Voices

Judging by the national mood, I would urge David Cameron to go to the polls now; the mood is good out there

Probe into Labour's 'cancer' postcards

Allegations that Labour has 'cynically' targeted cancer sufferers with an election leaflet are being investigated by the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.

Kate Simon: Wish you were here – but don't expect a postcard anytime soon

Will you be sending any postcards from your holidays this year? I remember as a child having to spend at least one morning of our annual summer holiday writing "wish you were here" to the nearest and dearest – or risk no ice-creams for the rest of the day.

Album: Various Artists, Message from the Tribe: 1972-76 (Universal Sound)

Tribe was a musician-run recording collective in Detroit during the mid-1970s. Big hair, big attitude, big things to say. Big debt to the great Sun Ra.

There's a pattern emerging: How Marie Perkins helped define the phenomenon of big, bold prints for the masses

From textiles to table mats, greetings cards to curtains, over the past few years pattern has exploded into our homes and lives, leaving few objects untouched by graphic retro prints or whimsical illustrations of flora and fauna.

Album: Seasick Steve, ...Songs for Elisabeth (Atlantic)

It's a rum do when a sultry soul diva like Sade arouses less passion than a venerable, bewhiskered hobo like Seasick Steve, but such is apparently the case.

Alone in Berlin, By Hans Fallada

First published in 1947, just prior to its author's death, this astonishing novel now has the British acclaim it deserves thanks a translation by Michael Hofmann that sweeps you headlong down the course of its intimate yet epic drama. Using a real case as his model, Fallada portrays a small, brave act of rebellion against the Third Reich during its glory days in 1940.

Carola Long: Even Xmas cards are now obscene

The perpetuation of stereotypes is especially depressing

Hans Teeuwen, Udderbelly Pasture, Edinburgh

The Dutch comedy icon Hans Teeuwen cuts a ridiculous figure. Ludicrous even. Which is no bad thing for a 42-year old absurdist who, perhaps against the cultural odds, is becoming a regular on the UK comedy scene.

Unaccustomed Earth, By Jhumpa Lahiri

"Be happy, love Baba," are the words with which Ruma's father signed the postcards that landed in her Seattle home, sent during the globe-trotting that was sparked by his wife's death. But what is happiness and how does one achieve it?

Tim Smit: Breaking bread together will break down community barriers

Imagine a summer's day on which millions of us, throughout the UK, sit down to have lunch together with our neighbours: in the middle of our streets, around our tower blocks and on every patch of common ground. The food, entertainment, music and decorations we will have grown, cooked, or created ourselves. That's why The Big Lunch project is asking the people of Britain to stop what they're doing and sit down to lunch together, with friends and neighbours in July.

Clinton Cards to fight back with refinancing and robust sales

The greetingS card retailer Clinton Cards is expected to reveal today it has renegotiated its loan facilities, alongside better-than-expected interim trading results, in moves that will rebuff speculation about its financial stability.

Battle of the heart: Was war poet Rupert Brooke a closet heterosexual?

While researching her new novel about Rupert Brooke, Jill Dawson was seduced by one thought: that the war poet was a homosexual only reluctantly. She presents her evidence to Danuta Kean

Investment Column: Splash out on defensive Severn Trent

Clinton Cards; Hamworthy
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Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
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One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
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Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect