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Don't drop your tights, Lord Irvine

Dressed like a glittering beadle, he can blame his true ludicrousness on something else

Return of the masterpiece that survived fire, flood and woodworm

A DECORATIVE woodcarving widely considered to be the finest work of art of its type has returned to Britain after an absence of more than 300 years.

Monday books: And so to bed? Not a Pepys

JEM (AND SAM): A REVENGER'S TALE BY FERDINAND MOUNT, CHATTO & WINDUS, pounds 14.99 THE JOURNAL OF MRS PEPYS: PORTRAIT OF A MARRIAGE BY SARAH GEORGE, REVIEW, pounds 12.99

Design News: In bed with Charles II

n THE ONLY annoying thing about falling for a picture or an object in an art gallery is having to wait till the exhibition is over before you can buy it and take it home. The organisers of "Southern Craftmakers" understand such impatience: should you wish to purchase one of the 140 items on show you can whisk it away at the end of whatever stage the tour is on, and a similar piece will take its place.

Fashion: Everyday people

Street style in the Nineties is less about shock, more about blending in - the difference is in the tiniest details, chronicled here by photographer Henry Bond

Outtakes: Furry symbols of wealth and power, feathered accessories and four-legged friends

Animals in portraits are highly symbolic and form part of the artist's commentary on his subject, argues the chief curator of the National Portrait Gallery. Judge for yourself what the artists were saying in these paintings. Top: Anna Pavlova with Jack, by Lafayette, 1927. Above: Sir Edwin Landseer by John Ballantyne, 1865. Above right: Ellen Terry with terriers. Right: Charles II and puppy, 1630. Far right: Max Wall Maggi Hambling, 1981.

Book review: A hero in search of Trafalgar

PRINCE RUPERT: Admiral and General-at-Sea by Frank Kitson, Constable pounds 20

Education: Passed/Failed - Beryl Bainbridge

The novelist Beryl Bainbridge, 63, wrote Every Man For Himself, based on the Titanic story, which was Whitbread Novel of the Year and runner-up for the Booker Prize. She is featured on The South Bank Show on Sunday. Her novel Master Georgie is published in April.

Theatre reviews

NEVER LAND

Comfort of strangers

Again and again this week people - almost always women - have told me the same story. It is about how they felt themselves compelled to go down to Kensington Palace. Some laid flowers, one or two signed the book of condolence. They knelt down for a moment, or just stood there and had their moment of silence, talked a little with strangers doing the same thing - and then went home to their children, their pets and their husbands.

Letter: Royal rifts

Your leading article "Crisis for the church? Why?" (10 August) says "no Supreme Governor of the Church of England has been divorced, never mind remarried". Charles II was urged to divorce his wife, Catherine of Braganza, when she failed to produce an heir, and to marry again. Among those supporting this course of action was the Bishop of Chester. George I was already divorced when he acceded to the throne in 1714. Although he did not remarry, like Charles II did, he enjoyed several liaisons. George IV attempted to divorce his wife, Caroline of Brunswick, from whom he had been separated for over 20 years. He was unsuccessful, but she obliged him by dying a few months after his coronation.

Book review / Stinks, squalor and splendour

Restoration London by Liza Picard, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pounds 20

Racing: Andreyev heading towards Jersey

Andreyev will attempt to give Richards Hannon and Hughes their second Jersey Stakes win at Royal Ascot in three years after taking the Listed King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket yesterday.

words: Political

AS pre-election tempers get hotter and insults fly faster, we can expect to hear more and more politicians using one of the most insulting words they know. Political. A loyal backbencher threw it at the Opposition last week in defence of Douglas Hogg, who was in a bit of trouble over the state of our abattoirs. To attack Mr Hogg at this juncture was "blatant political opportunism", he cried. Mere opportunism, one felt, was one thing, but that sort ... To what further depths could an Opposition sink?

Johnny Foreigner

Condom was Charles II's physician and was knighted by the Merry Monarch for his services. True or false? False, sadly, although it sounds convincing. In fact, no one really knows the origin of the word condom. What we do know is that they have been in use since at least 1,350BC when Egyptian tribesmen used them not as contraceptive devices but as protection from disease, injury and insect bites. The strawberry-flavoured, anatomically shaped, lubricated, spermicidally charged condom had to wait another 3,340 years.
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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