Sport Juan Mata could go through a Manchester United initiation, but hopefully it won't be anything like David Beckham's

Beckham was forced to perform a sexual act on himself while looking at a picture of former United star Clayton Blackmore whereas in comparison Mata is likely to sing a song

Derek Pain: Essenden's excellent efforts over Christmas have bowled me over

The no pain, no gain portfolio has experienced a near-crescendo of announcements with more than half of the constituents reporting in the past few weeks. Most statements related to trading but a couple involved new funds.

Old people's home recreates famous movie scenes for unforgettable calendar

Pensioners ape 'Rocky', 'Titanic', 'Bond' and more

Flying the flag: revellers at SkiOUT, part of WinterPRIDE on the Whistler slopes

Gay Ski Weeks: A ski sector that is in the pink

Anna Lawlor reports on how resorts are reaching out to a booming market

Getting the hump: camels do battle in front of tens of thousands of spectators

Do the participants of Turkey's annual Camel Wrestling Festival enjoy it as much as the audience?

On Sunday, more than 20,000 people will gather in Turkey to watch camels do battle in a spectacle that dates back thousands of years. It is, depending on your attachment to the ungainly beasts, a historic cultural institution to be celebrated – or a throwback to an era before animal-rights campaigns when it was OK to starve an animal for three months to make it cross.

Nearing the end: January is the beginning of the end for third years, but is that so bad?

They say that in relationships there come several itching points. These are moot: could be two years or five; some even say 18 months. If I’m in a relationship with university – heartbreak, check; crying, check – then we’ve reached one of these hurdles. And the cut-off is not a year or even two, it’s in weeks. Let me introduce the 12-week itch.

Lionel Messi and Antonella Roccuzzo

Romanian and Bulgarian migrants have not flocked to Britain, says EU chief

There is no evidence of any influx of Romanians and Bulgarians travelling to Britain since the lifting of restrictions on workers at the start of the year, the EU’s social affairs chief has said.

Kempton switch favours Garde La Victoire

The Tolworth Hurdle, washed out at Sandown last weekend, has been saved for Kempton today with more or less the original cast of runners, but the sharper Sunbury circuit will provide a different test for some promising novices.

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez claims 'Liverpool can qualify for Champions League'

The Uruguay international has fired the Reds into contention to finish in the top four

Luis Suarez

Experience of working with Luis Suarez 'will last a lifetime' says Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

The Uruguay international has already scored 20 goals this season

Norwich right-back Steven Whittaker tries to shoot past Fulham defender Dan Burn

Norwich City 1 Fulham 1 match report: Norwich denied by ‘Gordon Banks save’

Darren Bent had given Fulham the lead in the 40th minute only for Snodgrass to equalise on the stroke of half-time

January 1st is celebrated as a de facto birthday for thousands of Afghans who don’t know when they were born

Happy birthday to the Afghans who don’t know when they were born

During protracted wars in the 1980s and 1990s, the government didn’t have a system in place to register births

Pirelli celebrates 50 years of its calendar girls with release of lost edition shot by Helmut Newton in 1986

As a previously unpublished edition shot by Helmut Newton for 1986 is released, we reflect on the publication's glamorous history

Prisoners have been banned from receiving Christmas presents from their family and friends under new rules

Chris Grayling branded ‘a Scrooge’ for banning festive parcels for prisoners

The Ministry of Justice has been called ‘mean-spirited’ for the ban

Winter Solstice marks shortest day of the year

Thousands of people joined druids and pagans who gathered together to celebrate the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge, the shortest day and longest night of the year.

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Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?