I asked social media and people’s faces where their favourite places to eat were in Edinburgh, swanky or not. A bonkers amount of comedians and friends and other Edinburgh frequenters piped up.

I will endevour to go to as many as possible this month. I’m pregnant so it’s my only vice. Saying that, it means I’ll not be much use at trying the sushi or oyster based places. I’ll either write full articles up about them for the mighty Standard Issue Magazine or I’ll add notes to here as and when I’ve been and put them in bold.

Any road – this might be useful to you if you’re a fan of food. I have hopefully categorized them helpfully.

Takeaways, snacky places or with tiny area for sitting in:

The Baked Potato Place Off Royal Mile (I’m virtually certain they meant this one) https://food.list.co.uk/place/102318-the-baked-potato-shop/

Mania Pizza on Lauriston Place (takeaway)

Snax Cafe. Filthy cheap take away fry ups. On West Register Street – just off Princes St, next to VooDoo Rooms.  http://snaxcafe.com I got a tuna panini from there and it was simple, cheap and lovely. They to do massive amounts of hot calories for really reasonable prices, like a takeaway greasy spoon without too much grease.

Pickles on Broughton Street (bit popular though apparently, might be worth booking) – http://www.getpickled.co.uk Posh nibbles by the looks of it. I’m especially keen to try their ‘Bowl of cheesy balls’

Gaia, a Sicilian deli just off Leith Walk. Their paninis are the muts apparently. http://gaiadeliedinburgh.co.uk

Coffee Mavi – Does a BEAUTIFUL homemade meatball sub apparently https://www.zomato.com/edinburgh/coffee-mavi-old-town

Pie Maker – this is basically a much better, dirtier, sexier Greggs by C Venues. It got a LOT of mentions. If you’ve never tried a Tatty Dog, you’ve never lived. http://www.thepiemaker.co.uk I’ve checked, they still do tatty dogs. So wrong, but so right.

Red Box Noodles. West Nicholson Street, opposite the Peartree pub. Eat in or takeaway, incredible noodles with all sorts to choose from with it. The absolute bollocks as fasr as I’m concerned. Only downside is there are never less than 15 other comedians in there at any one time. (Cash only) http://redboxrestaurant.com

The ‘Ting Thai Caravan’, takeaway Thai food more than one person raved about. On Teviot place. http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186525-d5279781-Reviews-Ting_Thai_Caravan-Edinburgh_Scotland.html

Best fish and chip place is Eatalias https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eatalias/108085815912011?hc_location=ufi on Brunswick Street

Taiwanese takeaway, Lian Pu, 14 Marshall Street. I’ve heard its cheap.

Kebab Mehal on Nicholson Square http://www.kebab-mahal.co.uk

Tempting Tattie – http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186525-d1727099-Reviews-Tempting_Tattie-Edinburgh_Scotland.html

The takeaway pizza place at the bottom of the Pleasance. I can’t find it online but you know the one they mean, quick and cheap apparently.

Palmyra on Nicholson Street. A pizza place but it’s specifically the falafel wrap that was lorded up by numerous folk http://www.palmyrapizza.co.uk Had a falafel wrap. Its true what they said, it was glorious.

Oink. Takeaway for hog roast sandwiches with lashings of apple sauce. http://www.oinkhogroast.co.uk

Places for the daytime

Hula (just off Grassmarket) for salads and smoothies http://www.hulajuicebar.co.uk

The Mosque (not the restaurant, actually in the mosque – under an awning- off West Nicholson Street) – gorgeous curries on paper plates for silly cheap prices. Only open until 8pm I think. This got loads of people mentioning it and is one of my favourites. (Cash Only)

Anteaques, swanky looking tea shop https://anteaques.co.uk

Elephants and Bagels, for lunch near Bristo Square but not right in it http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186525-d2270299-Reviews-Elephants_Bagels-Edinburgh_Scotland.html

Cuckoos. Best cupcakes in Scotland I’m told. Lets all go and check. http://www.cuckoosbakery.co.uk

The Pantry – gorgeous looking daytime fodder http://www.thepantryedinburgh.co.uk

Spoons. Central but tucked away. Just over the road from C Venue then to the right and above that bookshop there. Lovely brunches and cakes especially http://www.spoonedinburgh.co.uk

Hugos on the Meadows for “lovely chutney baguettes” http://www.victorhugodeli.com

Himalaya  – good veggie/ vegan options 20 South Clerk St – only open in the daytimes https://www.facebook.com/pages/Himalaya-shopcafe/299470156706?hc_location=ufi

Forest Cafe – few people bigged this up, especially for vegans http://blog.theforest.org.uk

