Andrew Martin: I'd let the French run our trains

Their approach to railways is at once hard-headed and romantic
The‘Quad’: David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander

Dominic Lawson: No one, rich or poor, willingly gives up a benefit, however indefensible

None of us is exactly alike in our behaviour – fortunately; but generalisations can certainly be made about human reaction to both good and bad luck. Generalisation one is that we are greatly cast down by a sudden adverse change in our circumstances, but then gradually get used to the new arrangement, and eventually become as happy (or unhappy) as we were beforehand. Generalisation two is that the anger we feel at someone taking something from us tends to be a more powerful sentiment than the gratitude we feel towards someone bestowing a favour on us (the first we feel is undeserved, the second we take as our due).

Pointing the way: Russell Brand at the Secret Policeman’s Ball at Radio City in New York

Secret Policeman's Ball: Stand-up and be counted

Russell Brand stole the show as American and British comics vied for laughs in New York

The Twitter 100: The full at-a-glance list

Click on any link for the full details and scores of each individual in The Twitter 100

Follow @richardbranson " title="

Richard Branson

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The Twitter 100: Top 10 business

Including Richard Branson, Lord Sugar, Umair Haque and Peter Jones

Money Insider: Virgin Money kicks off as Branson plays to win

The Virgin marketing machine was super quick out of the blocks this year, announcing a two-season shirt sponsorship with Newcastle United Football Club before many of us had taken down the Christmas trimmings. The timing couldn't have been better too, as the deal was struck the day before a rousing 3-0 triumph over Manchester United.

Fortune favours the bold

With youth unemployment at over one million, entrepreneurship holds the key for the UK to recover out of the recession, says Rajeeb Dey

Building up credit: Sir Richard wants to make things transparent and fair in his new approach to taking care of people's money

Sir Richard Branson: 'Bankers were greedy, they're discredited. With me, people can see who's accountable'

The Business Interview: Margareta Pagano meets the entrepreneur aiming to restore the British public's flagging trust in banks through Virgin Money's £747m takeover of Northern Rock

Stephen Hawking in his office at Cambridge last month

I owe it all to my father – Hawking marks milestone of 70th birthday

Illness kept him from his party, but the physicist still gave a moving talk about his life. Steve Connor reports

Singer Cheryl Cole

Caught and social: The celebrity winners and losers

Yesterday we brought you some of the key parties and events from the UK this year, today here are some of big events of the celebrity world in 2011.

BA tightens its Heathrow grip with £172m BMI buy

Deal is screwing the travelling public, says Branson after Virgin Atlantic's rival bid fails

Nicholas Lezard: At least nice guys like me are luckier in love

I tend now only to work for those nice left-leaning publications which pay you in hugs and sweet smiles

Business Diary: Roussos to rescue in Greece

Greece, your problems are over. France Dimanche has found the perfect man to lead you out of these dark times: step forward musical superstar Demis Roussos. "I'd love to serve my country," Roussos tells the newspaper. "I already see myself as an ambassador and if someone were to ask me, I could see myself as a minister." Roussos even has a master plan for a new export strategy based on "truffles, olive oil, and Aegean natural gas". Now if we can just persuade Nana Mouskouri to serve too.

Carr says: 'I like the familiarity of certain hotels. It's like having a local pub on the road'

My Life In Travel: Jimmy Carr, comedian and television presenter

'Staying on Necker Island I really felt like James Bond'

Kate Winslet will 'never forget' house fire

Kate Winslet will "never forget" escaping the fire that destroyed Sir Richard Branson's Caribbean home.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
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Day In a Page

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
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015