Voices

On a recent trip to Paris, I noticed that the French are really quite tardy about taking down their Christmas decorations. I can't speak for the private homes of individuals, but in the streets, there they were, twinkling on against January's grey skies.

Bad weather prompts crisis meeting over power cuts

Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, was due to chair a meeting of the Government’s crisis committee Cobra in response to the bad weather and power cuts.

Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas, BBC2 - TV review

An opportunity to feel satisfied with your festive lot was provided by Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas, a seasonal special of BBC2's living history series, which gave us the lowdown on how a Tudor farmstead would have celebrated. On the one hand, they did get a whole 12 days off work – the luxury! – for a festive period which began on 25 December and extended well into January. On the other hand, the partying was preceded by Advent's four weeks of fasting and back-breaking toil.

The mild weather has been blamed for poor clothes sales at the retailer

Debenhams warns on profit after poor Christmas trading

Shares dive by 12 per cent amid warning of tough festive season on high street

Market Report: Debenhams' profit warning spooks markets enough to drag competitors down with them

By the time traders headed off after just four hours of trading to start celebrating – or commiserating – the end of an exciting year for stocks, the retail sector was already nursing sore heads thanks to Debenhams.

No Christmas cheer for Debenhams as sales plunge

Shares decline as much as 13% as investors react to the trading update

March 24, 2013: A person walks past a snow drift on the Cushendall Road as wintry weather continues to cause havoc across the United Kingdom, in the Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Ten things I won't be giving up in 2014

Wouldn't Christmas be better if it came around once every four years?

1 January 2014: Google Doodle celebrates the New Year with animation of numbers dancing as 2013 is relegated to a dark corner

Happy New Year: Google rings in 2014 with animated Doodle

Search giant rings in the New Year with dancing cartoon of numbers

Northern Ireland negotiations move closer to agreement

Negotiations over the issues of historical killings, parades and flags were “80 to 90 per cent” completed, the Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said on Sunday.

Vicious (ITV) - TV review

Old luvvies act with gay abandon  in a classic festive sitcom

Ben Ainslie: The Olympics' most successful sailor on tactics, flying and his split personality

Calling sailing elitist is a misconception Of course all sports at the highest level are expensive to compete; it costs a fortune to win the Tour de France. But in terms of grass-roots level, it's relatively inexpensive; you don't need your own dinghy, and at my local club in Lymington, local school pupils can sail for a fiver – that's comparable to any other sport.

Snowden's web-centric life brings him into alignment with those Luddites who assume the worst of any innovation

Edward Snowden and the Queen go rather well together

The Christmas messages of the whistleblower and the monarch dovetail nicely; the one showing off the family addition, the other fearful of a lack of privacy

Councils must provide plots for local residents where there is demand

Gardeners dig in for long legal battle to defend allotments

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, faces a protracted legal battle after he gave permission to allow developers to build on the site of Farm Terrace allotments in Watford, Hertfordshire.

New wave: Pope Francis has liberated many Catholics from decades of internal exile

Pope Francis can heal the Catholic Church

'Time' magazine's Person of the Year appeals to believers and atheists alike with a message that could bring redemption to a troubled faith

Edward Snowden delivered this year's Alternative Christmas Message on Channel 4

Edward Snowden should have asked the Queen for a few tips on his Christmas message

In fairness to Snowden, the Queen has been giving Christmas messages for a long time

Shoppers queue in the early morning outside Selfridges department store in central London in search of a bargain in the post Christmas Boxing Day sales

What to do between Christmas and New Year

There’s no use ‘fighting through the hordes’ only to suffer the ignominy of having your card declined in front of other dead-eyed bargain-hunting animals

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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