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.

Cecil battles butterflies but fluent Frankel flies in his final rehearsal

Facing a press conference later in the morning, Henry Cecil played down Frankel's work yesterday as "his final quiet piece" before the first Classic of the season on Saturday. Those who witnessed the young champion's latest detonation, however, would testify that "quiet" was just about the last word to describe the way Frankel once again scalded his lead horse, exploding several lengths clear. His trainer did admit that he has been delighted with Frankel's progress, since resurfacing at Newbury 11 days ago. "I'd be very surprised if he's not a better horse now than he was then," he said. "But we've still four days to go, haven't we?"

200 arts bodies nervously await funding axe

Craig Hassall, the managing director of the English National Ballet (ENB), will spend this morning at his office computer surrounded by his senior team, nervously waiting for an email.

Anti-gay Christian couple lose battle to become foster parents

A Christian couple morally opposed to homosexuality because of their faith lost a landmark High Court battle today over the right to become foster carers.

Campbell dreams of England chance

Blackpool striker D J Campbell retains hopes of an England call-up after scoring eight goals in his club's first season in the Premier League.

First charges brought under 'gay hatred' law

Two men have been charged with stirring up gender hatred for handing out leaflets outside a mosque suggesting that gay people should be executed.

Earnshaw turns screw on Clough

Derby County 0 Nottingham Forest 1

Straw under fire for linking race to sex attacks

Former home secretary says gangs of Pakistani men see young white girls as 'easy meat'

Back in the groove: Record shops taking on the digital age

HMV, Britain's last big music chain, is closing 60 branches. Yet a new wave of CD stores is thriving. Jonathan Brown finds out why

Sex predators jailed for 'reign of terror'

Two "sexual predators" who subjected a series of vulnerable girls to rapes and sexual assaults described by a judge as a "reign of terror" were given indefinite prison sentences today.

Earnshaw and Tudgay haunt Derby

Nottingham Forest 5 Derby County 2

Tarmac plans to axe 550 jobs

Building giant Tarmac is planning to axe 550 jobs and close one of its divisions, blaming "tough" market conditions.

Children to be tested at six for reading ability

Pupils will be given an "MOT" to ensure they can read properly at the age of six, the Education Secretary said today.

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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
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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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'