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The Miles Davis standard “So What” has been a modal jazz touchstone for 55 years, providing the harmonic canvas for myriad improvisations and reinterpretations.

A Short History of England, By Simon Jenkins

Concision necessitates truncation. Tackling the same theme, Peter Ackroyd goes back 900,000 years, though he has the luxury of six projected volumes to tell the national story. Jenkins starts around 500 AD, when Angles arrived "from the 'angle' of Germany in Schleswig-Holstein, lending their name to East Anglia and eventually to England itself." Within 30 pages, he has raced through Augustine, Alfred, Cnut and William's surprisingly dicey invasion to the death of the Conqueror, where he inserts a spot of pungent colour from a contemporary source: "The swollen bowels burst and an intolerable stench assailed the nostrils of bystanders."

Emily Jupp: Paraphernalia makes death an expensive business

I've been thinking a lot about death lately. Not in a morbid, metaphysical way. More in a practical way. It just seems to cost so much. Like the wedding industry, the funeral industry is an expensive business, inflated by unnecessary pomp and circumstance. The most recent estimate says it rakes in £1.5bn each year. Like taxes, of course, it's something we'll all have to pay for, sooner or later. But what's the point? Isn't spending loads on your funeral just like planning a massive party that you don't even get to attend?

The Labour Conference Diary: David Miliband anxious to sing from the same hymn sheet

As the camera scans the audience during Ed Miliband's big speech this afternoon, one face it will not alight on is David Miliband's. Aware of the damage it could cause if he were to be caught with one facial muscle out of place, the leader's elder brother high-tailed it out of Manchester yesterday.

David Blunkett on why our political class are despised

As the Labour Party conference gets underway, former Home and Education Secretary David Blunkett has issued a stark warning in today's Daily Mail about the decline in trust towards the political class. His analysis is not so far off that off Independent founder Andreas Whittam Smith, whose response was Democracy2015.

Mohamed Sajid (left) and Qamar Shazad (right) were convicted in May of being part of a child sex ring in Rochdale, which they ran from the Balti Curry house

Child sex abuse ‘widespread in UK’ – not just in Asian areas

A two-year inquiry into the sexual exploitation of children is set to reveal abuse across the country

Megan Stammers' tweets to teacher

With no sign of runaway pair Megan Stammers and 30-year-old maths teacher Jeremy Forrest, online trails are under scrutiny. Byrony Gordon of The Daily Telegraph picks up signs of contact on Twitter.

Alison Williamson in the Beijing Games where she narrowly missed out on a bronze medal

Archer Alison Williamson sets sights on glory in latest chapter of amazing tale

Shropshire's finest has hit 40 and taken part in six Games but she is still hungry for gold, she tells Simon Turnbull

Neanderthal man's 'life of domesticity'

Neanderthal man may have preferred domestic chores to a rugged hunter-gatherer lifestyle, researchers have said.

Military veterans parade during an Independence day ceremony in Juba yesterday

South Sudan independence celebrations marred by threat of war

Military veterans parade during an Independence day ceremony in Juba yesterday while tens of thousands gathered under a sweltering sun to celebrate the first birthday of the world's youngest nation – an event marred by dire economic hardships and a near-constant threat of war.

Album: Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, Hidden People (Navigator)

Husband-and-wife team Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman have many associations with the folk scene, notably with Lakeman's brother Seth and Roberts' fellow South Yorkshire siren Kate Rusby.

Hamleys releases its list of predicted top-selling Christmas gifts

Children will be pretending to be Mods, poking virtual monsters in the eye and boxing their family this Christmas, according to one of the world's largest toy shops.

Out of bounds! Caddie caught hiding extra club in bush

Jose Manuel Lara has been disqualified from the BMW International Open in Cologne after his caddie tried to hide the fact that the Spaniard began the event with an extra club in his bag.

Relief at Spanish bailout likely to boost markets

Politicians, shareholders, traders and consumers across the world will have their eyes trained on the markets today, in the hope that Spain's request for a €100bn banking bailout over the weekend will restore credibility to the country's banks and boost shares in the UK, Europe, the US and Asia.

Acting editor of The Archers moves to reassure fans after fears it will become more like Eastenders

The Archers will not become more like EastEnders, the acting editor of the world’s oldest soap opera has promised, after backtracking on comments which provoked concern from listeners.

Pep Guardiola: Victory tonight will give the departing coach his 14th trophy since 2008

Barça hope to give Guardiola an emotional send-off

Pep Guardiola's glorious reign as Barcelona manager will end tonight with the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid. Victory would mean Guardiola ending his four-year tenure at the Nou Camp with his 14th trophy – the perfect end to the best spell at a European club side for a generation. This date has been marked since, one month ago, the former Barça midfielder announced he would step down.

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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
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
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home