Prepare for a very long – and indecisive – Christmas

The Cabinet is split on further restrictions – a miracle, really, given that the scientists do not seem to be and the Opposition has gone totally loco for lockdown. So it is the reawakening of something special to the Conservative... Read more

A conspiracy of silence has left us trapped in permanent Covid fear

I sense that we have stumbled into a monumental Covid trap. True, the Prime Minister was unable to announce fresh Covid restrictions yesterday amid Cabinet concerns about the limitations of the data on omicron. His political authority to impose restrictions... Read more

Look up, England: Scotland’s Covid rules show the arts what’s coming next

Senior figures in the Scottish arts argue that opting for clear, legally enforceable rules – rather than the voluntarism in place in England since July – simplifies Covid policy and leads to a high level of compliance among the population.... Read more

‘Mousehole died that night’: how the Penlee lifeboat disaster unfolded

December 19 is the anniversary, marked by west Cornwall each year, of the Penlee lifeboat disaster, in which the eight crewmen of the Solomon Browne died trying to rescue the crew and passengers of the Union Star – while, with... Read more

Two Doors Down Christmas Special, review: comedy as awkward as Christmas with the neighbours

What could be more festive than inviting the neighbours round for a deeply awkward drinks party? Nibbles and nervous smalltalk. It’s a tale nearly as old as Santa himself. This was the simple yet effective set-up for Two Doors Down... Read more

We Wish You a Mandy Christmas, review: a giddily absurd Dickens parody – but with more Tia Maria

Bite-sized comedy Mandy (BBC Two) returned for a giddily absurd seasonal special, subtitled We Wish You a Mandy Christmas. Creator Diane Morgan had extended the show’s usual running time of 15 minutes to a suitably epic 20. Now there’s the... Read more

Linda Whetstone, evangelist for the free market who also helped to raise standards in British dressage – obituary

The second of four children, Linda Fisher was born on November 17 1942 in Binfield, Berkshire, to Antony Fisher and his first wife Eve, née Naylor, and brought up at Newplace, a large house in Framfield, Sussex, with 440 acres... Read more

Why Liz Truss’s new Brexit role could make or break her Downing Street future

What Johnson likes about her is that she reflects parts of his personality – she is an optimist.  But it’s also why her supporters believe her success is tied up in his. “Boris Johnson needs to go out on a... Read more

How small town at the centre of the Covid omicron outbreak has moved into self-imposed lockdown

Over a five-day period last week, more than 3,500 booster vaccines were administered in Brackley and nearby Towcester – an increase of more than 160 per cent from the same period the week before. It means nearly 60 per cent... Read more

Workers have already cut their social contacts to lockdown levels, so can they really be expected to tolerate further curbs?

It is also worth noting that this data only runs up to December 9, four days before new working from home guidance came into effect – so we can assume that contact rates are even lower now. There may be... Read more

Laura Kuenssberg to step down as BBC’s political editor at Easter

The BBC said Kuenssberg had been “enormously successful” as political editor. In her seven years, she covered two general elections, the Brexit referendum and the Government’s response to the Covid pandemic. However, she has also been a polarising figure, with... Read more

Rishi Sunak has just 24 hours to save pubs from lockdown ‘limbo’, industry warns

Rishi Sunak has just 24 hours to commit to a package of support for businesses or risk the permanent closure of 10,000 pubs and restaurants, industry chiefs have warned. Hospitality bosses demanded that the Chancellor end the “limbo” for businesses... Read more

How a Welsh valley town became Britain’s property hotspot

Britain’s most profitable region for homeowners was the Welsh valley town of Mountain Ash in 2021, where the average asking price rose by almost a third to £137,220. The town of Porth, in the same Welsh county borough of Rhondda... Read more

For sale: a £2.5m former rectory where you might be able to spot the Beast of Exmoor

The Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Congo River Basin’s Mokele-mbembe are a motley crew championed by a strange subculture known as cryptozoology.  Is this a lesser known digital currency? It is not. Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience devoted... Read more

‘My e-gift card purchase was hampered by Fortnum’s till’

Dear Sally, My husband’s parents gave me a £100 Fortnum & Mason e-gift card for my birthday. In November, I went to its Piccadilly store in London to purchase some gifts. But the e-gift card on my phone could not... Read more

Scrap state pension age increase as we’re not living longer, report warns

Under LCP’s calculations, anyone aged between 37 and 60 should receive their state pension at 66, rather than 67 as currently planned. The latest population figures put around 21 million people in this age bracket. This change would deprive the... Read more

Money Makeover: ‘I earn £125,000 and want to retire in 16 years – is it too late to start investing?’

Few sectors have been as impacted by the pandemic as much as the airline industry, with mass travel bans meaning many plans to travel abroad have failed to take off. Pilot Will Godwin, 39, from Worcestershire, saw his income cut... Read more

Celebrity cars: what are the stars driving home for Christmas?

Allen, who recently published his autobiography No Shame, said his parents are from a generation that loved going out for a drive. “It didn’t matter where. Sometimes we went for miles to admire the countryside. Nowadays people just go to... Read more

Nadiya Hussain: ‘I don’t feel famous, but I’ve become public property in a way I didn’t ask for’

Nadiya Hussain, 36, grew up in Luton, one of six children in a British-Bangladeshi family. In 2015, she won the sixth series of The Great British Bake Off, a victory that catapulted her into a career of television presenting and... Read more

17 board games your children will actually want to play

It’s Bananas  2 or more players; age 6 and over. £23.99 Instructions: bizarrely complicated and may leave you losing the will to live, let alone play Roll up your sleeves and limber up, because this is a physical game that... Read more

Covid taught us altruism – here’s how we can keep helping each other

The reawakening of altruism is one of the few benefits of our extended isolation last year. When we were unable to be with our friends and loved ones, we were reminded how central social support is to wellbeing, and how... Read more

Herbs and spices can reduce blood pressure and heart disease – here’s how to get more into your diet

It’s the easiest way to inject flavour into your cooking – a sprinkle of cinnamon on your porridge, cumin in your soup, ginger in your tea or fresh herbs in your salads and stews. But did you know your penchant... Read more

Is the new Covid drug the answer to our prayers?

The Covid drugs are finally here – but how well will they work? On Monday, the NHS began giving out doses of a new antiviral drug designed to prevent Covid patients from needing to go into hospital. Sotrovimab, a monoclonal... Read more

‘My undiagnosed dyslexia left me battling with imposter syndrome’

In my second year, I put myself forward for a test to see if I was dyslexic. When they told me I had dyspraxia too (clumsiness, confusion over left and right, poor short-term memory), I felt a huge weight lift... Read more

Try as I might, I have never managed to buy my wife a present that she likes

The sound of ripping wrapping paper on Christmas morning once filled me with joy, accompanied as it inevitably was by the sound of children’s laughter. I’m a giver, not a taker, and before my children grew up and left home,... Read more