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
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
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11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone