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ART / Posture and imposture: Andrew Graham-Dixon finds fantasy, pastiche and a hint of the boardroom in 'The Swagger Portrait' at the Tate

A lot of the paintings in 'The Swagger Portrait', at the Tate Gallery, have the character of dim and distant relics, the products of a world almost inconceivably alien to our own. Take Van Dyck's Venetia Stanley, Lady Digby, as Prudence, whose iconography is so complex that the sitter seems to be juggling with her attributes like some kind of 17th-century plate-spinner: she consents to be crowned by three fluttering putti while simultaneously fondling a pair of doves with one hand, holding a serpent in the other, trampling a torch-bearing Cupid underfoot and studiously ignoring the figure of Janus who skulks behind her.

BOOK REVIEW / Old horrors in Oliver's new army: Going to the wars: The Experience of the British Civil Wars, 1638-1651 by Charles Carlton, Routledge pounds 25

THE civil wars of the 17th century were for a long time treated as the central event in the history of the British Isles. The realm of England in particular had supposedly been moving for some centuries towards that crisis, and the modern democratic structure was discerned as steadily developing from the victory of Parliament.

OFF THE SHELF / Spiders round the neck: Kenneth Baxter on the Diary of Elias Ashmole, aged 16-70

JOHN AUBREY, the author of Brief Lives, was a gregarious man whose acquaintance included Elias Ashmole, 'the greatest virtuoso and curioso that ever was known or heard of in England'. Ashmole, like Dr Johnson, was a shopkeeper's son of Lichfield. Less lethargic than Johnson, he became a solicitor, cavalry officer and excise official until marriage to a rich widow enabled him to devote himself to astrology, alchemy and antiquarian research. 'It pleased God to put me in mind that I was now placed in the condition I had always desired, which was that I might be enabled to live to myself without being forced to take pains for a livelihood.'

Press gets the hard sell from frantic Fringe performers : Artistes join the scrum to beg or persuade reporters to review their shows in Edinburgh. David Lister reports

SOME ARE in costume, some are virtually naked. Some leer, some look like frightened rabbits. They brace themselves for two hours of hard sell, several hundred in one large room, sweating, cajoling, begging, hustling.

Divers find royalist warship off Scots coast

A SUNKEN 17th century warship - believed to have been part of a royalist invasion fleet during the English Civil War - has been discovered by divers off the west coast of Scotland, writes David Keys.
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General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'