Christopher Hirst

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

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Book review: Leonardo and the Last Supper, By Ross King

King has conjured up an absorbing Renaissance case study: Leonardo's Milanese masterpiece comes to life when we learn that the Afghan ultramarine used for Christ's mantle cost the same per ounce as the annual rent of a house, while the actual supper has recently been revealed as "eel garnished with slices of orange".

Book review: The Light Garden of the Angel King, By Peter Levi

The inaccessibility of Afghanistan adds lustre to this poetic masterpiece about a visit in the inconceivably peaceful late Sixties.

Book review: The Big Screen, By David Thomson

The good, the bad and the mediocre stuff of cinema

WikiLeaks, By David Leigh and Luke Harding

This "new and updated edition" adds 33 pages to the 2010 original but few revelations.

Book review: The Story of Music, By Howard Goodall

Goodall's thesis begins with a 40,000-year-old flute. "It is from [such] dusty artefacts that Duke Ellington's horn section… would one day grow."

Book review: Bertie, By Jane Ridley

This monumental but deliciously readable life of Edward VII reveals that, as Prince of Wales, he was a complete nightmare. "Bertie" was so greedy that one courtier was said to have burned down his house so he didn't have to entertain the prince.

Book review: A Natural History of Ghosts, By Roger Clarke

Though rationalists may scoff at Clarke's encounter with a ghostly bouncing ball, he tackles the supernatural with gusto, intelligence and persistence.

Book review: Collected Ghost Stories, By MR James

The don and the damned: a master of terror returns

Book review: First Class, By Chris West

A "history of Britain in 36 postage stamps" could have been as fusty as the hobby from which it emerged but West's annotations are well-crafted and revealing.

Book review: Parthenon, By David Stuttard

This atmospheric account of Europe's greatest classical structure, built by Pericles in a mere 15 years after the Persians levelled Athens, suggests that it was a piecemeal construction with no masterplan.

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The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

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The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...