Reneoc Cafe on Montgomery Street for brunch – http://caferenroc.co.uk

Hemma on Holyrood, posh lunches and brunches http://www.bodabar.com/hemma/

Urban Angel – posh deli bits and bobs for brunches until 5pm and lunch bits from midday. Lots like they may well combine delicious with ‘good for you’ rather cleverly http://www.urban-angel.co.uk

Kilimanjaro Coffee. I’m told their poached eggs and courgette fritters for brunch are incredible http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186525-d1950939-Reviews-Kilimanjaro_Coffee-Edinburgh_Scotland.html


Mums. This has loads of people recommending it too. http://www.monstermashcafe.co.uk What a comical stodge fest. If it’s raining out and you need your face filled with salty, hot solids, this is the place. Expect a wait, it’s super friendly but seemingly always super packed.

Genki Sushi. Ungooglable apparently. Congratulations if you find it.

Cantina Mexicana on Rose Street http://www.miroscantinamexicana.com

Jamie’s Italian in Assembly Rooms. Who knew?

Voodoo Rooms – http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186525-d786276-Reviews-The_Voodoo_Rooms-Edinburgh_Scotland.htmlHad no idea their food was good. Probably worth mentioning the comedy on in there is also pretty shit hot this year. A hem. I had the meatball sandwich and shared some calamari. Service was incredible. The food was good too. Especially the calamari, so yum it made the rest seem ordinary.

Red Box Noodles. West Nicholson Street, opposite the Peartree pub. Eat in or takeaway, incredible noodles with all sorts to choose from with it. The absolute bollocks as fasr as I’m concerned. Only downside is there are never less than 15 other comedians in there at any one time. (Cash only) http://redboxrestaurant.com

Tex Mex 2 on Thistle Street. Sounds like the name of a terrible book. I want in. https://www.facebook.com/TexMexII

Wings. I heard a lot about this place last year. I think the idea is you eat a really massive amount of chicken wings with all different flavours on. PROTEIN. http://wingsedinburgh.com

Khushis for a sit in curry http://www.khushis.com/edinburgh/index.php/

Cafe Andaluz on George Street – bit on the nice side I gather http://www.cafeandaluz.com

Sushiya near Haymarket http://www.sushiya.co.uk

Clerks Bar, Clerk Street – for great burgers. Also is family friendly by the looks of it and does good deals. http://www.clerksbar.co.uk/clerks-bar/home/clerks-bar.html

Cabaret Voltaire – great free comedy venue and does ace pizzas http://www.thecabaretvoltaire.com

Mammas on the Grassmarket – specifically good for gluten free stuff http://www.mammas.co.uk

Bonsai Bar Bistro – VERY highly recommended sushi http://www.bonsaibarbistro.co.uk

City Cafe – one of the best places I know of for brunch. Downside is everyone else already knows about it too. http://www.thecitycafe.co.uk This year’s highlights have been a Mexican burger and the steak and onion baguette. Both served with perfect chunky chips which make you feel like you’re being held from the inside out. This place is so good for food. Busier than ever this year though.

Kilderkin. Sounds like a German horror film but apparently a pub with great pizzas http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186525-d2625036-Reviews-The_Kilderkin-Edinburgh_Scotland.html

Burger. Posh burgers http://www.burgeruk.co.uk

Bar Napoli. Cosy looking trattoria. http://barnapoli.co.uk

The Olive Branch. A mid-range looking bistro http://www.theolivebranchscotland.co.uk

La Strada on Castle Street. Chain, innit. Family friendly and always has deals on.

Bennet’s Bar- pub grub. Does sound like its where you might get reviewed. http://www.bennetsbar.co.uk

Cafe Andamiro – Incredible Korean restaurant. Booze free but with a bonkers, lovely tea selection. Not open Sundays and only open until 9pm. http://www.cafe-andamiro.co.uk

Quite posh but not wallet-thrashing

Chez Jules – French bistro in new town http://www.chezjulesbistro.com

Mussel and Steak bar on Grassmarket. I’d have always assumed anywhere along there would be a tourist trap and not the best grub but this place got numerous mentions and it looks glorious. http://www.musselandsteakbar.com

The Outsider on George IV Bridge – again a few people mentioned this place as especially great. It’s defo on my list. http://www.theoutsiderrestaurant.com

Fishers on the City on Thistle Street. It sounds like we all need to go to Thistle Street.http://www.fishersbistros.co.uk Looks like it’s got a really good lunch deal on.

The Dogs – http://www.thedogsonline.co.uk This place got recommended by a few people and appears to do a giant sausage, pinto beans and chips for two people. I went there. It was IN-FUCKING-CREDIBLE. And ridiculously good value. I’m going to write a hoovering article about it for Standard Issue Magazine as soon as I’ve got time.

