect him from "black magic", it emerged yesterday.

News
Mickey Rourke celebrates his victory against opponent Elliot Seymour
people
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
people
News
Johnny Handle, Northumberland, Ted Relph, President of Lakeland Dialect Society, and Sid Calderbank, Lancashire, founder of the National Dialect Day
newsMeet the enthusiasts determined to stop them dying out
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
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Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Lake Garda
Lake Como
Bruges
Paris
Prices correct as of 28 November 2014
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game