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Revelling in the latest growth figures, George Osborne lifted Balls-baiting to a new plane. He was asked an unusually long list of super-friendly questions by euphoric Tory backbenchers. Ones that in the secret dreams of the MPs involved, invite the answer: “Yes. My honourable friend has absolutely hit the nail on the head with that spiffing question correctly mentioning our long-term economic plan, allowing me to lay into the Opposition, and qualifying him for early promotion.”

Woman jailed after torturing 15-year-old boy by forcing him to lick up his blood and drink his own urine

A woman who tortured a teenage boy by making him drink his own urine and lick up his blood has been sentenced to four years in prison.

The Rev Reginald Dean today

110 not out! Britain's oldest man

Emily Dugan meets Reverend Reginald Dean and hears him lament the decline of cricket

Norwich manager Chris Hughton hopes to upset his old club Spurs

Stoke are role models for aspiring teams says Norwich manager Chris Hughton

Norwich manager Chris Hughton insists Stoke are the perfect role model for any aspiring top-flight team like his own.

Council leader Mohammed Pervez

A year at the sharp end: How Stoke was cut to shreds

With one in four on benefits and a community relying on its council, how would a £36m spending cut work? David Nath spent a year in a place where the Big Society is still just an idea

Branston Pickle will be sold to a Japanese firm in a deal worth £92.5 million

The £90m pickle: Branston sold to Japan firm

One of the nation's favourite sandwich fillers, Branston Pickle, is to be sold to a Japanese firm in a deal worth £92.5 million.

Queen Mary’s will be taken over by a mental health foundation trust, Oxleas, and land sold off to pay the debts

One NHS trust in five is in bad financial trouble – and Department of Health is failing to plan for bankruptcies

Only urgent, radical action will prevent failures, warns Public Accounts Committee

An illustration of HS2

£1.3bn for those living on high-speed rail route is 'attempt to buy off critics'

Opponents of high-speed link between London and Birmingham condemn new compensation deal

Swedish Lapland Reindeer: 'neither like chicken, nor as gamey as I had imagined – there were hints, but only that'

On The Menu: Swedish Lapland reindeer; Llama snacks; Time Out's Eating & Drinking Awards; Qcumber; Vinoteca

This week I've been eating... Swedish Lapland reindeer

An illustration of HS2

Government promises a top-up for HS2 compensation payouts

Compensation measures for residents affected by the London-Birmingham HS2 high-speed rail project will go “significantly beyond statutory requirements”, the Government promised today.

Victory for families as dead Iraq soldiers' relatives told they can sue Government for negligence

The families of soldiers killed fighting in Iraq can now claim for damages for negligence against the Government, senior judges said in a 'landmark' ruling today.

A view of the facilities at St George's Park

An Oxbridge of football, for coaches rather than players

Over £100m has been spent on St George's Park but, Sam Wallace finds, the academy is about developing coaches, not players

England can have no more excuses for international failure

England skipper Steven Gerrard has admitted there will be no more excuses for national failure following the move into St George's Park.

The Potter's Hand By AN Wilson

An epic novel of the Wedgwood dynasty reveals the hearts of all but one man: Josiah himself

Dressage superstar Lee Pearson one step closer to being crowned Team GB’s greatest ever Paralympian

Dressage superstar Lee Pearson is one step closer to being crowned Great Britain’s greatest ever Paralympian after finishing top of his class in the Team test at Greenwich – but only just after what he dubbed a “rider error”.

<p>1. Legoland, Berkshire </p>
<p>Adult £44.40, child £35.40, legoland.co.uk</p>
<p>Legoland boasts 150 acres of parkland and 50-plus rides and attractions. Don't miss the Lego Star Wars Miniland Experience.</p>

The 10 Best theme parks

Hold on tight!

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
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Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
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Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

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Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
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Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
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Say it with... lyrics

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Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
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The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
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Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

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Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

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