Christopher Hirst

Christopher Hirst is an award-winning food writer and freelance journalist.

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Ill at teas: some employees in wards in the East Midlands must now make do with water

A cup of tea is every worker's right

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right

The Wisdom of Trees by Max Adams, book review: An obscure branch of knowledge, quirkily laid bare

Max Adams, a biographer of Admiral Collingwood, is also “a teacher of tree history” and a woodland manager.

Welcome to Just a Minute! by Nicholas Parsons - book review: 'Brilliant, superbly enjoyable…' – just not in book form

Despite its in-built defect – the interdict on hesitation, repetition and deviation frustrates any but the briefest joke or anecdote – Just a Minute is a classic example of Radio 4's strange power. The chairman Nicholas Parsons, now, amazingly, in his 90th year, admits that the show "disregards the basic rules" for telling funny stories. "Instead, [its] success is based on improvisation and ad-libbing by bright, intelligent and witty people sparking off each other."

Gin Glorious Gin, by Olivia Williams - book review: How mother's ruin became the toast of London

Even a decade ago, this lively historical cruise round the ocean of gin would have been a publishing non-starter. Towards the end of the last century, London's traditional spirit – neutral alcohol re-distilled with various flavourings and spices known as "botanicals" – was approximately as fashionable as the celluloid collar and the Marcel wave. According to Williams, London Dry Gin was "associated with Betjeman's twee vision of England – of golf clubs, tennis matches and dinner parties". You still encounter red-nosed Sixties types, who, though far from averse to other mind-altering substances, find the very mention of gin to be repugnant.

Travel books round-up: Wonders of the world, from cow wee to the 'waria'

Surely no country offers richer pickings for a cabinet of curiosities than India. The diverting assemblage in Sam Miller's A Strange Kind of Paradise: India through Foreign Eyes (Cape, £18.99) ranges from the putative appearance of St "Doubting" Thomas in Kerala to the mutilation inflicted on 300 British soldiers imprisoned by Tipu Sultan in the 1780s. "Terribly alarmed for our foreskins," wrote one colonel.

The Star Inn the City, restaurant review: This All-Day Menu plays the Yorkshire card with a heavy hand

The Star Inn the City, Lendal Engine House, Museum Street, York (01904 619208)

Christopher Hirst travels to Puerto Rico to test-drive their national cocktail, the piña colada

The exotic rum, pineapple and coconut concoction was made Puerto Rico's 'official beverage' in 1978

My Scotland, Our Britain by Gordon Brown, book review: Homage to home country reveals more of the man than the manifesto

"This is not a political manifesto," insists Gordon Brown at the conclusion of his predictably slanted contribution to the referendum debate. This is true. Perhaps his argument for Scotland staying in the UK would have benefited from a bit more political grit. His book is, however, heartfelt, well-informed and persuasive – if you can stay the course. Unfortunately, its relentless didacticism will have limited appeal, especially among the 98,000 16 and 17-year-olds whose votes may be crucial.

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Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker