Arts and Entertainment Dai & The Ramblers, Duw Duw

Duw Duw, Just Peachy Records

Tom Hodgkinson: 'Do women consider the ukulele sexy?'

Twitter is a terrible distraction for writers and journalists. The deadline is hanging over you and all you can do is waste time scrolling through hundreds of unsatisfying attempts at aphoristic wit.

Sounds Venezuela, Southbank Centre, London

Classical music has never enjoyed a more successful a marketing campaign than that promoting Gustavo Dudamel, the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra, and the proliferation of Jose Antonio Abreu’s visionary Sistema.

Mandela Trilogy, Cape Town Opera, Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Since its foundation in 1999, Cape Town Opera has heroically fostered the growth of opera in South Africa, while spreading the word internationally about the wonderful voices which thrive in that country’s soil. And its close connection with the Wales Millennium Centre made this the perfect venue for the European premiere of Michael Williams’s biographical ‘Mandela Trilogy’.

Album: Wadada Leo Smith, Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform)

This is really something. Veteran trumpeter Smith has been writing music about the civil-rights struggle since a tribute to Medger Evers 35 years ago.

The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild, By Hannah Rothschild

A tantalising portrait of a British society beauty who became the ‘crazy friend’ of Thelonious Monk

James Moore: South African siren song is just as discordant

Outlook Remember the vuvuzela? The sound of thousands of those one-note plastic trumpets being blown together became a feature of the last football World Cup and drove millions of English fans to distraction.

Imelda May, Royal Albert Hall, London

“He’s a big bad boy,” lustily croons six-months pregnant Imelda May on “Johnny’s Got a Boom Boom”, the saucy rockabilly song that catapulted the singer to instant fame.

Album: Mozart/Strauss/Lanner, Walzer Revolution – Concensus Musicus Wien/Harnoncourt (Sony)

Nikolaus Harnoncourt and CMW offer a history of the waltz and other dances in music from Mozart to Johann Strauss and his contemporary Joseph Lanner.

Former Libertines front man, Pete Doherty

Who lives in a house like this? An unlikely INXS fan

Who lives in a house like this? There's dirty laundry all over the floor, piles of records strewn around, life drawings hanging in the bathroom and war medals displayed on the walls. Why, it's Pete Doherty, of course, the free-spirited scamp. In a video recorded for NME's website, the 33-year-old musician gives viewers a tour of his cramped Paris apartment.

Dollars & Cents: Thom Yorke from the pricey-to-watch Radiohead

How jazz secretly invaded pop music

Listen with Spotify

Album: M. Ward, A Wasteland Companion (Bella Union)

With his natural warmth and gentleness allied to a refreshingly non-dogmatic take on retro musical styles, M. Ward is one of the more engaging Americana artists around today.

Diagrams, Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen

Sam Genders, founder and former frontman of folktronica act Tunng, went in a more glinting electro-pop direction on his warmly received Diagrams debut record, Black Light, which came out in January.

David Cameron and Barack Obama in London in May last year

Afghanistan top of the agenda for Cameron's trip to Washington

US visit set to start with agreement to end lead role in conflict – but more divisive issues lie ahead

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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
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
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