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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.

In the studio: Varda Caivano, artist - 'My paintings are like

Varda Caivano works in a studio close to the train tracks in semi-fashionable Hackney Wick, east London, near where she lives with her partner and young son. Her studio is small, with many paintings turned face to the walls. People are coming soon to collect paintings for her upcoming show at a gallery in Tokyo, and she is still considering what to send. "I always take 40 per cent more then I need so I can see how it looks in the space."

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Trump card

The festive family selfie is the Christmas card of choice for all three party leaders this year, but they each had their own take. There was one clear winner, says Andy McSmith