Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

The groan of the cash drawer, the throb of the bill Ah, the joy of safer sex in the high street ...

Give people limitless guns and some will shoot too much; limitless food and some will eat too much; limitless shops they'll shop till they drop. It may seem hard to believe at this time of year, jostled by angry crowds as you toil to acquire a presentable amount of presents but, according to the Economic & Social Research Council, some people are not only addicted to shopping but actually consider shopping better than sex. For some, it seems, shopping essentially is sex - they feel nervous and anxious if they don't do it for a day, and it is the one thing that gives them any satisfaction. "The only way to stop being depressed is to go shopping," says one shopaholic. "It's like time stands still when I am shopping," says another.

Which gives a whole new meaning to BIG bargains, the slap and tickle of bank-notes, the spasms, shudders and groans of cash till drawers, the sensual undulations of carrier bags, the slow unfolding of tender leather wallets, the telltale movement of lifts in department stores, up and down, and the throb of a sheaf of credit-card bills clogging up your letterbox.

I Have had, and still have, a cold. I also know of other people who have had, and still have, a similar cold. It is not a real cold. It is clearly a designer cold, invented in some sinister lab as a test for some much more lethal form of germ warfare. But have the scientists gone mad? Half of Britain has this cold! That's a lot of human guinea pigs, even by MoD standards.

This cold does not progress like a normal cold. This cold knows no boundaries. This is a cold without ethics, a cold without end. This cold IS germ warfare. Bottle it and store it in the Pentagon. Send it as a present to the terrorists in Lima. Give it to Uday. Or Nicholas Soames. But get it off ME.

Shakespeare won't do any more because of his sexism, racism, anti-semitism and cross-dressing references. The new Lolita film may be banned here because it might excite paedophiles. Most of children's literature has already been tossed out of Haringey

Jane Eyre - the treatment of the ghastly Anglican St John could be seen as blasphemous.

The Ugly Duckling - which should have been called "The Misidentified Cygnet" ("Ugly" implies criticism).

Moby Dick - could encourage whaling, by mentioning whaling.

Bleak House - brings British legal system into disrepute.

Anna Karenina - encourages suicides.

Madame Bovary - ditto.

Little Women - sexist: women are not "little".

Edgar Allen Poe - scary.

Frankenstein - weird.

Hardy - depressing.

Henry James - snob.

TS Eliot - anti-semite.

Ezra Pound - ditto.

Jane Austen - no good at pastoral descriptions.

Oscar Wilde - Irish.

James Joyce - ditto.

Tolstoy - mentions war.

Thomas Mann - mentions death.

Cyrano de Bergerac - nose-ist.

Sherlock Holmes - druggie.

Tristram Shandy - anarchic.

The Ancient Mariner - bird abuse.

Rabelais - French.

Proust - ditto.

Salman Rushdie - the Ayatollah said so.

Stendhal's The Red and the Black - sounds racist, even if it isn't.

Yeats - Irish.

Edith Wharton - American.

Donne - too sexy.

The Thirty Nine Steps - dated.

The Last of the Mohicans - why "last"?

The Three Musketeers - discriminates against the fourth musketeer.

Jonathan Swift - advocated cannibalism, and had an unseemly interest in horses.

Babar the Elephant - species-ist.

Dr Dolittle - encourages animals to have abnormalities.

Ovid's Metamorphosis - why can't everything just stay the same?

Now don't complain that you've got nothing to read. There's still Jeffrey Archer, Barbara Cartland, Danielle Steele and the Spice Girls.

Sheffield is to have its very own pop music museum, in the shape of four massive drums. But where's the lottery money for a Barbara Cartland Museum, which the famous authoress has urged Tewkesbury councillors to consider? She wrote to them about it on pink notepaper, and has obviously given the matter at least as much thought as she gave to each of her 600- plus novels.

Her idea is that a 45-room Tewkesbury house in which she apparently grew up should be entirely devoted to her memory. There would be a life-size model of herself in a pink dress at the entrance, while the sound of her rendition of love-songs, from a recording she made just a few years ago, would waft through the building. It's bound to attract tourists to Tewkesbury, she says, and there's a precedent: a Barbara Cartland cafe in Norfolk has proved quite popular.

I feel for Dame Barbara. It's terrible to be a national joke and not even notice. A privilege she shares with all the other royals, and would- be royals, and royal hangers-on who've hung on so long some sort of royal connection was inevitable. Fergie, for instance. And Prince Philip, who will go to his grave believing that everyone but him is a daft old fool.

If she really wants a museum, why not paint the Millennium Exhibition hall pink and call it the Barbara Cartland Pimple? A country gets the museums it deserves after all.

Near-Death Experience of the year: according to Woman magazine, a 72- year-old man was blown off his 17th-floor balcony in Regensdorf, Switzerland by a gust of wind. Luckily, another gust of wind blew him back on to a 16th-floor balcony. Happy holidays.