Arts and Entertainment

A window on the real world with Danny and his diamond geezers

CHRISTMAS WITH THE ENGLISH NOVELISTS

Dickens' A Christmas Carol is practically a blueprint for a traditional celebration, despite the fact it doesn't feature plastic toys, Quality Street, turkey or squabbles over the Christmas TV programmes. Anyone harking back to a simpler, less consumerist festival should consult one of three literary anthologies, published by Sutton at pounds 9.99: Dickens' Christmas, ed John Hudson, The Brontes' Christmas, ed Maria Hubert, and Thomas Hardy's Christmas, ed John Chandler (all Sutton pounds 9.99).

Theatre / Flying turkey

Missing Jesus

LAST NIGHT

As a device for extracting intimate information, The Chair (BBC2) is nothing compared to the large expanse of the daytime chat-show sofa. Julian Clary, a man introduced as being more serious in private than his outrageous public persona (shock), occupied the tiny seat opposite Oliver James. Would he, the good doctor wondered, care to discuss which parent he preferred the most? Or would that question be deemed too invidious? Our Julian, the product of a scholarship education, didn't understand the meaning of the word and, anyway, he couldn't possibly say - they might be watching. Though it was, Julian conceded, not a question that Anne Diamond would have asked. Too true. On the daytime sofa they would have simply asked him if he was gay because he didn't like his mum. And then they would have laid on a nice phone-in so the viewers could chip in their feelings on the subject. But Julian, we discover, is none too fond of confrontation. "I can't go to New York City," he said. "Because the policemen shout at you for crossing the road, and I can't stand it."

It's Wednesday the 25th: just another working day

The emergency services are not alone. Caterers, farmers and bankers are on duty too, writes Clare Garner

Whitaker and Skelton triumph

John Whitaker and Nick Skelton celebrated their new sponsorship deal when they won yesterday evening's two contests at the Olympia Show Jumping Championships.

BBC drops its pounds 1m Christmas TV turkey

A pounds 1m Christmas food scare spoof on "mad turkey disease" has been pulled from the BBC's Christmas television schedules because of the Scottish E coli outbreak which has now killed 12 people and infected nearly 400.

POETRY IN BRIEF

2 Christmas Day by Paul Durcan, Harvill pounds 9.99/ pounds 6.99. If you are at all jaded by or cynical about the commercialism of Christmas, you should try this as an antidote. Paul Durcan's new book-length poem portrays the Christmas ritual not so much as spreading goodwill as showing up the fissures and sutures in the protagonists' lives: "Christmas is the Feast of St Loneliness."

Film: Christmas Turkeys

Christmas is coming, and it's the time of year when bountiful studio santas like to offer audiences a few brightly wrapped novelties. If you read the gift tag on the poster, these are usually billed as "a magical modern day fairytale" or some other twinkly guff that screams "Beware! Schmaltz! Only watch this if your brain has been irreparably damaged by sherry!" Unfortunately, instead of setting the warning bells jing, jing jingling, such tags can actually excite the seasonally sluggish Christmas bloater into staggering from the table towards the local multiplex, producing respectable turnovers for even the most corn-fed of Christmas turkeys.

Competition: Literary quiz

This gastro-literary quiz is divided into three courses, each with an element of self-service. We give you all the ingredients - both the questions and the answers - all you have to do is mix them together to taste. The prizes for the winner are all the food and drink books in the Dillons Christmas catalogue. There are also three runners-up prizes of pounds 100 of Dillons Gift Vouchers and an additional 10 runners-up prizes of pounds 50 Dillons gift vouchers.

Suicide fears for `bullied' boy

A missing schoolboy thought to have thrown himself into the sea was the victim of bullying, his father claimed yesterday.

Have yourself a calorific Christmas

THE COST of Christmas has been calculated, and it comes to 6,825, writes Tim Minogue.

Not everyone is nuts about Christmas with the folks

Dreading those days spent holed up with a bickering family? Virginia Ironside offers some advice

There's turkey and pud, but why?

The Christmas meal. A ritual in piggery that makes mothers scream and sends cardiologists into a frenzy. As turkeys tremble and stomachs recoil from the next onslaught of Aunt Aggie's terminal Christmas pudding, don't you ever ask yourself, "Why?"

LEADING ARTICLE : A warm glow in South Mimms

Stress over Britain. Stress curling under the doors of the executives of merchant banks; stress seizing the hearts of overworked middle managers in cold embrace; stress entering the industrial estate and paralysing the limbs of the small businessman; stress enveloping the Christmas shopper; seasonal stress taking the round redness out of the cook's face and replacing it with a pinched desperation. And stress gripping the temper of the Yuletide motorist, caught in jams or stranded by snow, with so much to do and so little time to do it.

Jasper Pleydell-Bouverie squares up to being the perfect Christmas host

This festive season looks like being an interesting experience. Gathered around a Derbyshire Christmas tree will be my mother and father- in-law, my wife and I, and two complete strangers called Dagnew and Ying Xue.
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth gamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
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The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
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Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
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Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
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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
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
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Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

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Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

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How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

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