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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.”

Football: Babby should never Kop the blame again

Alan Edge longs for the return of a sadly-missed Anfield tradition

Iona mourns a lost son and three missing victims of boat tragedy

BITING WINDS and unanswered questions lashed the island of Iona in equal measure yesterday as the community buried the first of last week's boating accident victims.

Classical: Madness thy name is Boris

In Francesca Zambello's Boris Godunov at ENO, Russia's past is its present.

Right of Reply; Patricia Morgan

A fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs answers Christine Hardyment's essay on the family

Right of Reply; Michael Right of Reply: Michael Cantlay

The chairman of Hector Russell, a kilt-making firm, replies to Philip Hensher

Vampires just had bad dose of rabies

COUNT DRACULA wasn't a vampire - he had rabies, according to a Spanish doctor who says ancient European legends about the blood-drinking undead were actually descriptions of people with the illness.

King Arthur's sleepless knights

Dramatic and brooding, Tintagel is set on one of the wildest and most savagely romantic coastlines in Britain. The legendary birthplace of King Arthur is saturated in folklore ... gift shops, hordes of visitors and piles of plastic Excaliber swords. What, asks Liverpool poet Brian Patten, would Merlin and the original Knights of the Round Table make of it all if they were around today?

Letter: The point of prayer

THE Bishop of Norwich worries "that we are in grave danger of losing ... the concept of learning prayer by heart" (report, 12 February).

Music: Re-programmed for folk-fusion

Terry Callier

Net Gains: Have you heard the one about...?

In the era of the X Files, conspiracy theories and urban myths abound. But the Internet has taken this paranoia to previously unscaled heights

Friday's book: Black & Blue by Ian Rankin

Last night, in the apt surroundings of the Law Society, Ian Rankin won the coveted Gold Dagger of the Crime Writers Association for his ninth Inspector Rebus mystery, Black & Blue. Now here's one judging panel that knows how to please its patrons. "The aroma of the whisky was fine," muses Rankin's bibulous Edinburgh detective in a typical bar-propping moment, "smoky, filling nostrils and lungs." The CWA awards are sponsored by The Macallan.

Trees: The sacred power of trees

Caroline Allen explores the mythological roots of trees.

Musical review: Swiss cheese: no bite

William Tell Ustinov Studio, Bath

Out of step

When people learn that my stepfather, John Wellings-Longmore (1917- 1982), was a West African, they jump to several false conclusions. They imagine that he must have sparked my great interest in African and West Indian folklore. Not so. My mother remarried in 1953, when I was eleven and my brother Martin ten. At the time, marriages between white and black people in England were rare. My passion for folklore had been stimulated by my mother's interest in the subject: it began when I was four - at most.

Firepower of Jarvis threatens Swansea

Cocksure as they come, Lee Jarvis will today endeavour to reassure his Welsh countrymen of the continued existence of that legendary outside- half factory buried deep in the valleys of the principality, writes Chris Hewett.
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All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition