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

Johanna Konta: The Briton, born in Sydney, has reached the second round of qualifying

Investment at Edgbaston pays off with tournament earning premier status

Pre-Wimbledon event gains star appeal as Britons progress at Melbourne qualifying

Lionel Messi poised for fourth Ballon D'Or

Award is handed out tonight, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta the other contenders

Terence Blacker: Why is it so hard to say goodbye?

For reasons no one quite understands, film directors have lost the knack of the satisfactory ending. Films tend to continue well after their natural ending, according to the actor Samuel L Jackson, who cites Spielberg's latest, Lincoln. Some meander, others go off in a new direction, or close with modish, irritating ambiguity. Ben Affleck, another Hollywood man, has blamed the need to pitch film ideas. "The thing about a pitch is that it does a great job figuring out the first and second acts, but no one ever sits down and works out the third act."

Mo Farah crossing the finishing line to win gold in the 5,000m final

Farewell 2012, the year Britain found its confidence

We may not have known it, but we are a confident nation

Christian Benteke

Premier League: Swansea v Aston Villa match preview

A look ahead to this week's Premier League fixture at the Liberty Stadium

Michael Clarke celebrates reaching his century at the MCG yesterday

Michael Clarke eclipses Ricky Ponting's record for runs in a year

Michael Clarke's inspired century at the Melbourne Cricket Ground today ticked off another milestone for Australia's high-flying captain but was also a stunning riposte to critics who had suggested he should never have been selected.

Wasps’ No 8 Billy Vunipola goes on the charge during the win over Sale at Adams Park yesterday
The end of the world didn’t materialise and many were left with egg – or other objects – on their faces

11.12am came... and went. Oh well, it's not the end of the world

Everyone from nervous, hasty converts to tin-foiled pilgrims looking for room in a mountain were left somewhat wanting, says Peter Popham

Suzi Perry

Suzi Perry replaces Jake Humphrey as BBC's Formula One presenter

BBC will not be showing the Monaco Grand Prix next season

Armageddon flop: After all that fuss it really wasn't the end of the world

Events organised across the planet for people to either gather for the oncoming Armageddon or to celebrate together the continuance of the human race

The Queen sits among members of the Cabinet today, flanked by David Cameron and Nick Clegg

If the world is going to end on Friday, good thing HM the Queen has started on her ‘bucket list’

First up a meeting with the Cabinet, but what comes next?

Indigenous Mayan people at a ceremony outside Guatemala City

What have the Mayans ever done for us... apart from predict the end of the world?

Tim Walker on the constructive side of the prophets of doom

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi agrees new Barcelona deal

Argentina international extends deal until 2018

Terence Blacker: Christmas cards are an empty ritual

Dear Once-a-Year Friend, I am writing to tell you of a change to our normal Christmas arrangements. This year, we (as I like to call myself on occasions like this) shall not be sending out Christmas cards to you or our other once-a-year friends.

Rafael in action against West Ham

Rafael savouring regular starts for Manchester United

Brazilian feels he has grown in confidence and maturity

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 15 May 2015
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her in Latakia
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report