Judging by the national mood, I would urge David Cameron to go to the polls now; the mood is good out there

The Irritations of Modern Life; 58. Postcards

IT'S THAT time of year again. As half the country lie unclothed on foreign beaches, turning an interesting shade of magenta, the other half get to share their "wacky" holiday experiences via the postcard.

Books: The man who couldn't go to dinner

The letters of Wilkie Collins have been collected for the first time, and they reveal more about his digestion and his boils than his mysterious love life

Villagers plagued by poison pen mail Poisoned pen mail

CHOCOLATE-BOX cottages lining narrow streets surrounded by green fields make Countes- thorpe in Leicestershire seem the quintessential English village, with a cricket team and traditional pubs. But the idyllic setting harbours the vicious perpetrator of a vile poison pen campaign.

How would we express ourselves without greetings cards?

YESTERDAY I brought you an extract from the trial in which Damien Frontway, who never knew his father, is suing the mighty Birthmark Card empire for issuing Father's Day cards and thus causing him mental and emotional distress by reminding him of his absent parent. Today we hear more of the evidence given on the stand by Mr Roberts, chairman of Birthmark Cards.

Let this card bring joy to you. If it doesn't you may sue

`The greeting card industry demands 100 per cent sincerity. That is very wearing'

Muisc: Rip it up, start again

Remember Big Country? Lush melodies? Raw emotion and home-town pride? Old news. In the fifth part of our major series on devolution, Elisabeth Mahoney applauds the way Scottish pop has reinvented itself

How to make a million without going to Torquay

TODAY WE are continuing our travel-writing master class, in which we claim to tell you how to convert your summer holiday experiences into a best-seller.

Labour in bid to win over women

THE GOVERNMENT is to canvass the views of women on what really matters in their lives by sending out one million bright orange, reply- paid postcards to shops and libraries.

Industrial Breakthroughs: Hot Desking

What is it?

Greeting cards are just a pawn in the banana game

PRODUCERS OF greeting cards yesterday sent an unpleasant message to the US and the European Union, branding them "bananas" for using the industry as a pawn in the latest trade dispute.

Win copies of `The Ice Storm' video

Ang Lee's The Ice Storm is emotional, thought-provoking and has earned

BJP casts a cloud over holiday season

BJP casts a cloud over holiday season


Missed the last posting date for Australia, America, Europe ... Britain? Fear not, you can now redeem yourself right up until the big 25 with a virtual Christmas card to anyone, anywhere who has an e-mail address. Scotland.net's Christmas Pages is at the classier end of this growing new market, with cards divided into Traditional (stained-glass windows from churches such as the Holy Rood in Stirling), Scenic (a wintry Princes Street in Edinburgh, snowy Loch Duich and various other landscapes heavy with the white stuff) and Wildlife (pheasants, robins, stags and more). The method for sending virtual cards is pretty much the same everywhere. In this case, once you have matched the card to the recipient, simply click on it to customise it further from the range of festive borders and seasonal greetings and then fill in your details and those of the person you're sending it to.

Postcards from the proscenium

The Critical Condition; A bad film review means bad box office, but the movie itself remains unaffected . By contrast, a theatre review can change a production. In the fourth part of our week-long series on criticism, we examine the role of the theatre critic. By Paul Taylor

Win Gangsters on CD-Rom

Set in a fictional Chicago-style city called New Temperance during Prohibition in the 1920s, Gangsters: Organised Crime casts you as the Boss in a world of extortion, intimidation and murder. The latest release from Hothouse Creations, the game is published by Eidos Interactive and is available in PC CD-Rom format priced pounds 39.99.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform