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In my previous dispatch from the traumatic home-hunting frontline, where regiments of estate agents fire broadsides of scorn at our hilarious budget-to-square-footage aspirations, I detailed how one such know-it-all had been forced to tell us – just as we were about to enter – why the house was unsellable, due to the all-pervasive stench of chemicals from the dry cleaner down below. Needless to say, we weren't inordinately tempted.

Jack Pitt-Brooke: At Queen's, a quaintly English affair doesn't quite go to plan

View From The Sofa: Aegon Championships at Queen's, BBC1

Susannah Shops: Anything but haute

At least a few designers out there are pragmatic enough to realise that if they adhere to a signature style, they will not only please a loyal customer base, but will also drop in and out of fashion in its more ephemeral guise, thereby regularly attracting new consumers into the fold.

The Hacker: Shoe socks are OK but 'massive intellects' put their foot in it again

Adapting to life under the new Equality Act has not been easy for most golf clubs, particularly those who've been male-dominated for 100 years or more.

The Game of Love and Chance, Playhouse, Salisbury

Old farce with a new identity

Diary: Kirsty makes a boob on tape

Cheery property expert-cum-TV homemaker Kirsty Allsopp was at Thursday's Hodder dinner at Café de Paris to promote the new paperback edition of Kirstie's Homemade Home. Deciding, however, that the subject of craft would yield few gags, she chose to recount a racy anecdote from her youth.

A new spin on Shakespeare

Propeller, theatre's celebrated all-male ensemble, has a reputation for witty, adventurous takes on the Bard. Alice Jones visits rehearsals for its latest double bill

Deborah Ross: Surrender to the fleece and the game is up

If you ask me...

You can keep your red underwear, bankers told

Good news for Swiss bankers: They may soon be allowed to wear red underwear, black nail polish – and even eat garlic.

Resolution!, The Place, London

The funny side of naked ambition

Deborah Ross: These tips will stop you buying stupid presents

If you ask me...

My Secret Life: Terence Conran, designer, 79

My parents were... a constant inspiration, and encouraged our creativity at a time when such a thing was almost unheard of.

Leading article: Dressed to impress

School uniforms: garments of oppression or liberation? It's a tricky one. What, many will ask, could be more effacing of an individual's character than requiring them to dress in an identical way? Uniforms are for the armed forces, or the police. What business do we have imposing such stifling conformity on children? Some young people agree with this.

Outside the Box: 'Scissorhands Sid' is a cut above the rest for Stoke

They come and go, these football managers, but fortunately for barber Sid Cartlidge, a 70-year-old Stoke City supporter, they all need a haircut from time to time. The man known as Scissorhands Sid reckons to have served 17 different managers, which by our reckoning takes him as far back as the Potters' icon Tony Waddington. He has just opened a new salon in town, at a ceremony attended by the current incumbent Tony Pulis and several predecessors, including Lou Macari (two spells as manager in the 1990s), George Eastham (1977-78) and the current director of football John Rudge. Ruthlessly cast aside by neighbouring Port Vale after 15 years as manager, Rudge is if anything even more, er, folically challenged than Pulis, and says: "It's not about what he takes off any more, but what he leaves on. I've so little hair left these days that Sid can give me a cut over the phone."

Sarah Sands: Threadbare is the classiest look of all

The PM's shabby socks signal his fine lineage

In defence of the older man

You may not even know it – but if you are a male of a certain age, you have become the latest target in the battle of the sexes. Enough, says Michael Bywater. It’s time to fight back
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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
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

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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

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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
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Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
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Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
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