Gin

Tom Hodgkinson Tom Hodgkinson: 'The only booming businesses are booze and payday

In the run-up to Christmas I found myself watching a lot of telly. My friends accuse me of hypocrisy since I used to rail against the evils of TV and even advised people, in a book, to chuck out their telly. I defend myself by blaming my children: I felt bad denying them the pleasures of schoolyard conversation about The X Factor.

The 10 Best advent calendars

The most delicious chocolate treats help make waiting for Christmas so much more enjoyable for children and adults alike

The 10 Best advent calendars

The most delicious chocolate treats to help make waiting for Christmas so much more enjoyable for children and adults alike

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‘There’s no money for school lunches, but there is some for gin

Gin and tonics at €3.45 (£2.94), seven-year-old rum and coke at €6.85, and beer at 95 cents a glass might sound reminiscent of a happy hour price list. Spain’s MPs may be in search of some new watering holes, however, after the country’s main political parties put an abrupt end to most subsidised alcoholic drinks in the parliament’s nine different bars and cafeterias.