No.11 – This looks very swish and frankly a little bit Christmassy. http://www.11brunswickst.co.uk

Mother Indias. Curry but like tapas, if like me you always want to try all the things this place looks amazing and I’ve heard lots of trustworthy types say it’s lovely


The Apartment. Posh but not silly expensive http://www.apartmentrestaurant.com

Super swanky posh ones

Wedgewood http://www.wedgwoodtherestaurant.co.uk – Posh posh posh

David Baans. Swanky vegetarian restaurant between the Mile and the Pleasance. Again, it has multiple advocates. http://www.davidbann.co.uk/index.php

Kitchen. SUPER SWANKY. Michelin star swanky. Tom Kitchen and his wife’s restaurant. Looks incredible for fish fans. Also looks pretty well booked up but might be worth a ring. http://thekitchin.com

Restaurant at the top of National Museum of Scotland, especially good for afternoon tea – http://www.tower-restaurant.com

The Witchery on the Mile, for poshos http://www.thewitchery.com

Timberyard – This place looks like it does very clever things with simple, local stuff, all super modern and minimalist. I’m keen if at some point I feel minted. http://www.timberyard.co/food_drink.php

The Honours. This looks really posh and one person said it was the best eating they’ve ever done in Edinburgh. http://www.thehonours.co.uk

Ondine. Swanky fish place in the old town http://www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk

Colonades. Swanky pants afternoon tea. http://www.thesignetlibrary.co.uk/colonnades/

Plumed Horse – Another posh one http://www.plumedhorse.co.uk

21212 – Serious finery again. I thought this was a perfume. http://www.21212restaurant.co.uk

Wishart. A few people recommended this top end swank-hole http://www.restaurantmartinwishart.co.uk

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I write a weekly food column called ‘Hoovering’ for the mighty Standard Issue Magazine. Within these columns I began a mini-series called ‘My Chocolate Column’, because I have the sense of humour of a 9 year old.

The idea is I using highly unscientific tests (eating loads of different chocolate from around the world AND from him) to see if the UK has the best chocolate in the world. And we’re talking about supermarket chocolate, not swanky boutique chocolate. I mean chocolate for the normal human.

Here’s the inaugural article incase you wanted to read it http://standardissuemagazine.com/food/hoovering-chocolate-column/

If you can’t be anussed, that’s fine – basically Belgium turned out to have RUBBISH chocolate compared to the UK’s mighty galaxy.

Those hoovering articles have become swept up into a busy adventure in themselves so I’m moving my chocolate columns back to here, my very own blog. This will be the first (technically second) of some. Enjoy.


My experiment came on a French holiday with me and my family. A trip full of rainy afternoons and board games: perfect chocolate scoffing terrain.

France might be better than us at cooking. And at kissing. And at sport; work-life-balance; academia; sex; wine; ageing; affairs; perfume; not being obese and naps. But we’ve got better chocolate than them, right?

I brought the entire new Cadbury’s Dairy Milk ‘Marvellous Creations’ range with me. We compared it to a small hillock of French chocolate, bought from the nearest hypermarché.

First, the testing crew and their vital stats:

Hatty – my 15 year old sister. Keen reader, blogger and chocolate hooverer.

Nana – age: 85. Big into lace. Huge Francophile, expect heavy unpatriotic bias.

Ollie – my 15 year old cousin. Splendid at tennis, expect good appetite.

Gary – my lovely step-Dad. Usual weapon of choice? Dark chocolate Toblerone.

Cathy – my Aunt. Hates being called ‘Aunty Cathy’.

Mikey – my chap. The sweeter and creamier the food, the more he loves it. Achilles heel? The dentist. Especially if the dentist also comes wielding a kidney stone.

Mum – My Mum. Was never that fussed about chocolate until she got diabetes. She loves it now.

Here are the highlights of our findings:

Cadbury’s Marvelous ‘Creations Mix Ups’ (Blue Bag)

There were giant milk chocolate buttons, which won our affections. White chocolate buttons joined in, adding nothing but sugar. There were ‘pebbles’, which were giant, oblong smarties full of dairy milk. They had colour, crunch and the middle was reliably excellent. Finally there were ‘Mini-Oreos’, bringing creamy crumbliness.

I was skeptical about how much was going on at once. Too many great performers thrown together can be awful, see the film ‘Love Actually’.

All my testers said was ‘mmm’ and ‘yeah, these are nice’. To my surprise, this was a multi-sensory triumph.

