Arts and Entertainment

Given our national obsession with property prices, Tim Walker’s novel is bound to hit a nerve. His fictional couple, the Manvilles, bought their large north London home at a knock-down price in the 1990s, and it became the key to two aspects of their family life. Jerry, a successful advertising executive, undertook all the original plumbing, electrical and redecoration work; Pen devised a series of popular children’s books, The House on the Hill, whose “cheeky brat with the ridiculous schemes” is modelled on, and named after, her real-life son Conrad: 15 years on, they have done a loft conversion, and divorced.

Farmer 'drove tractor over wife's head'

A farmer who drove his tractor over his postmistress wife's head told medics he had killed her, a court heard today.

Tomorrow's world today: How far are we from the invisibility cloak?

Invisibility cloaks are set to become a reality. So where are our X-ray specs and rocket boots, asks Rhodri Marsden

One still in hospital after Scout bus crash

One of 10 British Scouts injured in a head-on crash in Canada remains in hospital, a spokesman for The Scout Association said today.

Evil under the sun: The dark side of the Pitcairn Island

In 2004, the tiny Pacific island of Pitcairn was torn apart when seven men were put on trial for sexually abusing children. In her gripping new book, Kathy Marks, who covered the story for The Independent, describes life in a shattered, shocked – and defiant – community

Earth Machine Music / Pohjonen, Manor Farm, Cocking

Four English farms were the venues and inspiration for Kimmo Pohjonen's UK tour. The oddball Finnish accordionist visited them earlier to sample sounds of animals and, particularly, machinery. Having settled on performing spaces, he retreated to turn the sounds into musical ideas, then returned with a sound crew and four site-specific mixtures of composition, improvisation, collage and live transformation, which he described as "environmental art" pieces.

Paperback: Two Caravans, by Marina Lewycka

As the follow-up to her bestseller A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian, this second novel could have been tricky, but Lewycka has plenty more tricks to pull out of the bag. With a cacophony of spot-on international voices, a plot that drags its motley cast around the more shameful aspects of modern England, a Russian gangster, strawberries and a dog, this warm, funny novel had to be a winner. Immigration with a sense of humour: a breath of fresh air.

Album: Nieuw ensemble, Ed Spanjaard, Mauricio Kagel: Kantrimiusik (Winter & Winter)

Mauricio Kagel, who died last year, was perhaps the most irreverently playful of modern avant-garde composers.

The Weasel: The ultimate boy's toy

Are you racking the noggin for an answer to the perennial problem of what to buy the man in your life for Christmas? Well, rack no longer. The object on the table before me will get the testosterone surging in any gent. The sleek shape of its motorhead owes somethin to Raymond Loewy’s streamlined design for the 1938 Broadway Limited loco. Its double row of cooling vents is like the radiator grill of an early John Deere tractor. Its raked motorhead support column suggests the soaring tailfin of a ’59 Caddy. In short, it is the ultimate boy’s toy.



Neil Warnock: 'Sharon and I were hugging and screaming for ages, as you do at 57'

The Sheffield United manager will use a breathalyser in training today after a day of torment as his team reached the Premiership

Germany special: Spooky travels at Playmobil Fun Park

Playmobil men are three inches high, right? Wrong, says Adrian Mourby, who with his son found they could be, well, almost human

Golfing Special: The game in Spain

Homes on Spanish golf courses, once the preserve of pensioners, are attracting younger Brits. Zoe Dare Hall reports
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Day In a Page

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
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?