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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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Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen