From December 30, 2004

Ten years ago the Comet delved into the darker side of Christmas with help from the UK’s biggest counselling charity.

Relate said it typically saw a 25 per cent increase in calls after Christmas and that rather than bringing people together, the yuletide season can expose relationship flaws.

Our reporter recalled the ultimate gesture of goodwill to all men – the laying down of arms by soldiers in the First World War for a game of football – and asked why the festive period is rarely a time of peace on earth.

Relate counsellor Christine Northam said for many, Christmas means more deadlines and work.

She said: “It puts us under pressure and makes us react in a more stressed way, and as soon as we start to get stressed our behaviour changes.

“Most of us project our anxieties on to our nearest and dearest and because you’re enclosed, there’s a row.”

And it need not be stress that sparks off disagreements. Sometimes, just spending a long time with those closest to us is enough to cause problems.

Add alcohol to the mix and the problems escalate.

According to research, top of the list of Christmas worries is spending too much money, but making the house look nice, getting kids to behave and giving the correct gift can also increase the strain.

Christine said: “During a period of two weeks at Christmas, people realise the relationship they are having is not as great as they have been deluding themselves.

“We all live life at a fast pace and that stops at Christmas. Sometimes the resentment you have kept under wraps comes bubbling to the surface and to sit around not doing anything very much and starting to drink can be a recipe for disaster.”

December 24, 1964

A shop by Kingston Bridge was demolished after a lorry crashed into it. The building, on the corner of Clarence Street and Thames Street, was ruined when the lorry smashed into a pillar holding up the shop roof.

December 29, 1989

Surbiton’s very own astronaut was in the earliest stages of her spacefaring career 25 years ago. Helen Sharman appeared in a series of ITV documentaries following her and fellow candidates for the title of Britain’s first astronaut.

December 30, 2004 Kingston’s newest Territorial Army unit declared itself operation 10 years ago. The 83rd (London) signal squadron, based at the TA centre in Portsmouth Road, made its first communication as a signals troop.