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South Shields

After Paolo Di Canio fiasco, what now for once proud Sunderland?

At 8.30am on 13 July, the colliery bands of Durham began their march towards the city's market place. The miners' banners went with them, signposts to the past, a visible display of pride in the region's history. From there followed a slow march towards the County Hotel on Old Elvet. The bands played, the march went on to the racecourse, and the banners were strapped to the surrounding fences.

Diary: The girl with the star role

So we now have the first pictures of 25-year-old Rooney Mara in the role of the year: the goth bisexual computer hacker Lisbeth Salander, in David Fincher's English-language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The accompanying interview in W magazine does not, I'm afraid, dispel troubling rumours that the stars, Mara and Daniel Craig, will be "doing" Swedish accents in the film. However, Fincher does reveal the names of some of the others who auditioned for the role at a time when any actress seen to have cut her hair was said to be desperate to land it (viz Carey Mulligan, Emma Watson). Natalie Portman, he explains, was too exhausted after shooting three other films back-to-back. Scarlett Johansson was "too sexy". Jennifer Lawrence was "too tall". Mara's winning moment came when she screen-tested a graphic scene, which required her to insert something large into something small belonging to another character. "That's Salander's big scene," said Fincher. "We had to see if they could do it."

Sunderland sign Miliband to boost club's 'street cred'

Steve Bruce has had a tentative inquiry for England midfielder Stewart Downing rebuffed by Aston Villa, but is preparing to welcome another left winger to the Stadium of Light as David Miliband is set to join the club in a £50,000-a-year non-executive role following talks with chairman Niall Quinn.

Diary: Bigmouth strikes again

Slight stand-up Simon Amstell has again turned his lashing tongue to the abuse of a music-based national treasure.

More headlines

Wild Flower Society: Floral fixation

While twitchers are dedicated to spotting birds, the Wild Flower Society, founded in 1886, is just as obsessed with sighting rare blooms. Peter Marren meets them

Matthew Norman: Liz Jones, poster girl for Big Society

In the most startling reinvention this industry has known in decades, the Daily Mail shrugs off its reactionary stereotype to host an intriguingly hybrid social experiment. The pit canary here is the magnificently prolific Liz Jones, who single-handedly spearheads two major breakthroughs – the first recorded case of Mr Cameron's Big Society in action, and the inaugural deployment of a newspaper column as care in the community. As many of you will know, Liz likes to keep the readership minutely informed of life, latterly dwelling on the £150,000 debt she says has depressed her even more than her rejection by the Somerset neighbours who took mystifying umbrage at being depicted as toothless imbeciles. "Being in debt," wrote Liz, "is worse than anything I have experienced." Given what Liz has experienced – and short of alien abduction, bless her, what has she not? – that's going some. "When you have no money people assume it's because you are lazy or profligate." The rank injustice. The very idea that a woman who spent £26,000 on a bat sanctuary, and lavishes more than £1,000 a year on mineral water, tends towards the wasteful!