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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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New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
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A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
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Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
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Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
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Prices correct as of 17 September 2014
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments