• Image of Issue 1177: April 3-9

It’s such a mysterious tradition that there is no written record of it. But a database in Northampton has nearly 2,000 instances of shoes being concealed in people’s houses. Antonia Charlesworth peers beneath the floorboards and up chimneys to find out what’s behind the ancient practice.

While much of the west’s attention is on the fight against ISIS in Syria, the Syrian regime and its Russian allies are killing civilians with airstrikes. A British doctor working in Idlib tells Saskia Murphy how his team treat casualties when the hospitals themselves are being targeted.

There’s hope at last for residents of a long blighted Liverpool community now refurbishment is planned, but will the benefits extend to all in the Welsh Streets, asks Ciara Leeming.

In arts and entertainment, there are reviews of TV, games, independent cinema and a diverse array of albums, including Jesus and Mary Chain and Take That, while Martin Sixsmith, whose Philomena was a bestselling book and film, tells us about the dangers he faced in Pakistan as he researched his new book Ayesha’s Gift.

On the news pages there’s a report on the coming Gorton by-election, triggered by the death of Gerald Kaufman, where Labour holds a 24,000 majority but no one’s taking anything for granted. There’s also news of our exciting tie-up with Grassington Festival, taking place in the Yorkshire Dales in summer.

Actor Alan Arkin writes a letter to his younger self, there’s our crossword and Sudoku – and much more.

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