Casino Les Desserts du Chocolatier – Gout Creme Brûlée

A huge hit. Silky chocolate encased delicious, solid condensed milk, full of crystals of burnt sugar. On quizzing my team, though, I found further cause to doubt their objective reliability:

Mikey: “Nice, because it doesn’t taste of creme brûlée”

Nana: “Lovely. It tastes just like creme brûlée”

Ligne Gourmande

A sugar-free choice, bought with Mum in mind. It was full of synthetic sweeteners which were so sickly, it almost tasted fizzy. In a word: rank.

Mikey: It doesn’t really taste of chocolate, more like chocolate flavoured lard

Nana: Far too sweet.

Ollie: Urgh.

Mum: I hate it most.

Cadbury’s Marvelous Creation’s ‘Cola Pretzel Honeycomb’

A huge slab of dairy milk filled with undetectable honeycomb; shards of soggy, over-salty pretzel and great slicks of cola-flavoured jelly. Too many things. It glacked up our mouths. Why would you put all those gorgeous things in such proximity? I like babies and I like bonfires, it doesn’t mean I want to see them share a lift.

Mum: Eating this has made me never want to eat chocolate again.

Hatty: A disaster.

Cathy: I’m not even trying it.

Cite D’or Citron Gingembre

A gorgeous dark chocolate full of crystalised lemon and ginger. It took you on a fairy tale adventure full of brave and wonderful tastes. This was one of my riskier buys which in my opinion it was the best of the lot.

Gary: Zingy. That’s great.

Mikey: Nice, because it just hints at those flavours, subtle.

Mum: A bit like Jamaica Rum. Real layers of flavour. The best.

Did I mention that Hatty is a teenager?

Hatty: It tastes just really, really dark.

Finally Nana, who had gone quiet for some time, eyes and lips pursed with joy, like Yoda.

Nana: Oh yes.

Milka – In Color

Milka filled with a rainbow of toddler’s eye-catching mini-smarties. I’ve always loved the light, malty flavour of Milka. Sadly, the crew didn’t all go in for this new incarnation of it:

Mum: It’s got a pop and a crunch

Hatty: Ugh, Mum! It’s just a pop.

There were no nuts in it, just chocolate filled shells.

Nana: The nuts get in my teeth

Finally, on team-Jess…

Ollie: Delicious. More please.

Hatty: Yeah, we’ll finish that.

Villars Larmes de Poires Williams

Milk chocolate tears full of (apparently pear-flavoured) meths. A horror show. I had to spit it out.

Cathy: It just tastes of alcohol.

Mum: It’s burning me. You’re not allowed this one, Hatty.

Gary: I like it. I’ve had four bits. Turn up the music. Just leave this song on repeat. I love you guys.

The rest of the UK chocolate was clunky and unremarkable. The French have access to better chocolate than us in their day-to-day shops. On mass, theirs was simultaneously braver yet more delicate than ours.

France win. Again.

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Peter Hitchens thinks it’s okay that Gary Barlow has avoided paying tax because it’s a shame that tax exists at all. What?

Yeah, I suppose it would be easier if we all just pretended we were the only person alive and behaved accordingly.

He says that we’re not morally obliged to pay tax, that we only do it because it’s the law. So long as whatever you do is within the law, it’s okay.

Fucking idiot.

He doesn’t like how taxes are spent. It would be impossible to spend our taxes in a way that everyone was happy with, but on a general level, exceptional failures aside, our taxes provide us with an utterly incredible health service, an amazing world-class education, military sorts, rozzers, support for if we’re unable to work AND a pair of houses full of meat-faced-men and other Romulans that we’ve picked, paid to run things. It’s how a civilised society works. A society full of humans which we acknowledge are gregarious and codependent and have some inkling of self-awareness and compassion. So of course we have a moral, as well as legal imperative to pay our taxes.

I’d love to see Peter survive in the completely dog-eat-dog, wholly-individualistic horror show of a world that he wishes for us all (like if UKIP ever got in) where we’re all just roaming, indifferent to the needs of others and unconfined by shitty formalities like ‘any responsibility’ or ‘compromise’ or ‘sharing’. Imagine watching him try, it would be like when Joey Essex was on The Cube all over again.

Avoidance, evasion. Who cares? If something isn’t illegal that doesn’t make it okay. Most omissions aren’t criminal in English law so in theory you could pass a child drowning in a pond and it wouldn’t be illegal not to try and help it. I can just imagine Peter’s offaly wet smile as he walked on by. Probably humming Dione Warwick, singing ‘walk on by’. It’s not against the law, so it’s fine. It’s not against the law to cheat on your partner, it’s not against the law to lie, it’s not against the law to self-harm, IT’S NOT AGAINST THE LAW TO TRY AND GET OFF WITH A WASP, PETER. Are those things fine? Are they what Gary Barlow’s fans would have wanted?

