For any art lover, the prospect of a new year of exhibitions - of new wonders revealed and old friends revisited - is, of course, immensely exciting. But only the very organised institutions have their exhibition programmes confirmed well in advance, and in these increasingly uncertain times, even the top museums sometimes have to change their plans at the last moment. Since 9/11 collectors abroad have been less inclined to lend valuable works, while the downturn in the economy has made sponsorship more elusive than ever.
At a time when even the Labour party panders to the rich and to the middle classes, it is a pleasure to talk to a genuine socialist. Jack Jones, who will be 90 in March and was one of the most powerful men in Britain when he led the Transport & General Workers' Union in the 1970s, retains the unfashionable belief that the purpose of the Labour movement is to improve the lot of the working classes and the poor.
Never in the course of parliamentary history has the personal honour of MPs been more widely doubted and discounted than it is today. Last week the Speaker of the House of Commons announced that, from 2004, not just the Register of Members' Interests but even their expenses claims will be made available to public scrutiny. Will it ultimately work in the public's favour to subject our politicians to ever more rigorous audits of their financial affairs?
It is not just MPs who are being investigated - always with the automatic assumption of guilt until innocence is proven - by ever-nosier public bodies.