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Conservative halve Labour’s poll lead

I is an Other, By James Geary

We say one thing but mean another far more often than we realise, and, paradoxically, rely on this figure of speech to make ourselves clear

At large in Thailand: Trunk callers

The setting is stunning, the spas superb, the Thai cuisine tasty – but the elephants are what make this the perfect family holiday

Ten UK Summer Cottage Deals

1 Cornwall: Take a late-summer break from 26 August at Dove Cottage, sleeping four. It's available through Classic Cottages (classic.co.uk) for £450 for a seven-night stay.

It's Wind in the Willows Part II

Radio 4 is to broadcast a sequel to the children's classic The Wind in the Willows. A Change in the Willows, by Ian Buchan, will star Stephen Mangan as Toad, Andrew Sachs as Badger, Tim McInnerny as Toad and Julian Rhind-Tutt as Ratty.

Midwife toads under attack from deadly fungal disease

A rare species of toad in the French Pyrenees is the latest variety of amphibian to be threatened by a deadly fungal infection that scientists have so far been unable to cure.

Business Diary: A new dividend at Bank of America

Who needs real dividends when you can have peace dividends (otherwise known as a period of enhanced returns thanks to afailure to conduct misguided M&A)? That appears to be the message from Brian Moynihan, the chief executive of struggling Bank of America, who welcomed analysts to an investor day at the bank with this little gem ofwisdom: "I can't stress enough to you how much of a peace dividend we'll get without mergers; that peace dividend is effectively apermanent dividend."

It's a right carry on ... up the jungle

Explorer Benedict Allen reveals that nature documentaries are as tricksy as any other kind of filming, and we collude in the deceit

Migrating toads to disrupt Bundesliga game

Migrating toads will force thousands of Freiburg fans to find a different way home when they leave their stadium after Saturday's Bundesliga game against VfL Wolfsburg.

Letters: multiculturalism

I am alarmed that David Cameron denigrated multiculturalism, to the applause of European Union ministers, some of whom are from right-wing parties. It was in Munich that Hitler held fascist rallies.

Hella Jongerius: Misfit, Phaidon £29.95

Misfit is an impressive monograph celebrating the work of the contemporary Dutch designer Hella Jongerius.

The Stranger in the Mirror: A Memoir of Middle Age, By Jane Shilling

I felt like a soft-boiled egg, a dissected frog, a jellied blob of sea anemone pecked by the cruel beaks of seabirds": Jane Shilling's memoir is an exuberant epitaph on youth, a girlie chat, an album of memories and reflections on identity, memory, the ageing female body and that other woman over there in the mirror who is not myself. Just cannot be. And is. Je est un autre. The book is a lovely, easy read: Shilling's style, dashingly cavalier and artfully artless, bubbles with wit and brio. Never was a lament less lugubrious.

Outside the Box: Cold comfort as Bradford set club record – 73 days without a home game

Now it is official that last month was Britain's coldest December since details were first collated, how many unwanted new football records will be set because of this winter's weather? One already created, which may be further extended this week, is at Bradford Park Avenue, the Evo-Stik (former Northern Premier) League club, who have not played at home since losing to Frickley Athletic on 30 October. They have suffered seven consecutive postponements from snow, frost, waterlogging – everything bar plagues of frogs – and in so doing they set a new club record. A League Challenge Cup derby at home to AFC Halifax Town is due on Tuesday, which would be 73 days since the previous home game. The previous record was set in the long winter of 1962-63, when Avenue went 61 days without a home game, between Third Division home fixtures against (coincidentally) Halifax Town on 4 January and Peterborough United on 6 March. The pile-up proved costly and they were relegated on goal average, joining neighbours Bradford City in Division Four. Replaced as a League club in 1970, they went into liquidation before reforming in 1988.

It's raining birds and frogs: Animal phenomena are surprisingly common but why do they happen?

Worm showers, falling fish – these animal phenomena are surprisingly common. But why do they happen?

Bagpuss, Soho Theatre, London

This season's crop of Christmas shows proves that most inner-London venues are seriously under-used in the rest of the year. There is a plethora of under-age party fun in the West End and now the Soho, home to right-on drama and cutting-edge comedy, has cleared the decks for Bagpuss.

Michael Bywater: Meet the real Dirk Gently. It's me...

I was on the telly. BBC4, last Thursday, 9pm. Didn't watch it, of course, and it wasn't really me anyway. But I read the book. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Actually I'm in the book. Didn't you know? I'm him. Dirk. Douglas told me. Told everyone else, too, whether they asked or not. Lots of people have been put in books but not quite so blatantly. Who was it who said an author is someone who sells out his friends? But at least they usually deny it absolutely.

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Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
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Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
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Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
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Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
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Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried