Invisible Ink: No 129 - Arthur Ward

He seemed an ordinary working-class fellow with an interesting middle name (Sarsfield), born in Birmingham in 1883, where he grew up to become a civil servant. Early photographs are unassuming, but compare them to his later pictures, when he appears in a silk dressing gown, puffing on what looks like an opium pipe: what happened to transform the conventional Mr Ward?

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009, By Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen arrives in the present, and surveys our contemporary culture with dismay

Tom Hodgkinson: Why Shakespeare's pain is pure poetry

Do we need poetry? Last week, appearing on a Radio 4 programme, I praised the poets for making our lives bearable with their words, for adding meaning to our world. Another of the guests, a hard-working businessman wearing a gold watch, attacked me for promoting poetry, and therefore idleness: "People need food!" he raved. "You can't eat poetry!"

The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild, By Hannah Rothschild

A tantalising portrait of a British society beauty who became the ‘crazy friend’ of Thelonious Monk

Graham Coxon, HMV Forum, London

Boyish Blur guitarist Graham Coxon is clearly multi-talented.

International Conductors’ Academy of the Allianz Cultural Foundation, Royal Festival Hall

A showcase for three young conductors, a malfunction at the printers, and for the first time in my experience no programmes for the audience and the prospect of blind-tasting their talents.

Melisande! What Are Dreams? By Hillel Halkin

Hillel Halkin's touching novel about love and friendship opens in New York in the 1950s and ends on a remote Greek island in the 1980s.

Alice Jones: What the new Sgt Pepper cover tells us about modern Britain

Where once stood Marilyn, now stands Delia, in a Norwich City scarf. HG Wells has been ousted by JK Rowling, Marlene Dietrich bumped by Kate Moss. As for John, George and Ringo – they're nowhere to be seen.

One Minute With: Tim Lott, novelist

Where are you now and what can you see?

Jean-Pierre Delord, Bugarach's mayor, with a postcard of a UFO hovering over a local peak

Hippies head for Noah’s Ark: Queue here for rescue aboard alien spaceship

Thousands of New Agers descend on mountain they see as haven from December's apocalypse

Even a candid, generous Emma Bell in the title role - here with Anthony Jackson of the dance troupe Soul Mavericks - can't save Miss Fortune

Miss Fortune, Royal Opera House, London
The Barber of Seville, Hackney Empire, London
Eugene Onegin, Hackney Empire, London

Judith Weir's rare failure is an inner-city Cinderella story that never lifts off ... unlike the kebab van

Jack White premiered his excellent new song Sixteen Saltines on last week's 'Saturday Night Live'

S.C.U.M., Bush Hall, London

Bob Geldof leans, stony-faced, against a wall as his daughter Peaches’ fiancé Thomas Cohen performs.

A Dangerous Method, David Cronenberg, 100 mins (15)

Do go through, Fräulein Knightley – the doctor will undress you now

The Heresy of Love, Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Eight years ago, in their excellent Spanish Golden Age season, the RSC presented the English premiere of House of Desires, a surprising event on several levels.

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Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there