Travel

Mons is embracing the future as it prepares for its role as next year’s European Capital of Culture, but it’s also steeped in intriguing history. Philip Sweeney explores its two sides

Invisible Ink: No 197 - The other Sherlock Holmes writers

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s consulting detective inspired many other authors to tackle stories beyond the accepted canon. Adrian Conan Doyle picked up his father’s mantle, accompanied by John Dickson Carr (who I imagine did most of the heavy lifting) for The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, based on 12 unexplained cases mentioned by Holmes, but these tales are now out of print.

Invisible Ink: No 195 - Roland Quiz

Victorian children’s stories were often the stuff of nightmares. As a child I inherited my grandfather’s books and was haunted by an illustration, “Karik And Valya Trapped In The Lair Of The Water-Spider” – which showed two miniaturised Russian children being wrapped in slimy webbing by a gigantic eight-legged multi-eyed horror at the bottom of a pond – from The Extraordinary Adventures of Karik and Valya, by Yan Larri.

Free press? Cameras follow Barack Obama at the White House

Truth is the first casualty of 'transparency'

Out of America: Despite President Obama's promises of openness, leakers are pursued as never before and it's harder for journalists to do their job

Nigel Harman as visiting valet Mr Green, who attacked and raped Anna Bates in Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey: Nothing gratuitous about this harrowingly accurate rape scene

On his fourth series,  Julian Fellowes is bound to want to keep his plotlines interesting

Jeremy Paxman blasts David Cameron over WWI centenary comments

'What on earth is he talking about?' asks the Newsnight presenter

Bob Geldof at the One Young World summit

Bob Geldof: The world could end by 2030

The Boomtown Rats star gives doom-laden climate change prediction

Invisible Ink: No 193 - Harry Graham

A talent for frivolously cruel humour is not something one expects from a man with the following heavyweight CV: Jocelyn Henry Clive Graham, nicknamed Harry, was the son of Sir Henry Graham and Lady Edith Elizabeth Gathorne-Hardy.

Television choices: Rageh Omaar's timely take on the roots of modern conflict in The Ottomans

TV pick of the week: The Ottomans: Europe's Muslim Emperors

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anna, Sir Richard Branson, far right, and Irish activist Sir Bob Geldof, second from right, during the opening ceremony for the One Young World summit

One Young World conference encourages new generation of leaders at world's largest youth gathering

The world is in a terrible mess. Global warming is causing irreversible damage to the environment, poverty and greed is stifling progress and corruption is rife. The solution? It’s time to hand over the reigns to the next generation. 

Plans to double number of army reserves will create ‘surge in mental health problems’

Charities say members of the TA are twice as likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder than soldiers in the regular forces

Invisible Ink: No 192 - Axel Munthe

It was said that in Axel Munthe’s one major book there were enough plots and short stories to fill the rest of most writers’ lives. It became a beloved classic, variously described as amazing, horrible, hilarious, romantic, pitiful, enchanting, and possessing that strange simplicity of mind which is often the attribute of genius.

Sean O'Grady: A tale of previous hits and misses – but I’m in for Royal Mail shares...

Once upon a time I was one of those people who refused to buy privatisation shares on the grounds that the Government (“wicked Tory” then as now being the usual adjectives attached to that phrase) was selling something that already belonged to me.

Paperback review: Servants, By Lucy Lethbridge

Frederick Daniel Hardy’s 1871 painting After the Party seems to strike more of the truth about a servant’s life than any Downton Abbey episode, and Lethbridge’s account of servant life at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th reinforces that impression.

Invisible Ink: No 190 - Arthur Upfield

Golden Age crime-writing was not the exclusive province of the British and the Americans. Arthur Upfield is an interesting case, because something very disturbing happened to him. Upfield was born in 1890 in Hampshire, but in 1910, after he fared poorly in his exams (he was planning to become an estate agent) his father shipped him off to Australia, where he eventually settled – if you can call it settling, for he led an itinerant life.

Brum deal: ‘Peaky Blinders’

Grace Dent on TV: Peaky Blinders, BBC2 – This is the least frightening crime gang name ever

This new BBC drama with a daft title is big, beautiful, Brummie... and a bit bloody slow

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There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
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File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
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Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
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Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
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Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
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Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
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Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
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X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
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Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'