Sport ‘Mike loves his birds,’ I used to joke but nobody was laughing by the end of the tour

Before The Hangover I and II, before Spike Lee weaved his magic off Broadway in New York and before Mike Tyson was a nice guy, it was my onerous duty to take the big lad up on stage to perform for his fans.

Chris McGrath: Bolger takes New Approach on misguided path as Henrythenavigator sets true course

It is one thing for racehorses to scorn logic. Over time, in fact, they teach us to expect little else. But it is quite another for their masters to be infected with the same aversion.

Small business profile: Running like clockwork

A former computer salesman has helped revive the fortunes of a business from another era. Kate Hilpern reports

Blackburn Tovers 3 Derby County 1: Hughes hitches a ride with Santa Cruz's rising star

It is said a manager has a tendency to shape a team in his own image and for Blackburn that can only be good news. Mark Hughes' side match the hunger and commitment he showed as a player and, crucially, the potency in attack that marked him out as a feared predator at Manchester United, Barcelona and Chelsea. It takes one to know one and Hughes' record when it comes to purchasing strikers is impressive indeed. Last season Benni McCarthy netted 24 goals in his first campaign following a summer move from Porto, this time Roque Santa Cruz has taken on the mantle and needs one more in Rovers' final match at Birmingham to equal that tally.

Cumani seeks Derby encore with Curtain Call

Not even Derby colts can read newspapers, so he was hardly going to succumb to stage fright. And it was hard to imagine what else might prevent Curtain Call beating the only two rivals prepared to stand in his way at Nottingham yesterday. Sure enough, he took his cue readily, without remotely disclosing whether he can justify odds now as short as 6-1 for Epsom.

Glory days act as burden: The Invincibles haunt Forest thirty years on

In 1978 Brian Clough's 'bunch of misfits' took First Division by storm. Now the third-tier team pray for play-off success

Improving Don't Panic can step up to next level

That experienced and erudite observer, John Gosden, pointed out during the week that as much can be gleaned from what a horse does after it passes the winning post as before. He was talking about his own charge, Derby contender Centennial, at Newbury last year and the fact it took Jimmy Fortune a while to anchor the power beneath him once the race was over. Anyone watching Don't Panic at Doncaster three weeks ago would have seen what he meant. The four-year-old had carried Alan Munro past the St Leger start before he started to drop though the gears.

Six children quizzed over web fights

Police arrested six children for allegedly using a social networking website to organise gang fights.

You Write The Reviews: Frankie Boyle, T5 Club, Derby

Regular viewers of Channel 4's Mock the Week tap into a rich vein of humour from some of the sharpest knives in the comedy drawer, including the presenter, Dara O'Briain, Andy Parsons and the young pretender Russell Howard. But one of the keenest blades is Frankie Boyle, the caustic one with the spectacles. So it was with high hopes that I went to see the scathing Scotsman on the Midlands leg of his first national tour.

Households face 4% rise in council tax

Council tax bills are set to rise by around 4 per cent, independent researchers warn.

Birmingham City 1 Derby County 1: Villa pushes Birmingham into the deep end

It tells you everything about the pervasive morbidity of this encounter that we were barely halfway through a goalless first half when the referee felt it necessary to rebuke Marc Edworthy, who was vacillating over a throw-in, for time-wasting.

Train driver hurt in bridge crash

A train driver was seriously injured when he became trapped in his cabin after hitting a footbridge today.

Murtagh takes over Fallon's role at Ballydoyle

Johnny Murtagh was last night confirmed as Kieren Fallon's replacement as the No 1 jockey to the Coolmore operation. The 37-year-old Irishman, currently in Dubai, said: "I'm absolutely delighted with the appointment, and to be riding for John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith."

Russia becomes unlikely human rights guardian

A confident, even swaggering, Russia takes the helm of Europe's foremost human rights body today, ready to deflect accusations that it has failed to live up to the standards set by the institution it will lead for the next six months.

Third World cash exodus 'points to laundering'

Money flowing into UK bank accounts from developing countries has surged in the past few years, dwarfing Britain's official aid budget, figures show.

Wolverhampton W 1 Derby County 1

Boo boys target Wolves as Derby make point
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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
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
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'