The law tries to make sure we all pay a fair amount of tax according to what we earn, it’s just that people are sometimes selfish and greedy, so it’s always having to catch up. The word ‘loophole’ doesn’t suggest a glaringly benevolent choice does it? The very fact that it’s called a loophole hardly makes it stink of legitimacy.

Imagine that all together we live on a mountain. Say one path is covered in fragile houses, so there’s a giant, clear sign that says ‘Do Not Cross’. A loophole doesn’t make you think of a lovely bridge that’s appeared, made of rainbows, it makes you think of a tunnel. And you don’t, Peter, proudly bound through a tunnel – let alone defend anyone else who does. You scuttle through a tunnel, like a rat or maybe a small pig, because you know you’re doing something wrong. And the more people who tunnel through the mountain the more it will lose its structural integrity and eventually it’ll collapse.

Personally, I couldn’t give a shit whether Gary gives his OBE back, I’m just glad he’s having to cough up. I do think, as a person of influence, he should probably set a better example. I think he should apologise especially for using a fake scheme that purported to be doing something particularly worthy, that’s pretty low. But I’m not gutted that a ‘treasure’ has had his character smeared, nor will anyone else be who already knew he was a Tory party donor. What a surprise David Ham-Cheeks hasn’t seemed to care as much about this one. Nor is it surprising that Gary hasn’t seen fit to say anything valuable about it himself. Will he ever offer a meaningful or convincing apology or explanation? Probably not – but then that’s fine. As long as he’s just avoiding it. If he actually evades explaining himself, or aggressively avoids it – well then he’s bang out of order. Yeah?

And in the absence of any defense he’s left with Peter Hitchens to champion his corner. One of our nation’s proudest bigots. If YOU are ever in a position to help Mr Hitchens, remember, only do it, even if it’s open a door for him, please, only do it, if it would be illegal not to.

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There are local and european elections coming up and I don’t feel like enough people care.

I totally get it that government doesn’t feel like it works at the moment, this coalition are all power happy liars, but I still think we need to care, and that means we need to vote. The most interesting point that the anti-Europe lobby has is that it is some disembodied room of strangers, far away, dictating to us, who we don’t even know. Well that means whether you want to be in the EU or not, we need to get to know it and that means we need to vote.

Democracy only works if the people we have the option of voting for don’t lie about what they will do if they get power. That’s why the lib dems are fucked. People talk about the danger that Farage represents, but at least he’s obviously and openly evil. Clegg has done more damage to our trust in any potential leaders, by choosing power over promises, than Farage could do even if one day, he actually got any votes. But then who needs votes if you’re going to get as much air time as Clare Balding even without any.

Clegg is like Littlefinger and Farage is a White Walker.A, no doubt, exclusively-White Walker. An exclusively straight, White Walker.

But despite the fact we can’t trust any of the centre-right politicians in the main parties I don’t think that means we shouldn’t vote. As long as there is ideology and discourse and a belief in democracy being the fairest type out of all the even more flawed alternatives (what does Russell Brand actually want? A bofftocracy?)… we have to vote. And there is still ideology and it’s not complicated. There are goodies and baddies. Greens and UKIP. The former will appeal to the hopeful, the optimistic, the diverse and the compassionate and the latter to the racist, elitist and most worryingly to the scared and hungry. Unfortunately there are a disproportionate number of scared, hungry people at the moment. SO… so that we don’t end up with a neo-nazi government whose party colour is purple in honour of all their gouty noses then all the people in the middle or who believe in anything other than big gay floods, or even people who can’t decide if they’re interested should get fucking interested and start piping up.

The word vote comes from the Latin for to vow or to wish. You have to wish. Imagine you’re a kid and your Dad brings out your cake with the candles on it, everyone’s singing and giving you the three cheers and it gets to you blowing out the candles and you don’t. Are you that lazy? Or you can’t think of anything that you want? Seriously? You already think everything that should be, is? I don’t believe you.

Or maybe you just don’t think you’ve got the time or the energy. You do though, because believe me, if anyone can’t be arsed it is me, and I bother voting. There are some ways in which I’m so lazy would frustrate a student, but I still vote.

I never quite close again, any cupboard that I open. But I do bother to vote.

I change my bedsheets once every month, or so. That’s right. Or so. But I vote.

Sometimes I wear the same pants two days  in a row just because I went to sleep in them and it’s quicker than changing them. But I still vote.

I haven’t brushed my hair since 1997. But I still vote.

Once, so that I could stay sat exactly where I was, I blew my nose in a tea-towel. Yep. Actually did that. As an adult. I wasn’t even on my own. But I still vote. YOU CAN DO IT BY POST.

So you can be arsed.

Register to vote any time until 6th May

God I hope my Mum doesn’t read this. Becuase she already votes. That and the bit about the tea-towel.

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It’s Siblings week, or day, or something. And soon it’s ‘Sandwich Week’. Sandwich Week.

Yep. I’ve thought about it and decided that Sandwich Week can probably get banged. Can’t it? Not that I don’t love a sandwich. Not only is it a delicious snack, but geographically it’s also the home of the incredible posh alcoholics on Googlebox who we all loved until they sympathised with Farage on the basis he ‘likes a drink’. But that’s not Sandwich’s fault. Go Sandwiches! I’m massively pro-Sandwich. But giving a basic foodstuff a week of celebration is just about getting people to spend money.

Siblings day, although fair enough, could also become a franchise where we feel obliged to buy cards and mugs and candles and flowers and shit, is in concept at least, less ridiculous. I don’t take such issue with the subtler, more emotionally manipulative capitalist constructs, such as ‘Sibling Day’ because I’m both a blinkered sop and oxymoronically self-confessed as gullible. That and I didn’t have any siblings until I was sixteen so I feel insanely grateful for mine, even though I’m more like a weird young corruptive aunt than a normal type of sister to them, because of the age gap. And my lifestyle. Anyway, it’s a lovely role to have in anyone’s life.

In the context of the last few hundred years though, we now have lives more devoid of routine and unity and consistency than ever before with regards to family, or I certainly do, and it’s as important, I think, to make time to think about them, as much as it is to actually see them and communicate with them. Relatives are the only people who will (almost) always have to forgive you when you’re a twerp. Apparently basil and peppermint are related. Who knew? Basil and shitting peppermint. It’s like finding out that Tim and Jeremy Vine are brothers, all over again. Almost impossible.

So I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite of my sibling quotes of recent years:

James (aged 11 to my beautiful friend Howerska, who joined us on a day out in London): “Yeah, in a few years I’ll be getting my own place, I’ll probably drink coffee all the time and I’ll just swear whenever I want”

James (aged about 9)… I said “God your hair’s so much darker in the winter without the sun on it for a while, it’s like you’ve dyed it”. He replied “You should see how dark it is when its wet.”

Hatty (aged about 3) when I uncorked a bottle of wine, spontaneously exclaimed “Mummy’s Pop!”

Hatty (aged 14) “I love you so much, almost as much as I love Miranda” this, incidentally, isn’t a bad thing, if she loved me more than she loves Miranda it would genuinely too much love.

And Amy, aged about 8, after I took her round an historical tourist attraction where she held a medieval mannequin of a character’s (he’d been hung drawn and quartered) pretend entrails and I had held his pretend heart, made out of tights and paint and what not, later explained to her Mum: “Jess held the brains and I held the string of poos”

They’re all turning into great big, sweaty, brilliant teenagers now so these sorts of glorious nonsenses are likely to dry up as they become all self-conscious, mature and intellectual. Balls.

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Twice upon a time there was a soldier called Penny who lived in a disused oil tanker in an arid land.

The first time upon a time, jack all had happened to her really before a robo-crone got her.

It was a blustery day, a sand storm was cooking on the outside but Penny paid that no heed as she intended to spend that entire session of waking hours unwinding indoors. Not that her tanker had more than one door. Every single one of her two necklaces had got tangled up inside the small netted pocket of a massive rucksack, and they needed picking apart. She’d put the whole day aside. She sat back, still in her futuristically militaristic jim jams, in her lounging chair that she’d made out of a giant 1990s Sky dish, nestled into a bean bag which she’d made out of a some beans and a bag.

She scratched her smelly face and set about untangling her first necklace. She wasn’t even five tries into getting her nail edged under the heftiest silver-plated chain knot when there was a ring on her Skper Brick. She had her ring tone set to a recent cover by Susan Boyle of an ancient Chaka Demus and Pliers hit “She Don’t Let Nobody”.

‘How old must Susan be now?’ Penny mused ‘300?’. She preferred Sue’s version, the original had apparently been about sexual acts which Penny was above, so she preferred this modern version, which Susan insisted took its inspiration from a lady who refuses to rent any person or peoples out.

“Sergeant Penny’s Residence” she answered, formally. Up popped a grinning cartoon carton the tiny screen of her brick.

“Have you considered turning your bed into a kitchen and freeing up an extra room for even more milk?”

Crackle, snap, she cut it off.

She resolved then and there to refraggle her coding so that these spam calls couldn’t sniff her out. She set to it with some satisfyingly heavy keyboard tapping even though she could have just done it in her mind.

‘Agh’ she’d forgotten to put her necklace down. Now the twat was even more wound up in mega knots.

She patiently got stuck back into the task literally in hand (the necklace) but then out it rang again, those so beautifully cleansed lyrics

“All day I go on

I shuffle around the world…”


“Sergeant Penny’s Residence” she piped up, perhaps a touch brusque.

“Just responding to your twink babes”

It was a lonely man.

“I didn’t twink at you Rogan”

“I wish you had”

His real name was Josh but he asked everyone to call him Rogan. Said it all really.

“Why aren’t you at work today? We’ve got a barrier to secure at a riot and some magazines to load”

He was guessing at what she did everyday as a sergeant, he was only a weasel, the lowest rank of soldier. He mainly did actual soldering.

She just stared at him. He’d got about half of her goat. She kept her face expressionless, the injections helped, but inside she was an unheady casserole of hatred and pity.

“Come to work babes. You’ve got some files to shoot and some flood victims to wring out” he was witting off in such a shit way.

She just stared.

“Penny, I want a go on you”

Crackle, snap, she cut him off.

‘How many times?’ she thought ‘I hate sex as much as I hate specs’

Specs was a slang term for a group of cyber dissidents who filmed through their secret glasses and were always going round with illegally captured footage, telling on people, for stuff. That was her real job, most recently, wheedling out those turds, for the King. Or turning them into King’s slaves.

Where had the necklace gone? She must have flung it somewhere while she was passive aggressing lonely Rogan.

“Shithouse” she bleated. Crawling on the floor. That one had been her favourite necklace, her most precious. Not because of its monetary value but because her Mum had given it to her, just before she last got frozen, which was just after she was born.

“Oh shitty shit nuggets” she crowed to the no-one there. She felt a sob brewing. “I need that” she bubbled “it’s lucky” and her flabby brain started stressing through all the ways and times she believed that necklace to have saved her life. Eight times. Once a dart had pinged off it during a pub fight and another seven times that were way less plausible but she should have definitely died at least once in an air traffic accident by now. She was nearly 96.

Suddenly the brick blared up again, singing

“Other guys try

To hold her hand

Other guys want

A one night stand…”

“AGH! WHAT NOW?!” She screamed! Silence. Then it came, a glorious, heart-thawing chuckle.

“Oh my God” she turned and her worst fears came true. It couldn’t be! A direct call from the King of the Universe? To her? It was! The greatest leader of all time, so far. A man so wise and so authoritative that he’d kept himself extremely young and handsome so that everyone would want to be him, love him, envy him and want to eat him. There he was, on the screen! It had to be him! He wore the official rocking horse emblem of the Royal House and kept some breakfast on to prove he was the real King because only the real King could start the day with a yogurt no less.

Holy Moles. There he was.

“How dare I have been so rude? I’m so sorry your honour” she squeaked.

“Please” he chuckled “Call me Hdraayyyzzzhjs”

But she didn’t know how. So she leant forward and pecked the air, as if kissing his tiny virtual hand, like the confused loser she had become.

“Subject” he was terrible with names “Listen carefully”

She did.

“You have won!” his voice did sound a bit of robot, but she didn’t notice.

There was an awkward silence. Penny didn’t know what she had won. He said it again.

“You’ve won!”

Weakly she responded “Yay.”

“Well done”

Even more feeble “Yipee.”

Nothing happened for what felt like ages (ages).

“Thank you”

“You’re welcome” and he crackled and snapped himself off.

Penny looked down and there was her necklace, bundled up under her knee all along. ‘Finding that, is that what I’ve won? But how could he? He’s not magic, he’s just…’

Her thoughts trailed off like a real life ellipses, until eventually her mind was blank. Empty as a sausage. Cavernous. Devoid to the point that you can almost hear the nothing sitting there, waiting. Only in that utter darkness of calm, when she was essentially reset, did she realize what had just happened to her. It was so many lifetimes ago that she entered the competition she’d forget the sequence, the solution. She was going to be defrosted again.

The Middle.

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An angry yoga teacher. Her class was full of people who hadn’t booked in but that’s by the by, she’s always annoyed, always sighing and snapping. She stresses me out. Her career’s adviser was rubbish.

Then because I there was no room in yoga I went to the gym but with no shoes on because I hadn’t brought any. Luckily no-one noticed because a) there was a man with tattoos on his face to see b) there was a man who was sweating more than anyone I’d ever been before, risking flooding his treadmill and c) it was in Lewisham.

Then there was a swimming instructor who smiled at me then completely unsmiled, she must have thought I was someone else to have smiled in the first place. I like her because she’s an odd body and brilliantly for a swimming instructor, she’s almost always carrying some crisps.

Then an old lady with freckly arms loads of green eye shadow stared at me for ages but it was because I was having to dry my hair and self with sweaty gym clothes because I’d forgotten a towel. What?

