The Christmas season technically begins on Christmas Day, not, as it may often seem, in mid-October. Christmastide – as the period is called in liturgical circles – lasts for twelve days, until 5 January, the night before the feast of Epiphany. The origins of the Christmas carol ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ are not entirely clear,
Today is the last day for sending first-class post if you want it to arrive before Christmas. You’re lucky there’s anyone to deliver it. In October, the Communication Workers Union held a ballot which came out overwhelmingly in support of strike action – 89.1 per cent in favour on a turnout of 73.7 per cent – but the Royal Mail got a High Court injunction to stop the strike.
George Orwell, in a celebrated if brutal remark, said that at fifty everybody has the face he deserves. Luckily for him, Orwell didn’t have to specify what one would need to have done to deserve the face Tony Blair has on his Christmas card this year. As a schoolteacher in the 1980s I took my politics class to sit in the Strangers’ Gallery of the House of Commons. More or less horizontal on the shadow front bench, his feet propped on the Speaker’s table, lounged the recently elected member for Sedgefield, aged 31 and acting already as if he owned the gaff. I thought he was an arse then. It would probably be over-egging it to say that he’s come round to this point of view. But on the Xmas card, Blair wears the look of a man wracked by other people’s conscience. His wife, in scarlet, manages to coax her features into a simper while cosying to his manly pecs.
Foam, Amsterdam’s photography museum, has been running a show on Disguise and Deception featuring work by Anika Schwarzelose, derived from the Tarnen und Täuschen camouflage unit of the German army. On Monday, Foam staged an associated symposium at the Marineterrein naval base.