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.”
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Sunday 03 October 2010
Alexandros Papadiamantis, regarded as the father of modern Greek literature, first published this remarkable novella in 1902. Set on the island of Skiathos, where the author spent much of his life, it tells the story of Hadoula, a middle-aged healer.
Wednesday 01 September 2010
Vuvuzelas have been kicked out of European competition after UEFA said that the plastic trumpets drowned out supporters and detracted from the emotion of the game.
Friday 02 July 2010
Dmitry Bykov's ambitious and sprawling book (abridged in English with the author's consent) caused a furore in Russia when published in 2006. Blending a novel of ideas with a fairy-tale and satire with lyricism, Bykov in Living Souls gives a picture of Russia in the near future and - as so many others before him - tries to understand the eternal contradictions of his country.
Thursday 25 March 2010
The Burnley manager Brian Laws has called on his players to beat the odds and make Premier League history this season. The Clarets are in a perilous position after claiming a meagre four points from a possible 33 since Laws took the helm, yet they remain only three points adrift of safety.
Monday 15 March 2010
Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical, Love Never Dies, a sequel to Phantom of the Opera, opened in London last week. The original Phantom opened in 1986, and since then an enormous phenomenon has transformed our lives: the internet. In 1986, strange to say, if you wanted to find out what a theatre production was like, you read a critic's view, or you called a theatre-going friend and asked what he thought about it.
Friday 19 February 2010
Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United, has been open for 100 years.
Tuesday 16 February 2010
Old Trafford celebrates its 100th birthday tomorrow, its place in the folklore of British sport firmly established in a century when it has become the most famous landmark in Manchester.
Sunday 14 February 2010
"I put my cock on the block and I guess it paid off." So Ryan Jones gave this most jaw-dropping of finishes the jaw-dropping quote it deserved. The Wales captain elected to go for the three points with seconds left on the clock and the score at 24-21 to Scotland. Everyone watching thought that the overwhelming favourites had been forced to accept the draw. They had not.
Sandy Paton: Traditional singer who helped lead the Sixties folk revival in Britain and the United States
Saturday 17 October 2009
In 1962 in the Western States Folklore Society's journal Western Folklore the critic John Greenaway declared Sandy Paton to be "the best interpreter of traditional singing in the English-speaking world, with the possible but not probable exception of Ewan MacColl." The American folklorist, folksinger and Folk-Legacy founder's dedication to traditional music played a vital role in the post-war upswing of folk music in both North America and Britain.
Saturday 12 September 2009
Friday 17 July 2009
The sheer verbal sorcery of WG Sebald's The Rings of Saturn bewitches me. He brilliantly describes a walking tour of East Anglia, etching the effects of class war, nationalistic conflict, genocide, exploitation and loss. Everywhere is an opening to hell. His wonderful, unexpected narrative teaches us about the desolation and terrors of modern life, his vision akin to classical tragedy.
Monday 06 April 2009
In August 2007 Archie Green received the Library of Congress's Living Legend Award. It has been conferred on individuals such as Madeleine Albright, B.B. King, Alan Lomax, Martin Scorsese, Pete Seeger and Tiger Woods who have made a significant contribution to American life. Explaining how he had earned the honour, James H. Billington said, "Archie Green has devoted his life to studying the creativity of ordinary, working Americans, and he was also one of the most significant figures behind the formation of the Library's American Folklife Center." The musicologist, folklorist and staunch unionist is credited with coining the neologism for his particular field of interest: "laborlore" or the folklore and folkways of workers and working-class communities.
Tuesday 23 December 2008
Where would our imaginative lives be without boars? Hercules hunted the Erymanthian beast during his 12 labours; Odysseus was mauled by one when out hunting. In Celtic folklore, Finn McCool lured a rival to his death on a boar hunt. And, of course, fans of Asterix the Gaul know the stories would not be the same without Obelix's inexhaustible appetite for the roast variety.
Saturday 20 December 2008
Unlike so many of our Christmas traditions, mince pies are not a Victorian invention but can boast a genuinely medieval origin, and indeed some say they can trace their lineage back to pagan festivities. Mince pies were first baked with minced meat (hence the name) and the fruit and spices that we associate with them today. According to folklore, they were first made in oblong casings to represent Jesus's crib, with three spices, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, to represent the three gifts given to the infant Christ by the three wise men. But in 1644, that old killjoy Oliver Cromwell went so far as to denounce mince pies as "abominable and idolatrous things to be avoided by Christians".
Friday 31 October 2008
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 3 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27