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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.”

Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas, BBC2 - TV review

An opportunity to feel satisfied with your festive lot was provided by Tudor Monastery Farm Christmas, a seasonal special of BBC2's living history series, which gave us the lowdown on how a Tudor farmstead would have celebrated. On the one hand, they did get a whole 12 days off work – the luxury! – for a festive period which began on 25 December and extended well into January. On the other hand, the partying was preceded by Advent's four weeks of fasting and back-breaking toil.

The northern lights or aurora borealis near the village of Vik, in southern Iceland.

Road project in Iceland delayed to protect 'hidden' elves

A road project has been stopped until the country's Supreme Court rules on a case to protect elves and the environment

Unlucky for some: 13 notable deaths on Friday the 13th

One theory goes that the composer Rossini's death sparked modern superstition over the date. But he wasn't the only notable figure to die on this mysterious day

Sunbathing by the Thames as the heatwave continues in London and across much of the UK

Heatwave Britain - are we putting our heads in the sand about the weather?

Extreme summers are growing more common, says a top public health body, and it’s time to pay more attention to their hazards

This golden-stag study lamp is a blow-the-budget gift for the desk of a gentleman with a peacocky streak. £720, squintlimited.comsquintlimited.com" width="80" height="60" onclick="location.href='http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/istyle-what-shall-we-get-dad-8638295.html';" class="" />

iStyle: What shall we get Dad?

Forget the usual useless Father’s Day junk, treat your pa to something stylish for his den come June 16th. Kate Burt picks her favourite pieces

Nostalgia, By Jonathan Buckley

Get beyond the vaguer-than-vague title and this is some book: a minor-key masterpiece of restraint, invention and the fine art of keeping expectations deliberately low, then elegantly surpassing them. Nostalgia is set in the fictitious Tuscany town of Castelluccio, home to expat British painter Gideon Westfall, a successful but defiantly unfashionable exponent of neo-Neo-Classicism .

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure

FA Cup final: Yaya Toure eager to maintain momentum at Manchester City

City play Wigan at Wembley on Saturday

Eamon de Buitlear: Film-maker and environmentalist

For anyone who grew up in Ireland from the 1960s to the present, Éamon de Buitléar was a household name. He achieved this status as a chronicler of rural Ireland and what he called "the unofficial countryside" of urban development, through his writings and the natural history programmes he made for Ireland's national broadcaster RTE.

PM is not in Holland, and pro-Europeans may prevail

Inside Westminster: Eurosceptics are never satisfied. If Cameron announced a referendum tomorrow, they'd complain it wasn't yesterday

Haunted: Fiona Shaw and Daniel Hay-Gordon in The Ancient Mariner

IoS theatre review: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Old Vic Tunnels, London
So Great a Crime, Finborough, London
Fiesco, New Diorama, London

Fiona Shaw leads her audience a surprisingly merry dance to Coleridge's bleak epic poem

The Fall of the Stone City, By Ismail Kadare (trs John Hodgson)

Truly, the dinner party from hell

Toots and the Maytals, Concorde 2, Brighton
Jessie Ware, Plan B, London

If ever someone needed to relax, it's Toots

Martin Freeman in 'The Hobbit'

One into three won't go. A Hobbit trilogy is stretching Tolkien a little too far

Is there some kind of law of modern culture that says everything must come in threes? Fifty Shades of Grey, The Dark Knight movies, The Hunger Games books, Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell books, Toy Story, The Matrix… It seems that publishers and film studios would do anything to get a franchise under way, and to tell its audience, as if they were small children, that the characters they liked will be back with more adventures next year…

The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, Edited by Steve Roud and Julia Bishop

Does this expert guide to a musical heritage throw out the mystery along with the myths?

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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story