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From drunken nights out with a llama to testicle-eating fishes, it’s a mixed bag of stories you’ve been sharing on social media in 2013.

Among the top twenty Independent articles you’ve been tweeting and posting on Facebook this year, there are serious reports, ferocious comment pieces, astounding research and a fair few articles that pay tribute to the adage ‘the truth is stranger than fiction.’

a stranger in paradise

Last week, 13-year-old child bride Sarah Cook embraced life in a Muslim culture. Here, Elizabeth Parker remembers the day she fell foul of Islamic law

OBITUARY: Professor Sir Edmund Happold

Ted Happold was an unusual figure in the construction world: an engineer's architect and an architect's engineer. "A world which sees art and engineering as divided is not seeing the world as a whole," he wrote.

Leading Article: Shifting sands in Saudi Arabia

It is impossible to understate the centrality of Saudi Arabia to the stability of the Middle East. So Western countries should be relieved at the temporary handover of power in Saudi Arabia to Crown Prince Abdullah. Given fears for the health of King Fahd and a possible succession crisis, the change spells stability. The Crown Prince has been number two in the government, and although thought to be more conservative than his half- brother he is expected to carry on with business as usual.

Popeye comes on too strong

Kuwait City (AFP) - The children's favourites, Tom and Jerry, and Popeye, are under attack from Islamists who have come up with their own Islamic version to combat the "devilish" influence of such cartoon capers.

Kashmiris lose contact with Britons' kidnappers

Kashmiri officials yesterday admitted that they have lost contact with the separatists holding hostage two Britons and three other Western tourists bringing negotiations for their release to a halt.

Schools forced to close for Eid

HEAD teachers in one of Britain's most racially tense areas are up in arms because their local authority has ordered them to close their schools for the Muslim festival of Eid.

Fear and loathing in Southall

The streets of a west London suburb were a 'Mecca' for British Asians, where communities co-existed peacefully. Now conflict between young Muslims and Sikhs is threatening to wreck relations. Yasmin Alibhai- Brown investigates

Libyans free to travel to Mecca

Libyans free to travel to Mecca

Dear Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson is to make a pilgrimage to Mecca with Muhammad Ali. A Muslim publisher and translator offers some words of advice to the convert

Our friends the Saudis

The Aitken affair could damage a long and profitable relationship. There is more than arms at stake. By Michael Sheridan

LETTER: Permission to lift Khomeini's `fatwa'

From Mr Hazhir Teimourian

Pitted against the best

THE MONDAY INTERVIEW Nicola Foulston

NUMBERS Today is the 24th of March.

Until 1752, when the year lost 11 days through transition from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, 24 March was the last day of the year in England.

Saudi Islamists plan protest vigil

Militant Islamic activists have issued an unprecedented call for co-ordinated demonstrations after weekly prayers today at mosques in the Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Hail, in a challenge to the Saudi royal family. The call coincided with a visit to the kingdom by the US Defense Secretary, William Perry, on a one-week tour of the Gulf to bolster US "security strategy" .

Saudi rulers learn to live with fewer millions

Michael Sheridan, in the second of three articles on the kingdom, reports that change is harder to keep at bay when wealth is limited The rule of 6,000 princes is insured by prodigal generosity to their subjects
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
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The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
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Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
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Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
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Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
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Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
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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 17 April 2015
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own