Counting the Stars, By Helen Dunmore

Catullus was early Rome’s most revered and reviled poet. From the first page of this intriguing new novel about his love affair with the woman whose identity he encoded as “Lesbia”, Helen Dunmore captures vividly both the poet’s tone and the heightened, overheated world of Julius Caesar’s Rome.

One Minute With... Kate Williams

Leading article: Offal tasty

Depending on your point of view, offal is either a heavenly delicacy which no serious diner could spot on the menu and forgo, or it constitutes the suspicious smelling parts of an animal that no sane eater would willingly thrusting between his or her lips.

Prom 20: BBC SO / Robertson, Royal Albert Hall, London

Considering that an accurate performance of its intricate interactions seemed barely possible when Stockhausen completed it in 1957, Gruppen for three orchestras (1955-7) has done rather well here, periodically drawing rather large audiences.

The Cherry Orchard, Festival Theatre, Chichester

An orchard that bears little fruit

Barry Douglas, Cadogan Hall, London

One of Barry Douglas's tutors once gave me a revealing character-sketch of his pupil. If you were approaching a narrow passage with him, he said, Barry would be impeccably considerate and courteous. But then you would discover that he had somehow got through first: he always had to be out in front. Which is where this Belfast-born pianist has been ever since he won the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow, 22 years ago.

Exclusive: Campbell on the couch

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's spin-doctor and "the second most powerful man in Britain", as he was once dubbed, knew something was desperately wrong when he found himself driving a hire car endlessly around a roundabout.

Miles Kington: Ug, prehistoric detective, is on the case

The people called Ug to come and see the body as he was well known to be interested in death

Lancashire the losers with Symonds close to Australian call-up

Yorkshire 417 & 323-6 Lancashire 537 Match drawn

James Lawton: Eriksson more eloquent than tokenism

Sven Goran Eriksson spoke with great feeling and delicacy when he described the emotions provoked by the visit he made with his players to Auschwitz a few months ago.

Hartlepool gets stuck into MP who cashed chips for gravy train

It is said that Peter Mandelson never endeared himself to his Hartlepool constituents after a story ­ perhaps apocryphal ­ emerged that he confused the fish and chip shop side order of mushy peas with guacamole, a rather more metropolitan delicacy.

Hallé Orchestra / Elder, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

No one in the audience at the Hallé's Maundy Thursday performance of Bach's St John Passion was able to compare Mark Elder's interpretation with that of Hans Richter when this orchestra last programmed it. The St John has been a particularly long time in coming round again - 103 years, in fact - but was well worth the wait. Sometimes a performance speaks from the heart, directly to the heart. This was one of those rare occasions. Elder secured performances of humanity, intelligence and intensity, allowing the Passion story to take shape at a pace that was lively enough to keep the attention focused yet never at the expense of the smallest detail. The coughers were silenced, the rustlers and restless stilled, and the large, responsive, audience was drawn in, from the opening chorus to the final chorale.

MPs in plea to save dolphins

How to be liberal with the truth

Eric Schlosser, the author of Fast Food Nation, dramatises a shadowy side of US history in Americans
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Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

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

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

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...