We don't have many Christmas traditions in my family.
I'm a bit constrained in what I can write this week. My solicitor has said that I am absolutely not allowed to write about moving house.
Despite the political meltdown of the past ten days, the smack of firm government remains intact. From the Home Office comes the news that new Labour is to ban imports of absinthe, a hallucinogenic green concoction to which smart-set drinkers are apparently getting addicted.
Two Christmases ago my mother made a series of unusual telephone calls to London from her home in Trinidad. "Is your father coming home for the Christmas holidays?" she asked my daughters. They were puzzled. I was more so.
Since Byron's days, the great and the wicked have chosen to call this place home
The most memorable scene in Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita was provided by blonde, buxom Anita Ekberg splashing about in Rome's Trevi fountain.
I certainly don't wish to fill a column which has got to last you for the next two weeks with something which will sound like a purely personal grievance. But where on earth are all my Christmas cards?
We base ourselves on the idea that we must peacefully co-exist, said Nikita Khrushchev - clearly a man who had never lingered in Purley where, shortly before Christmas, Sir Bernard Ingham was arrested for allegedly kicking one of his next-door neighbour's three Mercedes cars.
I never quite know what to do about Christmas cards. Some years I send them, some years I don't. The result is a strange sort of fractured, dislocated correspondence from year to year. People cross me off their Christmas card lists ("well, he didn't send us one").
Nobody has yet asked me to name my favourite book (or indeed anything else) of the year, and it's getting rather close to Christmas. But among the many benefits (for me) of writing this column is that, when all else fails and nobody wants to ask me about something, I can ask myself.
Readers of this column know that I chaired a public debate on Channel 4 following a Dispatches programme which reported gang rapes perpetrated by black juveniles on their female contemporaries of the same race.
We like our Christmas miracles simple. First along was Zoe McDougall, born weighing 15 ounces and now home from hospital. Second in line was the recommendation that research into human "spare part" cloning should be legal.
For the whole of this month I've been carefully looking for opportunities to play around with small children.
Class boundaries have been redrawn. Up the social order go teachers, librarians and bank managers, now elevated to Professional Grade One. Down go cooks, hairdressers and plasterers.
Has anybody famous come out of the "Fame School of Performing Arts" that Paul McCartney helped set up in Liverpool four years ago? And what about that football academy that the FA set up with great publicity in the mid-eighties?
At the heart of the Commons stands a watering hole where indiscretion is routine and intrigue flouri
My brother, 35, still lives with his mum. Two years ago, when our mother moved to London, it seemed only natural that my high-earning, single brother should invite her to share his large flat.
As I write, it is almost 27 years to the day that I and eight others walked out of the Old Bailey, freed by a jury on charges of riot, affray and a mixed bag of assaults on police. Those were primitive days compared with what transpires now.
I was going to save this information until the next significant dinner party silence but, deferred gratification never having been my strong point, I might as well lean back smugly now and announce my good news. It's odds on that I have found the osteopath of my dreams.
Kwame Toure, formerly Stokely Carmichael, died last week, aged 57. Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson apart, he was perhaps the leading black revolutionary activist in the United States in the late sixties and seventies.
I like to think that I have a modest reputation as a rumour-monger.
The trial of the world's most prolific serial killer began this week. Known as the Terminator, Anatoly Onoprienko is thought to have murdered 53 people, many of them small children.
The other day I read the New Statesman's recent supplement on lifelong learning. Somebody had rung up various famous people and asked what they had learnt since stopping formal education.
Who but the most skilful mandarin could work for Lawson, Major and now Brown?
It was a pity that, in all the recent remembrance of the first world war, there was nothing about the press. In 1917 the prime minister, David Lloyd George, confided to C P Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian: "If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow.
The liberal conscience of the nation despairs of the grubby hypocrisy of our politicians
This week, I chaired a discussion show on Channel 4. The current affairs department had commissioned a small independent company, Laurel Productions, to make a 30-minute documentary on young people's sexuality.
I realised that my relationship with my one-time GP was foundering when I discovered that my surgery file consisted of a note of two old prescriptions and assorted press clippings.
I've been trying to imagine how I would describe what it's like to move house to someone who had never done it. Everybody knows the old cliche about it being the third most traumatic event in life after a death in the family and divorce. But somehow that doesn't convey the particular pain.