Travel

My stomach has endured the full scope of awful foods this planet has to offer Trying adventurous food is a big part of travelling, but India, where I'm travelling through now, has more problems with [food] hygiene than anywhere else in the world. It's a cultural problem, as eating meat is a rarity in rural areas, so they treat it like a vegetable, keeping it in a cupboard. So when the occasional Westerner passes through, by the time it's pulled out, it's been in there for a few months. When travelling across poorer parts of India now, I try to survive off rice and dahl.

Benteke celebrates his goal for Aston Villa
Dale Steyn took six wickets for eight runs in eight overs last week

The Last Word: Savour Steyn, the virile throwback to a hostile age

Seldom has such speed been hitched to such accuracy – or such ferocity

Paul Gascoigne, who used to be the toast of a nation, needs a counsellor more than a dentist

Oh how we chuckled indulgently at this great footballer's high jinks years ago. Now he desperately needs expert help if his story isn't to have a terrible ending

Ambergris from whales is quite rare

£100,000 for whale vomit? That’s sick

Why is ambergris worth so much money? Simon Usborne holds his nose and finds out

What you can learn at X Factor school

Mickey Mouse degree? Nah, I'm taking the X Factor

Grace Dent on TV: Mrs Brown's Boys, BBC1

Irritating relatives, terrible jokes, mindless banter: the perfect accompaniment to a family Christmas

Robert Green reacts after putting the ball into his own net

Djibril Cisse slams decision making of Chris Foy

Controversial decisions were made in QPR's defeat to West Brom

2012 breakthroughs: Curiosity rover landing system

Scientific breakthroughs: From bone fragments to Higgs boson, the tiny finds with huge consequences

Winners of this year’s best breakthroughs revealed

Burberry Prorsum a/w12

He wore blue velvet

The most tactile of fabrics comes into its own for the party season – just be sure to avoid cheap imitations, says Lee Holmes

Portrait of a Lady: the life and passions of Lady Barber, Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham

This is one of those good/bad exhibitions – good in so far as it tells us an interesting story about the foundation of an important institute of fine arts in Birmingham eighty years ago within the precincts of the university; bad in so far as a fair number of the works on display here – notably the paintings of Lady Barber herself - are of an indifferent quality. Not the lace and the tapestries though.

Bupa in £244m dental deal in Australia

The private healthcare group Bupa has agreed to take over Australia and New Zealand's largest dentistry chain for £244m.

<p>1. Lakeland</p>
<p>£19.99 for one, lakeland.co.uk</p>
<p>This is vast. It has two party wigs, funny noses, teeth, moustaches, glasses, eye patches, paper hats, jokes, charade cards and balloons.</p>

The 10 Best Christmas crackers

Make sure your crackers don’t put a dampener on your festive feast by picking up one of these sparkling sets

Oscar Niemeyer

Further to the obituary of Oscar Niemeyer by Jay Merrick (7 December), I saw a number of his earlier buildings in 1953, when I was in Brazil with an oil company. I was overwhelmed by his "shock of the new", in Merrick's words. His break from convention was breathtaking. The Department of Education building in Rio was built in the 1930s, before air conditoning. With Rio's high temperatures and high humidity, the conventional approach was a veranda on the ground floor, with mini roofs over the windows on the floors above. This cools the air, but darkens the inside, so that electric light sometimes had to be employed during the hours of daylight.

Peter Crouch (L) of Stoke City celebrates scoring his second goal with Michael Kightly (R)

Stoke hopeful Peter Crouch will be fit for Aston Villa meeting

Premier League team news

All the wrong moves: Radio 1 DJ Vernon Kay

The Week In Radio: Vernon Kay is Strictly out of step with this dancing debacle

"It’s saturday morning and it’s just gone 10 o’clock,” bellowed Vernon Kay. “and we are here! We are here! We are live!” Where, Vernon? I bellowed back from my kitchen.

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These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

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