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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.

Greene King sees record sales over Christmas period

Brewer and pub owner Greene King today said it enjoyed its best-ever Christmas and New Year.

The new chair of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen

We know recovery exists, just not what it looks like

The upturn is a strange beast, with patchy strength and a tendency to hide from some of us. Still, the good news is that it seems to be here to stay

Online sales growing at fastest rate in three years as high street suffers

Web sales growth in December accelerated to 19.2%, the fastest rate for more than three years

Bath prop David Wilson's calf injury leaves England short of options for the France game

Six Nations 2014: Injured trio could return for Ireland match

Stuart Lancaster believes three of England's orthopaedically challenged brigade – the Northampton full-back Ben Foden, the London Irish wing Marland Yarde and the Bath prop David Wilson – may return to fitness in time for the mid-point match of the Six Nations Championship, against Ireland at Twickenham on 22 February. The head coach did not say so openly, but he would surely take Wilson over the other two at this stage of proceedings.

Shuruq, ridden by Silvestre de Sousa, wins the Al-Maktoum Challenge Round One in Godolphin's second colours

Shuruq shows old Godolphin virtues to open Dubai Carnival

Godolphin threw down the gauntlet on the opening of day of the Dubai Carnival with two runners who recently emerged from a six-month ban resulting from the Mahmood al-Zarooni steroid scandal – and were instantly rewarded in Round One of the appropriately named Al-Maktoum Challenge, but with a filly beyond reproach in Shuruq.

Greggs returns to sales growth after strong Christmas- but plans to cut 410 jobs

Baker Greggs saw a 3.1 per cent rise in sales in the five-week festive period. But it still piled gloom onto staff by warning that up to 410 jobs are to be axed to save money.

Last year the use of mephedrone, also dubbed meow meow or MCAT, was reported to be soaring

Student home from university ‘cut off his own penis and stabbed his mother while high on mephedrone’

Police described both as stable after they were rushed to hospital with life-threatening – and in the teenager’s case, apparently self-inflicted – wounds

RSA blames £200m hole on 'inappropriate collaboration' between bosses in Irish business

Probe finds “inappropriate collaboration” between bosses in the insurers Irish busines

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the Marks and Spencer's Christmas ad

M&S disappoints after clothing sales decline for 10th consecutive quarter as rival Ted Baker surges

Both are retailers keen to offer top-end, high-quality clothing at affordable prices to affluent and aspiring shoppers.

Slide in sales wipes 31 per cent off Mothercare

Mothercare suffered a humiliating setback to its plans for a turnaround in its UK business as the baby and childrenswear business issued a shock profit warning.

Mothercare shares slide 30% after profit warning

Shock profit warning sent shares crashing more than 30 per cent

Eat, drink and be very extravagant: UK shoppers embrace Waitrose and Sainsbury’s high-end brands

Shopping habits show Britons are regaining a taste for the finer things in life

The pope has a lamb put around his neck by a woman dressed as a character from the nativity scene at Church of St Alfonso Maria dei Liguori in the outskirts of Rome

Pope visits Nativity re-enactment

Swinson criticised the fact that MPs do not automatically get maternity leave

Babies and the House of Commons: an impossible juggling act and a bad model for the country

David Cameron wants to make Britain family friendly but Westminster is a notoriously bad place to be a parent – as MP Jo Swinson revealed this week. Sarah Morrison reports

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the Marks and Spencer's Christmas ad

No 'Magic and Sparkle' for M&S as retailer expected to reveal another fall in clothing sales

Chief executive Marc Bolland has yet to report a successful Christmas sales period

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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past