Sport Alex Rodriguez is said to be involved in the latest drug scandal rocking baseball

Six years after supposedly closing the books on its “steroid era”, baseball is embroiled in a new drug scandal that has already felled one of its top stars, and could end the career of Alex Rodriguez, its highest-paid player.

For the angler with everything: FISHING LINES

All the fishing magazines are full of what to buy for keen anglers this Christmas. So in keeping with giving readers what they want, I have found a few tasteful selections so those who know nothing about the sport can choose a tasteful, practical but original gift.

Murder accused 'psychotic'

A student accused of murdering a stranger in an imagined SAS initiation test was psychotic and showing early signs of schizophrenia at the time of the attack, an Old Bailey jury heard yesterday.

Games: When it pays to keep a very steady hand

ALTHOUGH not recommended for the drinking classes, games requiring a steady hand and keen eyesight are currently in vogue.

Toolbox: Job done sharpish

AN EVOCATIVE photograph, taken early this century, depicts an itinerant knife-sharpener plying his trade in the middle of what is now my home town's busiest crossroads. Closer to the present, I recall reducing the blade of my Boy Scout jack- knife to blobs of molten metal while attempting to sharpen it with a big, fast-turning abrasive wheel.

Will it be a rod, a whip or a pair for Sir Thomas, MP?

TODAY we continue the serialisation of our sizzling Parliamentary novel, 'All-Night Session'] The story so far: Suzanne Smallwood runs the Westminster advisory service for MPs who are having trouble with their marriages, or indeed having trouble with other people's marriages. Today she is talking Sir Thomas Tankerton MP through his marital problems . . .

Scarlet and black: ventriloquist on the edge: Max is no dummy and his mouthpiece takes risks in their cabaret act. James Rampton talked to them

Max is a feisty black cabaret performer resplendent in immaculate dinner-jacket, red bow tie and big Afro hairdo. He tours an unforgiving circuit - working men's clubs, 'gentlemen's evenings' and works dos. In such schools of hard knocks, he has learnt how to put down hecklers. 'Was it a defect at birth?' he asks a persistent offender, before adding: 'Isn't it a shame when two cousins marry?'

GLOSSARY / Tradition? Not just a case of pedigree, chum

CHURCHILL wasn't fooled by the word. 'It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash,' he famously replied when someone objected to proposed reforms on the ground that they were against 'naval tradition'. The remark came to mind when I read the Police Federation's recent advertisement protesting about the Sheehy report. The proposals, it suggested, would 'destroy a whole tradition and culture of service'.

Table Tennis: England landed in sticky situation: National council upholds glue ruling for World Championships

ENGLAND has made a rod for its own back when it competes under its own set of rules in the World Championships which start here today - while every other participating nation uses another.

Letter: Rod, line and carp

Sir: Andrew Brown's claim that 'It was not until the Second World War that people learnt that they could catch carp with a rod and line' is wide of the mark.

Letter: Anglers' old pursuit

Sir: The interview with Chris Yates, author of The Secret Carp, by Andrew Brown ('Carp fisherman hooked on cane rods and semolina', 26 August) coupled with your beautifully serene photograph, will have given pleasure to many.
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick