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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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War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?