Arts and Entertainment Hair time: Colin Wilson breaks another literary rule: don't pose for silly pictures

For ambitious would-be authors, the life of Colin Wilson presents itself as a cautionary tale. Here, Terence Blacker explains where the self-proclaimed genius went wrong

Diana Raymond: Writer whose novels were infused with wit and metaphysics

Diana Raymond was the author of 24 novels, a memoir, theatre criticism, a number of lyric poems and a play about one of her heroes, John Keats.

Howard Jacobson: Our bankers could learn a thing or two from the Victorians – namely honour

They had the moral refinement to do away with themselves when the game was up

Our day in the snow...

Virginia Ironside’s Dilemmas: Do you think I'm a repressed gay?

Dear Virginia,

I've got a fixation that I might be gay. After a wretched life, and ending up in rehab, I married an amazing man, and we had a son, now four. We had a great sex life – but now he's left me. Then my mother died and my business failed. Now I'm obsessed by my sexuality. I've never had sex with a woman, and don't fancy them, but when I see nudes in photos I shudder, and blush at the word "gay". I don't feel gay or straight, I feel inhuman and isolated. Do you think I'm a repressed gay?

Yours sincerely, Sandra

Splashing out: Getting down to the bare essentials in the Baltic Sea

I am stark naked. On the edge of a northern sea. In the depths of winter. It is, unsurprisingly, freezing. The body of water beside which I am shivering and goose pimpled is the Baltic. Or at least it's where the Baltic ends and merges with the North Sea, on that stretch of grey, flat water bisecting the coasts of Denmark and Sweden: the Oresund. To the north, on the opposite shore, are the battlements of Elsinore, where Hamlet fought with insanity. Here in Malmö , in the south of Sweden, I'm beginning to doubt my own state of mind. What was it about going swimming at this time of year that seemed like a good idea? And in chilly Scandinavia, at that?

A random act of Christmas kindness

What's wrong with doing good? Four housemates decided it was time to forget recession, cast off the gloom and start to make a difference

Great Works: Study Of Clouds (1822) by John Constable

Clouds are all sorts. They are a medium of revelation, through which the gods show themselves. They're a playground for human imagination, where we can see any number of forms and creatures ("Very like a whale!"). They are mood music, the emotional backdrop to a scene. They are complex natural phenomena, which challenge our capacity for accurate observation.

The 50 Best Picnic Spots - Urban

Rhiannon Batten finds the perfect places to lay your blanket this summer

Philip Hensher: The classical allusion makes a comeback

"You see? You see?" Zaved said, pointing at the headline. "I warned you about your friend the Mayor. Look, he only won the election two days ago, and he's already talking about the Aryans. I told you, it was all a terrible front for –" "Never mind what it was a front for," I said. "Show me that."

Sian Berry: We Ask The Questions

Such as, 'How will you cut crime?' and 'What is your favourite joke'

Steve Richards: Boris or Ken? There is no doubt who would be better for London and the rest of Britain

In my late youth I have become indecisive, suddenly incapable of making up my mind on big things or small. Until recently, decisions came and went and I was always confident like our former Prime Minister about what was "the right thing to do". Now I dither, as our present Prime Minister is accused of doing.

Charlotte Mendelson: Inside the novelist's ideal home

Charlotte Mendelson thought that houses in the London enclave where she set her novel were all out of reach. Then she found the perfect doer-upper...

Pets' corner: Teenage Mutant Ninja Terrapins

Your questions answered by Chamois Rose-Wood

Dominic Lawson: I went to Eton - and absolutely hated it

The atmosphere of the place was oppressive. After a year, I asked my parents to take me away

Brian Viner: Country Life

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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
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
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