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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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
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'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering