India's Sahara close to Man Utd shirt deal

India's Sahara Group is in advanced talks with Manchester United to become the new shirt sponsors of the Premiership champions, domestic media reported today.

Now, the sound of spring is at risk

The cuckoo joins the Red List of Britain's most endangered species as migrating birds vanish from our shores

Pavlova wars: New Zealand reclaims its national dessert

Prime Minister irritated by Australia's culinary thievery

Cinema Ouagadougou: The home of African film

Forget Cannes, Venice and Berlin – if you're passionate about film, Burkina Faso is the place to go, writes Katrina Manson

Musical warriors: The Tuareg

Perhaps the purest exponents of desert blues are Tinariwen. The band’s backstory is the stuff of legend – members of the loose collective fought in the Mali Civil War during the Nineties, and tales of the Tuareg musicians going into battle with both Kalashnikovs and guitars slung over their backs are legion. Their sound is unique – layered guitars interweaving with call and response vocals, handclaps and female throat singers.

Manchester United seek Indian shirt sponsor

Giant Indian corporation Sahara have been approached about the possibility of becoming Manchester United's next shirt sponsor.

Equestrianism: Whitaker sets show on fire in Pudding Stakes

Robert Whitaker's attempt to repeat last year's achievement in becoming leading rider of the London International Horse Show at Olympia got off to a fine start yesterday when he won the KBIS Christmas Pudding Speed Stakes on Rusedski II.

Minor British Institutions: Rock cakes

Like one or two other of our small but much loved institutions, the rock cake seems to have crumbled away a little lately, almost unnoticed. It does seems a long time since they were a common sight, now supplanted perhaps by those US-style muffins that landed in the mid-Eighties.

Paperbacks: Pathfinders, by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Stretching, reaching, stirring, springing, vaulting, girdling... The chapter headings of this epic history of exploration suggest that voyaging into the unknown is a fundamental human activity.

Paperbacks: Gold Dust, by Ibrahim al-Koni

Imagine Cormac McCarthy's savage lyricism in a Paul Bowles desert landscape and you begin to enter the bleakly beautiful world of this mesmerising, fable-like novel. Libya's Al-Koni draws on the lore of the Sahara's Tuareg nomads in this tragedy of rebellion and revenge. Rejecting his noble clan, Ukhayyad prefers the company of his pedigree camel: a royal beast, splendidly evoked in Elliott Colla's radiant translation. Yet a war and a wedding drag the lad out of myth and into history. Trade ousts honour, and gold seals his doom.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: This confrontation is a calamity for the capital

We could call it the "Bonfire of the Vanities", but that literary cliché feels glib for what is happening in the Metropolitan Police today. Two responsible, mature men, holding the most critical jobs in the capital, upon whose judgements and actions millions depend, bust up in public. We are witnessing scenes more poisonous than the McCartney/Mills divorce as the men get sucked up in a vortex of fury.

Zuppa Inglese

Serves 8

Blackcurrant sorbet

Makes about 1 litre

In the Red: For a thriving social life on the cheap, there's no place like home

Looking over my bank statements, I couldn't quite figure out what had happened. Where had my money gone? I'd been so well behaved, what with limiting my cash withdrawals, taking my own lunch in to work and buying things second-hand. But still I was broke. Again.

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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
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried