Arts and Entertainment

Literary prescriptions for modern ailments

Virgin Mary seen in tree stump in Limerick

As a place of worship, it’s verging on the bizarre: a tree stump in the grounds of a church in Co Limerick, Ireland, which many believe depicts an image of the Blessed Virgin.

Cyclotherapy: The Road to Ventoux: Superstition ain't the way

How do you approach a big ride such as a long sportive? I doubt that you turn up and just do it, like the typical weekend training ride. If you're a novice, there will be justifiable trepidation and a sense of not quite knowing what you are embarking on. More experienced, and you will bring a weight of expectations, a list of curious talismanic conditions that need to be just-so for you to feel settled at the start.

Amol Rajan: Rote learning and Boris

It is one of the most deeply rooted superstitions on the Right in Britain today that only Tories believe in a thorough, rigorous academic education for all. This view has no basis in reality, and is one of those little voodoo dolls created by partisans (people on the Left do it too, of course) to give their fellow ideologues something to stick their pins into, and thereby cohere around.

At least Toure's superstition wasn't life-threatening

Kolo Toure's superstition about being the last player to take the pitch proved bad luck last week when Arsenal kicked off the second half against Roma without him as he waited for William Gallas, who had been receiving treatment. The Ivorian was then yellow-carded for scurrying on late without the referee's permission. Could have been worse, though, as another African player discovered last October after the players for Zimbabwe's Midlands Portland Cement side were ordered into the crocodile-infested Zambezi by their coach for a spot of ritual cleansing, intended to banish bad spirits. Seventeen went in; 16 came out. And they lost their next match.

A C Grayling: An antidote to the prevailing superstition

The launch of a national federation of atheist, humanist and secular student societies is one of the brightest things to happen this winter.

Miscarriage: The loneliest grief of all

Kate Evans has had six miscarriages. To her, each felt like a bereavement – yet she mourned in silence. So how do you deal with the loss of someone who never lived?

Darkness Rising, By Frank Tallis

A Freudian PI returns in this historical thriller

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Gatti, Royal Festival Hall, London

Mahler had a superstitious fear of tackling his Ninth Symphony, and the score he completed in 1909 is duly riven with anguish, nostalgia and farewell gestures. Its 1912 premiere did indeed prove posthumous.

Tanzanian albinos come out of the shadows

Al-Shymaa Kway-Geer got her job because of the way she looks. Not because of her average height, her shoulder-length hair or her fashion sense. She is a Tanzanian MP because of her skin, which is white and freckled with sun damage and her pale, almost colourless eyes.

Nigeria arrests 'exorcist bishop'

Nigeria has cracked down on the abuse of children branded as witches after a British investigation into the practice. A man calling himself "the bishop", who said he had killed more than 100 people possessed by the devil, has been arrested.

One Minute With: Poppy Adams

A Journey to Mount Athos, By François Augiérastrs Sue Dyson and Christopher Moncrieff

A youth finds himself in a strange village, near the sea, in the cool of the evening. He does not know how he got there, or who he is. A beautiful young woman explains that he is dead; if he becomes her lover, she will return him to the land of the living. Though tempted, he chooses instead to travel further into the land of death, to the island of Athos where he will try to reach the summit of the Holy Mountain.

Scandal of the children killed for 'witchcraft'

In Nigeria, rogue pastors prey on fears of black magic to drum up a lucrative trade in 'exorcisms'
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Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence