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Did the UK economy do well after all?

Not when set in a domestic historical context. And our productivity performance has still been dread...

ComRes poll: Farage as popular as Cameron

Nigel Farage is viewed as favourably as David Cameron, according to a ComRes poll for The Independen...

Poll alert

We have a ComRes opinion poll in tomorrow’s Independent on Sunday, shared with the Sunday Mirr...

The 1950s housewife's job is made easier with the advent of the twin tub

Sarah Sands: Life's a breeze... as long as the washing machine doesn't pack up

A City high-flyer says domestic appliances provide life's most trying moments. Our writer agrees

Sarah Sands: Loudmouths and braggarts have had their day

A former boss once recommended to me hiring a young man he had met at dinner. My heart sank because I knew this man to be bumptious and not that bright. My boss assured me that I was mistaken. The youth was bold, visionary and going places. "Is that what you thought?" I sighed. "No, that is what he told me," he replied.

David Beckham and Tom Cruise feel the love. But is it only shared fame that binds them?

Sarah Sands: A friend is not the one you turn to, but the person who turns to you

David Beckham's admission that he has only three good friends rings true

Sarah Sands: We must love developers as much as our own homes

On the way to a meeting in South Kensington recently, I passed a basement flat, and my heart sank. The huge, two-bedroom flat with a fabulous skylight and courtyard was mine about 25 years ago. I sold it for under £50,000 – it must now be worth £2m.

Sarah Sands: The rich are more visible, so there's more to dislike

How far could Stephen Hester's bonus stretch? It might pay for soldiers in Afghanistan, nurses, home helps, care workers. But it might not cover a Nat Rothschild birthday party. Wealth is relative, as well as exotic.

Sarah Sands: Sorry, Joan, the lack of an accent is not a bar to a BBC job

The thinking man's neglected crumpet Joan Bakewell believes that her ruling-class voice makes her unemployable by the BBC. Look how cockneys dominate the ratings: Benedict Cumberbatch, for instance, or the pearly king himself, David Attenborough.

Sarah Sands: 'Did we turn the oven off?' trumps 'I love you'

A piquant gag in The Artist is when the neglected wife of the silent movie star begs him: "We need to talk." Her husband ignores her, demonstrating his modernity in marital relations, if not in movie technology.

Sarah Sands: The Tudors are the seasoned beams of British history

The historian Niall Ferguson once complained that schoolchildren are taught only about Henry VIII and the world wars. Yes, but let's face it, these are the blockbusters of British history.

Sarah Sands: YouTube justice is a kangaroo court online

What should you do if someone is foul mannered on public transport? It is spirit-crushing for everyone who witnesses it, yet intervention feels thankless or dangerous. You can report someone swearing or smoking or ranting to an official, but they are as fearful as everyone else. The signs in stations, or hospitals for that matter, warning that staff must not be threatened or abused by passengers or patients, suggest an institutionalised dread of the public. You could call the police, but that means lock-down and nobody getting to work. Furthermore, nobody expects it to lead to a conviction. The result is that we are wretchedly complicit in an uncivil society.

Sarah Sands: Charity is about more than money, but giving is a start

The BBC can be bashful about the place of Christianity in our national life: it recently sanctioned the substitution of the lovely terms Before Christ and Anno Domini by the thumpingly prosaic and Welsh examination boardesque Before Common Era and Common Era.

Sarah Sands: We are all hardwired to happiness

Even gloomy news cannot bring us down

Sarah Sands: Is any woman man enough to play Miss Trunchbull?

The inspired casting of Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchbull in Matilda, one of the year's greatest performances, owes something to the RSC's employment policies. Casting has to be blind to sex and race. Now I am not sure whether a woman could ever play the role again – or, indeed, anyone else but Mr Carvel. It is his role, in the same way that Mark Rylance is now synonymous with Johnny "Rooster" Byron in Jerusalem. The soft-voiced, sadistic, sports-mad headmistress with her leather coat and whistle is a glorious creation.

Sarah Sands: Solving unemployment begins at home

At a hotel in Mozambique, a waiter poured my tea. He held the pot slightly too high so that it cascaded over the cup, the saucer and my hand. He stared at me helplessly, murmured, "Oh shit," but continued pouring until I dropped the crockery in agony.

Sarah Sands: Rick Perry's wordsearch spells game over

There's a line in the new George Clooney political thriller The Ides of March: "You can start a war and bankrupt the country but you can't fuck the interns." If you have "trouble verbalising" you're in even more trouble. Think how exhaustively our politicians are coached for Question Time and quadruple it. Rick Perry, the Texas governor, would have anticipated every variation of political question, but it was the "name three" that poleaxed him. Asked which departments he would axe he got commerce and education, but the word "energy" eluded him. Tumbleweed.

Sarah Sands: Force, not laughter, brings a tyrant down

As Joseph Stalin, played by Simon Russell Beale, strides about the National Theatre stage, with his thyroid eyes and a soft Bristol accent, there is a guilty gurgle of appreciation from the audience. I am reminded of Peter Conrad's anxious response to Simon Sebag Montefiore's Stalin biographies: "Should the life of a black hearted ogre be quite so entertaining?"

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