Life and Style

For all the cuddly Thomas the Tank Engine nostalgia that surrounds Britain's railway history, it should never be forgotten that this was the story of capitalism in the raw. In the 19th century, fortunes were made but more typically lost and the winners were only too keen to signal their grand ambitions to the world.

Salvatore Calabrese who has claimed to have set a new record for the most expensive cocktail in the world at Salvatoreís at Playboy Club London

Fancy a Friday tipple? Master Mixologist creates world's most expensive cocktail

'Salvatore's Legacy', which is made using ingredients dating back to before American independence and the French Revolution, will set you back a pricey £5,500 per glass.

Andy Mil, Great Britain's World Class Bartender of the year: 'I love the simplicity of a martini. You can end up with a million different drinks'

My life in food: Andy Mil, bartender

'I love the simplicity of a martini. you can end up with a million different drinks'

Teenager downs nitrogen drink, nearly dies

Turning eighteen is a rite of passage that invites adventurous drinking, but one teenager had surgeons to thank she saw the day through, after downing a -320 Farenheit liquid nitrogen cocktail and having her stomach removed. The Telegraph reports.

Liquid nitrogen has become an increasingly popular method of instantly freezing food and drinks

Teenage girl has stomach removed after drinking liquid nitrogen cocktail while celebrating her 18th birthday

Gaby Scanlon was celebrating her 18th birthday with friends when she drank a liquid nitrogen and champagne based cocktail known as a ‘Pornstar Martini’

Michael McIntyre, The O2, London

If there had been a spot for stand-up in the London 2012 closing ceremonies, it would surely have gone to Michael McIntyre.

Also showing: Keith Lemon: The Film and Petit Nicolas

Keith Lemon: The Film (85 mins, 15)

Romahome comes into its own on the campsite

Romahome R20 Hi

A fun little home from home. Just remember the gas...

Shoplifter's red-hot surprise

A man has been jailed for 14 weeks after stealing chilli peppers.

Tiffany Stevenson: Uncomfortably Numb, Underbelly, Edinburgh

Youth-preserving tips from a dermatologist inspired this latest hour from Tiffany Stevenson, known to television audiences from a stint on ITV’s ‘Show Me The Funny’ comedy competition.

Walking tour: Monmouth Bridge is the starting point for a 40-mile trek to the town of Hay-on-Wye

Kate Humble: A proper holiday? It's a lovely walk on a sunny day near home

What is the definition of a holiday? Does a proper, bona fide holiday need to involve suitcases, new outfits and a trip to Boots for sun cream? Do you have to go away from home and, if so, for how long? Unsure, I looked it up in the dictionary: "A day of festivity or recreation when no work is done."

Young Tory: Joe Cooke, ex-president of the Oxford University Conservative Club

Harriet Walker on TV: Wonderland: Young, Bright and on the Right

Inside the tiresome world of student politics, delusions of grandeur run riot

Full of beans: expensive coffees have become an 'essential' in many people's lives

Alice Jones: Hold the artisanal coffee. I'll put the kettle on

It is a good time to bury bad news so it is just possible that, in the midst of the gold rush, you may have missed the news that the apocalypse is upon us. Citizens, gird your loins, man the barricades and make a witty placard: the attack of Tescobucks is upon us! This week, Britain's most ubiquitous supermarket chain (2,975 shops and counting) announced its plans to launch a chain of "artisan" coffee shops across the UK. The chain, named Harris and Hoole after two coffee-house wits who feature in Samuel Pepys' diaries (it's arty and artisan), will open its flagship in Amersham at the end of the month. A dozen or so will follow and, before long, the entire nation will be being drip-fed chai lattes and bran muffins by baristas in felt aprons while leaning artfully on scrubbed wood stools.

Mexico: Ancient chocolate found on plate

Archaeologists say they have found traces of 2,500-year-old chocolate on a plate in the Yucatan peninsula, in a breakthrough suggesting it may have been used as a sauce with solid food.

Will Cameron's business Olympics clear the economic hurdles?

The PM wants the nation to cash in on the Games but, says Mark Leftly, the credit crunch may have spoiled its chances

Reform Social and Grill, Mandeville Hotel, Mandeville Place, London W1

Did you think that gentleman's-club dining – Brown Windsor soup, game-heavy main courses, "savoury puddings" like Welsh rarebit, a "roast" that's carved, table-side, from a carcass on a silver trolley by a chap who expects a tip – had gone the way of the bowler hat and the maiden aunt? You'd be wrong. While Jeremy King and Chris Corbin are reintroducing the Mitteleuropean grand café concept to London (with the Wolseley, the Delaunay and now Brasserie Zédel) others – from Mike Robinson to Mark Hix – are breathing life into traditional club grub.

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
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James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
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Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
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Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
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The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
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The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
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Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
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Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
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Day In a Page

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