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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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

On relationships, this generation has learned from their parents’ mistakes

Couples now realise marriage is not a social, religious or family matter. It’s personal

Marius the giraffe: Don't put sentimentality before good sense

Tempting as it must have been to win some positive PR, the Copenhagen zoo took the tougher, more responsible course

We can no longer protest like Pete Seeger

He was a hero, yet I was unable to watch him without a feeling of irritation

Barracuda, By Christos Tsiolkas: Book review - a novel about a competitive swimmer's torments that misses the mark

No one could accuse Christos Tsiolkas of lacking ambition. His last novel, the hugely successful The Slap, had eight narrators and built a story of modern multicultural Australian life around one relatively small domestic incident.

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Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project