News George Osborne is said to have paid £100 an hour to be trained by a Harley Street vocal specialist during his days as shadow Chancellor

George Osborne is said to have paid £100 an hour to be trained by a Harley Street vocal specialist during his days as shadow Chancellor, to help him sound weighty and authoritative. But did he get his money’s worth? After listening to the Chancellor’s speech on Monday, the Labour MP Jamie Reed seemed to think not. He tweeted: “Can someone please reintroduce Osborne to ‘t’ as a consonant? Cos I godda dell ya, that speech made me wanna scream.”

RJB may have to close two mines

Letter: Bank note bridge

Sir: I am afraid that Mr Atkinson is wrong in his letter about the Skerne bridge (letter, 21 December). The bridge on which he played is on the main line, but the one which was taken as a model for that on the pounds 5 note was on the now-abandoned Stockton & Darlington line from the present North Road station to Fighting Cocks.

Letter: `Failing' services

Sir: It is encouraging that Councillor Peter Arnold in his letter of 30 November acknowledges the usefulness of publishing comparative information about social services.

Letter: Unfair tables

Sir: The social services league tables (report, 24 November) pose as many questions as they answer.

Three Dinners

Three dinners are scheduled for the next three months.

Letter: Just the ticket

JANET STREET-PORTER is correct in thinking that bus tickets usually don't need editing. (After the jokes, it's down to the real business of editing, 4 July). However, they do need editing here in Middlesbrough, a town plagued by misspellings of its name. On a bus journey, I happened to glance at my ticket. There was that supernumerary "O" again: "MIDDLESBOROUGH". And perpetrated by a Middlesbrough bus company, to compound the felony.

Rugby Union: Va'a bangs another nail into Hartlepool coffin

West Hartlepool 35 Richmond 36

Budget 1999: Budget Thought for the Day

"Forty thousand pounds a year is a moderate income -

Letter: Millennium cards

Sir: I hope Hugh Rogers' friends have noted that he is not sending millennium cards on 1 January 2000 (letter, 6 January) and has thereby counted himself out of party invitations. Away with such pedantry! Life is for living, and is fragile enough without allowing mathematical fundamentalists to intimidate us out of our generally accepted usages.

Football: Problem pitch threatens Darlington hopes

DARLINGTON'S money-spinning FA Cup second-round tie against Manchester City could be called off because the Feethams pitch has been branded as dangerous, writes Alan Nixon.

Letter: Goats in peril

Sir: Your recent article entitled "Moorland scarred by tracks for shooting" (28 September) concerned the Northumberland National Park, where there is a herd of feral goats. This herd, generally known as the College Valley group, has a history that illustrates only too well the plight of our national native breed of goat - the British native goat.

North-south divide lives on

THE NORTH-SOUTH divide refuses to die away, according to a new survey on lifestyle habits in the UK.

Letter: Mitfords at home

MITFORD Hall, in Northumberland, was not the house "immortalised in Jessica [Mitford's] Hons and Rebels" ("Talk of the Toon", 21 March). The relevant house in her book was the newly built one at Swinbrook, near Burford, Oxfordshire.

Letter: Angelic challenge

HOW long will it be, I wonder, before an attempt is made to climb the Angel of the North? Will the wings end up being painted in the black and white stripes of Newcastle or the red and white of Sunderland? It seems an awfully inviting challenge.

You might think this Roman is stark raving mad. But no. It's New Year's Day, the whole world over

First wave: An Italian dives into the Tiber from Rome's Cavour Bridge (top) and bather flee the sea at Scheveningen beach in The
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape