News

A liver transplant patient turned up to her operation appointment at a German hospital with a bottle of vodka in her bag, a court has heard.

Psy has admitted to drinking a lot of vodka

Psy: Vodka is my best friend and vice partner

Psy’s YouTube channel might have hit its three billionth view earlier this month, but the king of Korean pop is not immune to the pressures of fame despite his success. He has admitted in a candid interview that vodka is his “best friend”.

UK bars are increasingly joining the Russian vodka boycott

No equal rights, no vodka nights: gay clubs boycott Russian imports

Popular British gay bars and nightclubs have joined a global boycott of Russian vodka brands following allegations of human rights abuses by Vladimir Putin’s government.

LGBT campaigners boycott vodka in protest at Russian gay rights abuses - even though their main target isn't made in Russia

Dump Russian Vodka campaign spawns #DumpStoli hashtag even though Stolichnaya made in Latvia by a company based in Luxembourg

Bottles of Smirnoff Ice were used to toast the nuptials of Verity Evetts and Christopher Buchanan

First the speeches. Then the Smirnoff Ice at high society wedding

It is more often associated with a teenager’s first curious sips of alcohol or as a sugary lubricant at school discos up and down the country, so Smirnoff Ice’s presence at a high society wedding at the weekend was a curious one.

CCTV still shows Tia Sharp and Stuart Hazell on the bus on the afternoon before her murder

Final images of Tia Sharp – out shopping with the man accused of killing her

The last images of murdered schoolgirl Tia Sharp alive were shown to a jury today, as they heard how she “idolised” her alleged killer.

The 5 Polish phrases every Briton needs

The latest figures from the 2011 census reveal Polish has overtaken Punjabi as England's second language. 546,000 citizens now cite Polish as their native tongue, a rise which can be attributed to the influx of Polish immigrants following the expansion of the EU in 2004. (If this seems a small number, it should be noted many second generation immigrants speak Polish, Punjabi or another language as a second language after English.)

As well as an interesting insight into modern Britain, it seems a perfect opportunity to brush up on our Polish. So here are some phrases you might like to try out during your next trip to the local Polski Sklep...

UPDATE: We thought we could get away with using Google Translate. We were wrong. Lots of very kind (and clever) Polish-speaking readers of Independent Voices wrote in to provide us with superior translations which have now been included below. Dziękuję!

Back to black: Amy Winehouse in 2007

Amy Winehouse inquest set to be reheard

The inquest into the death of 27-year-old singer Amy Winehouse is set to be reheard following the resignation of the coroner in charge, according to a spokesman for Camden Council.

An aerial view of the Coq d’Argent

Victim of Facebook stalker leapt to her death from rooftop restaurant

Rema Begum became distressed after her lifestyle was exposed to her Muslim parents

Rare hiccup for Diageo as it fails to swallow Jose Cuervo

Drinks giant Diageo has proved its acquisition strategy is not invincible by calling time on its bid to buy Mexico’s Jose Cuervo tequila brand, bringing to an end year-long talks.

Bargain Hunter: Our code can be a Vintage cash saver

The online boutique It's Vintage Darling has a wide range of original and vintage-inspired clothes and accessories from the 1900s to the 1990s – and Independent readers can get 20 per cent off using an exclusive Bargain Hunter code. That cuts the price of the top-selling, 1930s-style Art Deco shell clutch bag (pictured) from £45 to £34. Simply use the discount code VINTAGE20 when shopping at itsvintagedarling.com

Oysters Mary

Serves 4-6

Team GB high jumper Robbie Grabarz

Team GB's high jumper Robbie Grabarz reveals the secret to his success: 'being lazy'

High jumper Robbie Grabarz has said that the key to his success has been sleep and the odd shot of vodka.

1. Belvedere Unfiltered
£43.99, thedrinkshop.com
It divides drinkers, Belvedere - some find it too subtle. But there is much to like in this diamond rye vodka which doesn't go through a final filtration.

The 10 Best vodkas

Whether you’re fixing yourself a strong martini or simply serving it over ice with lime, we’ve got the pure spirit for the job...

Five Wives vodka 'offends Mormons'

If drinkers in Idaho fancy having Five Wives, they will now have to go elsewhere: regulators in the state have banned the sale of the humorously titled vodka after deeming it offensive to Mormons.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
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Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
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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
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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
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'