IT happens every year now – the New Year Honours are published in the Old Year.

Why? Why, this time round, the hurry to tell us that Darcey Bussell, already honoured with the OBE and the CBE, will making a third trip to the Palace, to collect her damehood insignia?

What perhaps matters more is that among those knighted, in this instance “for services to the country”, is Nick Clegg. He opposed Brexit, was dumped by his Sheffield constituents and now tirelessly campaigns for a second referendum.

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A fellow new knight is Edward Troup. A former adviser to arch Brexit remainer Sir Ken Clarke, he now heads a HMRC arm which is reportedly pursuing major donors to the Leave campaign with heavy tax demands.

(And never mind that their input pales beside the £9m of taxpayers’ money spent by the Government pushing for Remain. If any meaningful Brexit is to be achieved it will have to be against almost the full weight of the political elite.) ON the day my piece was published last week arguing that foxhunting’s time had passed, there was a hint that this truth is at last dawning where it might count most – in Number 10.

Theresa May was reported to be considering abandoning the Tory’s manifesto pledge to facilitate a free vote on the return of hunting.

Mrs May has probably realised there is no foreseeable prospect of a pro-hunting vote large enough to justify reversing the 2004 ban. Hopefully she also recognises that the tide of opinion is firmly the other way, making a resumption of hunting, against the social grain, only likely to provoke serious unrest.

But the Countryside Alliance continues to deny this spirit of the age. It insists that the anti-hunting view is class hatred. Very strange is that it fails to draw what seems the obvious conclusion from its boast that support for hunts has increased following the ban. That it is the absence of hunting that has attracted these new supporters, who will withdraw if the fox is again to be chased.

MORE on “country sports”. The woodcock, a beautiful and especially shy bird, prized by shooters, is in decline. The number of breeding males, around 55,000, is down by 30 per cent since 2003.

The bird’s plight has prompted even a leading woodcock shooter, Charles Pinckny, chairman of The Woodcock Trust, to call for a halt on shooting until the number of breeding males doubles. But shouldn’t the woodcock be given protected status? Unlike pheasants, bred for the guns, or grouse, encouraged with special management, the woodcock is much more a truly wild bird.

Its hard battle for survival should be only with nature.

ACCORDING to an impressive 33 “research trials”, Vitamin D supplements provide no protection against bone fractures for people aged over 50. Shame – but I can attest to a different benefit.

Some years ago I began to develop a severe rash around my ankles each autumn.

Suspecting it could be due to lack of sunshine I began taking a daily Vitamin D tablet. No problem since.