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.

Stocking fillers: pop-ups, poems and smut

Amazon had better set its drones to attack because beautiful paper books just get better and better. Anyone left disappointed by the Fifty Shades phenomenon might prefer some literary smut in the form of Erotic Stories, edited by Rowan Pelling (Everyman’s Pocket Classics, £10.99). A collection of stories and fragments from Boccaccio to Sarah Waters, it tiptoes from the suggestive – in Guy de Maupassant’s “Idyll”, which begins with a train “plunging abruptly into the black-mouthed tunnels like an animal into its lair” – to the rather shocking – a piece by Edith Wharton, “My Little Girl”, discovered after her death.

The Bonus Track: Bad Santas

A sideways look at the world of music

Chris Ashton celebrates as he scores for Saracens against Zebre

Saracens 64 Zebre 7: Owen Farrell inspires Saracens to victory to keep pressure on Toulouse

Sarries record back to back wins over Zebre to hit the top of Pool Three and force Toulouse into producing a response after their defeat to Connacht last week

Lonely pensioner James Gray invited to huge Liverpool Christmas Day party after newspaper advert

The 85-year-old said he has been inundated with offers from prospective companions who would like to spend 25 December with him

“Shoppergeddon” is coming to the UK and you can't escape it

Just when you thought Black Friday's shopping madness was over, an angry mob of shoppers is set to take over the high street in what some are describing as a “Shoppergeddon”. Yes, you heard it here first.

In the Red: Present misery will await me after a hard Christmas Day’s work

I implore you to shed none of your tinsel tears for me, but come Christmas Day – when those of you who celebrate this festival of generosity and indigestion will no doubt be up to your forehead in the high yuletide – I will be working. No intravenous eggnog for me.

Choreographer Arlene Phillips led hundreds of Save the Children supporters in a dance routine as they attempted to break the record

In pictures: Save the Children attempt to break a Guinness World Record on Christmas Jumper Day

Save the Children has celebrated the Christmas Jumper Day by attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the most people wearing Christmas Jumpers in one place at Westfield London. Choreographer Arlene Phillips led hundreds of Save the Children supporters in a dance routine as they attempted to break the record. 

Video: WestJet Christmas miracle - Airline surprises passengers with festive stunt

Passengers were left startled when they were presented with Christmas gifts they had asked for before boarding a flight

Pensioner James Gray places advert in newspaper for company on Christmas Day

The 85-year-old placed an advert in a newspaper looking for someone else to spend Christmas Day with for the first time in ten years

Postcard from... Paris

Elf help book: America’s favourite way to make sure that children are nice, not naughty, in the run up to Christmas

It is over here and selling fast. Gillian Orr hears the Elf on a Shelf story

This video of a crow sledging down a roof will get you in the mood for Christmas

This could be the perfect pick-me-up for anyone struggling to get into the festive spirit, as a video recordered by a family in Russia showing a crow sledging on a roof using a mayonnaise lid continues to be widely shared online.

Runners dressed in Father Christmas costumes take part in the annual 5km Santa Dash in Liverpool

It's better to give: A student guide to secret Santa

Secret Santa is the best way for friends to give each other gifts without busting through the overdraft

Mariah Carey's Christmas classic 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' is still guaranteed a spin at the office party

Christmas songs: the best and the worst

Whack on some Mariah Carey but leave the Cliff Richard to grandma

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
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Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
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Independent Travel
Vietnam & Cambodia
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
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India & Nepal
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Berlin, Dresden, Meissen & Colditz
Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?