Life and Style

Live-streams of meals can attract viewers of thousands night after night - with audiences donating enough money for the host to live on

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.

Tory MP Anne Main ordered to repay £7,100 after flat probe

A Conservative MP was ordered to repay £7,100 and apologise in writing today after a parliamentary investigation into her claims for second home allowances on a flat where her daughter was living.

My Week: Simon Fowler

The managing director of John Lewis's Peter Jones department store keeps staff and shoppers motivated during the busy Christmas season

Album: James Brown, Live at the Garden (Hip-O-Select)

Dating from 1967, Live at the Garden was one of James Brown's less auspicious releases, which is why it's taken so long to be reissued in this expanded format. In the first place, it wasn't actually recorded at Madison Square Garden, or even Kew, but at the Latin Casino, a New Jersey supper-club. To approximate the ambience of the larger venue, faked crowd noise was liberally ladled all over it, including a version of "Let Yourself Go" taken from an after-hours rehearsal. To squeeze the 150-minute show on to a 40-minute album, several of the best performances were either truncated or left off entirely, most notably a storming nine-minute version of "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag", which captures the Godfather on the cusp of his new funk sound, with Clyde Stubblefield and Jabo Starks's double-drum alliance locking into an ingenious syncopated propulsion of the kind that would, just a few weeks later, produce the seminal "Cold Sweat"; and an extended "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" – though the microphone placement on the strings is so bad they're left buried in the back of the mix. Both are restored on a second disc that also dispenses with the fake crowd noise, leaving one better able to track the lock-tight changes of rhythm, and appreciate the interlocking rhythm guitars of Chank Nolen.

Ski reps' days off raise concerns

At Monday's inquest into the death of skier Stephen Gladman, who fell into a snow hollow while skiing at the French resort of La Plagne in February 2007, it was said that on the day of the accident none of the resort employees of Thomson – the company with which Mr Gladman and his family had travelled – were working. Apparently, they had all taken the day off.

Tim Walker: 'Salad Club takes place in someone's living room and has its own etiquette'

The Couch Surfer: 'The washing up was being done in the bath. This was a delightful quirk rather than irritation'

Virginia Ironside’s Dilemmas: I want to visit my stepfather without getting abuse from his wife

Dear Virginia,

Every other afternoon, I visit my stepfather, who has terminal cancer. It helps to relieve his wife, who takes the dogs out, and does the shopping – and once a week I stay for supper. It gives me a chance to talk to my stepdad about the old days – he's the last connection I have with my family. But last time she hurled abuse at me, saying why should she be forced out into the rain whenever I came round and that she wasn't prepared to cook for me. I was so hurt. I was only trying to help. What can I do?

Yours sincerely, Caro

Can the Pope solve riddle of the Last Supper?

Vatican's designs on building annoy Israel

British businesses warned not to cut back on lunch and travel expenses

Nearly two-thirds of firms have now scrapped or reduced lunch allowances, according to a new survey.

Credit crisis diary: The bankers who sang for their supper

Yet more tales reach us concerning Sir Fred Goodwin's ultimately disastrous tenure at Royal Bank of Scotland. Sir Fred reputed to have been something of an authoritarian boss, apparently kept a karaoke machine at RBS's impressive head office on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Not because he enjoyed a sing-song himself, you understand – no, the idea was that getting top executives to belt out some tunes would hone their competitive instincts. What we now want to know is what was on Sir Fred's playlist? Simply Red's Money's too Tight to Mention, say?

Observations: Covent Garden chorus learn to sing for their supper

While the stars get the limelight, Covent Garden's unsung heroes are the chorus – 48 stalwarts who tread the boards night after night, rehearsing and performing for six long days each week. "It's a crazy life, but I love it," says tenor George Freeburn, who hopes to carry on until he retires at 65. Like many of his colleagues, he could have been a soloist, but life in these elite ranks is the summit of his ambition: this, he says, is the Manchester United of opera companies. But like all team work, this has its stresses, particularly since the arrival of chorus master Renato Balsadonna, a stickler for discipline whose ferocious technical demands have undeniably pushed up standards.

Love doctor: What's sex got to do with it?

Are love and sex inextricably linked? My dad was a love-and-sex man. At least I think he was. He certainly wasn't the kind of guy to say "phwooar!" (if that's how it's spelt). And he was never unfaithful to his partners. My mother, on the other hand, was a sex-without-love person. When they divorced, my father, on talking to the head of the Royal College of Art, where she worked, was asked by the principal how he could have stood all her affairs. "Oh, it wasn't affairs, it was only flirting," said my father. "Flirting?" replied the principal, his eyes bulging. "My dear man, your wife went to bed with everyone in the college, myself included!"

Pandora: Emily's no longer kissing for her supper

Nowadays Emily Mortimer prefers to try out for Hollywood blockbusters than trail the English drama circuit. And who can blame her? During one of the dainty actress's first major forays into British cinema, The 51st State, her audition merely required her to snog the Scottish actor Robert Carlyle.

'Spitting vicar' ordered to leave parish

A Church of England vicar accused of intimidating and spitting at parishioners was ordered to vacate his post by his bishop today.

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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
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
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick