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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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?