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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.”

View from City Road: Stein's spirit haunts gamble

Fifteen years after its ignominious exit from casinos Ladbroke looks set, Gaming Board permitting, to take its place at the croupier's table once again. It is tempting to take the deal as a sign that, although he may have left the board, Cyril Stein's spirit lives on. What better way for Peter George, chief executive, to thank his mentor than to take the company back to its gambling roots?

Playboy for today

Now accepted as a tragi-comic masterpiece, the first performance of JM Synge's Playboy of the Western World sparked off a week of rioting at Dublin's Abbey Theatre in 1907.

Obituary: Sergia da Silva Chagas

SERGIA da SILVA CHAGAS, better known as Dada, was one of the last survivors of the cangaceiros, the bandits of the Brazilian north-east immortalised in Joao Guimaraes Rosa's novel Grande Sertao: Veredas and Glauber Rocha'a 1970s cult film Antonio das Mortes.

Obituary: Micho Russell

Michael (Micho) Russell, musician; born 1915; died Kilcolgan, Co Galway 20 February 1994.

BOOK REVIEW / Twisting a wolf's tale: 'The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood' - Jack Zipes: Routledge, 13.99

In this book Jack Zipes collects some 35 versions of Little Red Riding Hood, from 1697 to the present day, and up to a point they all have the doomed inevitability of myth. Time after time the little girl sets out for her grandmother's, the little girl meets the wolf, the little girl talks to the wolf, the wolf gets to the grandmother's, eats the grandmother and gets into bed, the girl arrives, the rhetoric begins, the climax - 'What big teeth you have, Grandmother]' - hovers within their grasp. And then what? Well, the wolf kills the girl. Or is stopped from killing her by another man, or rapes the girl, or is killed by the girl, or becomes her lover, or becomes the girl. Was any other fairy-tale ever so uncertain about its ending?

The case of the curved cucumber: Bureaucrats are exposing EC folklore as plain silly, writes Leonard Doyle

DESPITE persistent reports to the contrary, the European Community is not trying to force fishermen to wear hair- nets, nor is it insisting that trawlers always carry a supply of condoms.

BOOK REVIEW / A lay saint of unbelonging: 'Genet' - Edmund White: Chatto & Windus, 25 pounds - Michele Roberts on Jean Genet, outsider, traitor, thief - and genius

DURING HIS lifetime Genet was dubbed bastard, thief, pervert, revolutionary, saint. Since his death in 1986, the myths have gathered round him, rubbing off his rough edges, plastering over the cracks in his legend's facade, reducing him to either sanctity or villainy. So this biography comes as a corrective. Avoiding the traps so many other biographers fall into, hagiography at one extreme and sadistic iconoclasm at the other, White restores the image of Genet not to some original pristine condition but to something more interestingly flawed.

Letter: May Day - there's been a hijacking

Sir: Margaret Maxwell's comment ('Why not scrap the weekend as well?', 2 April) that May Day 'has only shallow roots' compared with Victorian bank holidays shows shocking ignorance of our cultural history.

BOOK REVIEW / The sad story of a giant in love with a nymph: The first life of Adamastor - Andre Brink: Secker & Warburg, pounds 7.99

ACCORDING to 16th-century legend, Adamastor began as a Titan and ended up as the Cape of Good Hope. Naturally, Europeans planted their mythical beings on distant soil, just as they projected them on to the stars. But what if there were more to it than that? What if, as Andre Brink asks in his new novel, the tale was also inspired by an indigenous prototype, a native Adamastor?

Who's who in the royal pecking order

JAPANESE working practices have not yet penetrated the Queen's Household. Only senior figures in the hierarchy, known as Members, are allowed to eat in the Household dining room, where they are served by liveried footmen.

THEATRE / Bodies and souls: Joseph Farrell on Unidentified Human Remains . . . at the Traverse, Edinburgh

STRANGELY for a play in which undressed bodies are so much on display, it is the disembodied voice, emerging from the shadows or carried between the bleeps of an answering machine, which makes the deepest, most disturbing impact in Brad Fraser's snappily titled Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love.

Weekend work: Cuttings: Arboreal matters

TREE enthusiasts of all kinds, tree seed collectors in Scotland, woodsmen in the Lake District, coppicers, conservationists and folklorists all have their say in an eight-part series, Spirit of Trees, which starts next Friday on Channel 4 at 9pm.

A loyalist killer known as King Rat has entered Northern Ireland's grim folklore. David McKittrick reports

AS SOON as it was broadcast on Monday that an elderly Catholic couple had been killed in their Co Tyrone cottage, the word went round: King Rat did it; King Rat has struck again; no one is safe; who's next?

TELEVISION / Getting rowdy with Gaudi: Giles Smith hears the history of Barcelona in 50 minutes on tour with Robert Hughes in BBC 1's Omnibus special

Big man, Robert Hughes. And last night, in an Omnibus special (BBC 1), he was big in Barcelona. There he was in the town hall, squeezing out of a lift with all the other workers down around his knees. And there he was again, occupying more than his fair share of the back of a cab. These particular scenes were filmed through the windscreen, apparently by someone lying on the bonnet. It was nice to get a different angle on that old visitor-in-taxi routine, although this may have been a practical decision rather than a creative one, responding to the fact that, with Hughes inside the vehicle, there wasn't enough room for a camera.
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Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape