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Conservative halve Labour’s poll lead

Win a state-of-the-art laptop and a bestseller writing course

To celebrate the launch of its brand new game Blue Toad Murder Files: The Mysteries of Little Riddle on PC, Relentless Software has teamed up with the Independent to launch an exclusive competition for all budding writers.

Harriet Walker: 'We've thrashed out the terms of our divorce - I'll keep the kids but he can have custody of the leftovers'

Sometimes it makes sense to run before you can walk, so last weekend my boyfriend and I thrashed out the terms of our divorce. "If it was your fault, I'd keep the house and kids," he insisted. "But I'd be their mother," I countered, enjoying the fact that arguing in the conditional tense means you're pretty much unbeatable. (Unfortunately it means the other party is also unbeatable, but there's nevertheless a brilliant sense of righteousness that comes from putting "would" in front of any given verb.) "They would need me to look after them."

Pet of the week: The Frog Beetle

Beetles are quite fascinating members of the insect world. There are more than 350,000 different types of beetle, more than any other species on the planet, and they are crucial to the life cycle of their natural habitats. They may be small, but they have a huge impact on life on earth.

English Literature: A Very Short Introduction, By Jonathan Bate

What a relief that Jonathan Bate's lively entrée to EngLit does not kick off with Beowulf. Instead, we have Mr Toad's estate agent-like description of Toad Hall: "Up-to-date sanitation. Five minutes from church, post-office and golf links." This is because "Once Upon a Time", first of the essays in which Bate tackles his huge topic, explores the works where most people start.

Full moon: Ill met by moonlight

It makes wolves howl, toads frisky and cats crazy. The full moon also gets the blame for all manner of human bad behaviour. But are these just old wives' tales – or is there a rational explanation? By Roger Dobson

Les Gibbard

Les Gibbard (obituary, 23 October) was a friend, esteemed for his old fashioned niceness, good humour and lack of malice or sharp professional elbows, writes Edward Pearce.

Ranavirus: It's a frog's life

As a new virus cuts a swathe through their numbers, Gillian Orr discovers that we are only starting to unlock the secrets of these alluring amphibians

New virus causing mass deaths of frogs

Common frog populations around the UK have declined by more than four-fifths because of a virus which causes their internal organs to haemorrhage.

Boiling Frogs, Southwark Playhouse, London

It was an inauspicious start when an audience member spilled a glass of red wine down the back of playwright Steven Bloomer before the curtain was even up on the opening night of his new play, Boiling Frogs.

Boiling Frogs uphold their reputation as the coolest company around

Is The Factory the best-connected young theatre company in town? Their upcoming production of Boiling Frogs comes with the stellar backing of Mark Rylance, Tracey Emin and Ewan McGregor.

Pea-sized frogs found in Borneo carnivorous plants

One of the world's tiniest frogs — barely larger than a pea — has been found living in and around carnivorous plants on Borneo island, one of the scientists who made the accidental discovery said today.

This moor was once a hive of industry

Walk of the month: Dartmoor - Its mines are now ruins and Dartmoor is better known for sparse, rocky tors. But it blossoms in summer. Mark Rowe steps out

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Big ambitions for Britain's small ponds

Sometimes it dawns on you why you love your country, and I had one of those moments the other day in contemplating the fact that Britain has a full-time organisation devoted to the welfare of ponds. I may be wrong, but I simply cannot imagine that France or Germany or Italy, still less Albania, Paraguay or Ghana, has a charitable body, employing a full-time staff, which focuses entirely on the health of small bodies of standing water.

My life in ten questions...The Stranglers’ Jean-Jacques Burnel

‘As a child being called Jean-Jacques was like being a boy named Sue.’

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Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
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The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
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The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
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Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
peopleThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
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footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
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Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
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newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
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Queen Elizabeth II sends the first royal tweet under her own name to declare the opening of the new Information Age Galleries at the Science Museum, South Kensington, London
media... and the BBC was there to document one of the worst reactions
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Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker