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

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
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Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before