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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.”

Michael McCarthy: A summer this wet and windy just isn't natural

I once arrived in Finland on May Day. As I walked into my Helsinki hotel, a big Finnish bloke attacked me. Luckily, it was with a balloon. However, the fear flashed through my panicking brain that even though he was not a gunman or a knifeman, merely a balloonman, he still meant to do me harm, and it was with some difficulty that I extricated myself – only to find that everyone in the whole damn city was in the same damn state. They were all pie-eyed. I'd never seen anything like it.

In the footsteps of the yeti: the hunt for Mande Burung

The discovery of two unidentifiable hairs in the far north-east of India has fuelled the belief that the yeti is more than a myth. Andrew Buncombe ventured to the Garo Hills to get to the bottom of the mystery

Ask Martha: How do I get my colleague to change her slovenly ways?

Got a social dilemma? Martha Arthur has the answer...

Life after Ghost: Tanya Sarne is back with a new line in her signature style

When Tanya Sarne, founder of the Ghost label, announced last year that she was launching a new line called handwritten, her legions of fans were delighted. The first collection, created in collaboration with the New York designer Gary Graham, is just as relaxed, pretty and wearer-friendly as might be expected, given the motivating force behind it. Having sold her remaining shares in Ghost to Kevin Stanford and the Icelandic retail investment company Arev, in 2006, Sarne had agreed not to work for a year. By then, while many might have just basked in the glory of past successes – and, it is hoped, considerable means – this irrepressible character had decidedly itchy feet. And that is good news for women the world over.

The English Year: The nation's customs and festivals, from May Day to Mischief Night, By Steve Roud

The origins of our national festivals are both more and less arcane than we had imagined: Mother's Day is as much of an import as Hallowe'en. "Rough Music", the custom of raising hell beneath the windows of malefactors, may have represented mob rule, but at least it was aimed mainly at wife-beaters. Padstow's 'Obby 'Oss is well known, but, if the locals don't watch out, it faces a serious rival in "Darkie Day". This curious relic of the minstrel tradition, so the local MP claimed in 2006, is quite innocent, and the blacked-faces part of "mumming" have nothing to do with racism. A shame the "mummers" sing minstrel songs, then.

Supermarkets discover shoppers hate excess packaging as waste campaign gathers force

Supermarkets have detected considerable annoyance among their customers about excessive packaging, as The Independent's campaign against waste gathers support from politicians and stores.

1898 and all that

Giggs left to feel like an exile on home soil

Manchester United's Welsh marauder finds Old Trafford turning into a theatre of broken dreams

The Dew Breakers by Edwidge Danticat

Close shaves from Haiti to Brooklyn

Open Replay: 18-21 July 1985

Sport as it was: the week Sandy Lyle triumphed at Royal St George's

Hull create folklore by winning with 11 men

Hull 24 Halifax 16

The shock of the snow

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
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Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn