Terence Blacker

The writer and broadcaster Terence Blacker contributes a twice-weekly column on a wide range of social, cultural and environmental issues. He is the author of four novels, of prize-winning fiction for children, and has written a highly praised biography of the brilliant reprobate Willie Donaldson.

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Maybe Alain de Botton’s right – perhaps we are becoming kinder

We care more about our fellow human beings than we used to

Columnist and writer Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran's honesty is the perfect antidote to revelations about Andy Coulson and Rolf Harris

Ah, the pleasures of the self – not such a male preserve after all

Bernard Jordan returns

The ‘D-Day rascal’ lets us indulge a modern pastime – patronising the old

It seems that anyone who has reached the age of 89 should be presumed to be so helpless that merely catching a train represents an act of derring-do

Life-enhancing wit: Nicholson Baker

Travelling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker, book review: A strange and interesting mind delights

Long before we entered this golden age of over-sharing, Nicholson Baker was fossicking through the stuff of intimate daily life, exploring in detail which borders on the obsessive-compulsive the subjects that fascinate him – words, books, music, poetry, humans, sex.

Why Ségolène Royal is right about décolletage

If she did indeed argue that professional women working in her ministry should avoid flashing the flesh, was that really such an outrageous thing to suggest?

Updike by Adam Begley, book review: A biography shows that John Updike's talent was for fiction, not domestic drama

In 1999,John Updike contributed an essay about what he called "the Judas biography" to the New York Review of Books. "I raise the possibility," he wrote, "that we resent a fiction writer's manipulation of his private life, including the private life of those around him, and rejoice when he or she loses control."

Singing from the Floor by JP Bean, book review: A glorious history of folk music and those who made it

It is not difficult to mock folk clubs. Middle-aged, occasionally solemn, riven with rules about what is acceptably traditional, they may sing brave songs of freedom but that spirit is not always extended to music of which they disapprove.

Stop the snobbery – kids won’t fall for a book just because a celebrity wrote it

It is time to be a little more relaxed when people like Russell Brand barge in

Fresh chapter: The Big Book Share gives prisoners an element of normality

Why books are a lifeline for prisoners

Terence Blacker was on a visit to a prison to talk about the benefits of reading when he heard about the ban on books. Where better to contemplate the folly of the move?

The cast of the BBC satire ‘W1A’, overseen by the quizzical eyes of Frankie Howerd

The BBC might be laughing at itself in ‘W1A’, but that doesn’t get it off the hook

The group-think that infects the Corporation has serious implications

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Day In a Page

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