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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Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
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Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
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Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

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Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

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League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
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Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

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Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

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Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

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