Then on a train to the north I sat opposite a glamorous lady who was technically in my seat and wondered if perhaps I was her from another Universe. A Universe where I cared about my hair. Then she revealed her copies of the Daily Mail and Closer magazine and I stopped wondering anything of the sort.

Also on the train was a girl with eyes so shiny and brown I could see my reflection in them. Three young ladies who all looked fresh out of a festival but weren’t and they were talking very loudly about all the drugs they’d tried but it only made me certain they hadn’t ever tried any really good ones and wondered if they’d been on the same train as Sam Bain and Jesse Armstron a few years ago. And there was a couple of men with shaved heads except for a bleached, forward combed tufts, with green puffy jackets and punk’s things dangling off their jeans and cans of Carling to guzzle. They didn’t look complete without a scary dog.

Then when I got where I am and sat in a bar all afternoon I stopped noticing anyone until a man in a suit came in the door and shouted “hadkas ajkasksdk asasasas MAN SHITTY anmamnjkdskj”.


People today.

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My new years resolutions this year are all massive and etherial, the love children of the Michelin Man and Galadriel. I’m going to try and deal better with situations of powerlessness, to define myself by my successes, to be more patient without being any less ambitious and to stop drinking pints of beer.

There’s no mysterious philosophy behind the pints one. It’s just because of the lard. The lard because of the sheer mass of the liquid. And I do love on wine as well, so I’m just really focussing on my relationship with that for a year. I’m totally fine with it. I’m not. I miss it already, bubbly, chilly, golden yum yum.

On the other things: a train-bastard bullied me to tears a very little while ago. Unbeknownst to me my oyster hadn’t beeped me ‘in’ and I’ll keep it brief but he’d raged off at me “YOU HAVE NO INTENTION OF EVER PAYING YOU THIEF”. There was six times the required fair on my card, I had every intention of paying. He then loudly pretended I was refusing to pay his fine or sign his form, both of which I was up for. Mental. He then read me my rights as if arresting me and promised me, after I’d given him my address, that apparently he would “have me followed”.

Lets not beat about the bush, he was a power-happy psychoprick. A sadly common creature in positions of some small authority across the whole world, let our beloved rail network. Nevertheless it shook me, it was a crazy and humiliating scenario when essentially technology failing me meant for a very public verbal-pounding full of odd threats.

It is the powerlessness of the situation that rankled most, though. I let the rage pass and made a formal complaint. I was sadly assured I’d have no recourse to find out the result of the complaint, another steel boot cap to the control-of-my-own-destiny-stores.

But I persisted. I applied for CCTV footage, but it only proved I ‘tapped something’, not necessarily an oyster card, because of the poor picture quality. Again, technology showing me it’s apparently ever strengthening middle finger.

And I waited. Luckily, no-one came round to imprison or murder me. Over a month later I got a letter asking for £55. By this point I quite liked the idea of £55 not to have to keep one suspicious claw near the baseball bat anymore. We haven’t really got a baseball bat, regular readers will be pleased to know it is in fact a large torch.

But I’d already paid double the fair (when I’d tapped out at the end of that journey that day, without having tapped in) and it still stung that this crap man in a uniform had openly ruded and wronged me.

I decided not to be a sloth and collected up my ‘evidence’, the oyster reports and CCTV requests and wrote an appeal explaining that I’d already paid a fine effectively and that their inspector would perhaps be better suited to a job in boxing, butchery, or the City.

And I won.

I know. I’m as shocked as you. Some fights are worth fighting, it seems.

All my resolutions combined in that one incident and conclusion. How lovely it would be to celebrate with cold, golden, delicious, full-sized drink.

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Miliband says he’s going to build 200,000 more homes a year by reclaiming land from developers if they’re not house-building.

No doubt those lazy developers were going to waste everyone’s time building another Aldi or theme park. Or an ‘Aldi theme park’ where you’d get to ride a giant bratwurst, candy floss is presented on temptingly cheap litter pickers and where you lose all your money on a stall where you have to out-pack the cashier’s fastest beeping you’ve ever seen to the point where they’re so much faster at beeping than you are at packing that they run out of space and just start throwing the things you’ve just bought on the floor. Fun! But, not as fun as houses. I agree Ed.

I do love a supermarket and I do love a theme park but I need, a house.

And Ed, I’ve got an idea of how to help: make everyone be builders.

Imagine if just for a few days, every single one of us was a builder.

Some of you have panicked.

There’s no reason anyone would suffer from a lack of any basic need fulfillment. There’s nothing to say builders couldn’t also do surgery, fight crime and tell jokes.

We’d all have a respectable and defined profession where there was a tangable end product for our work. How lovely. We’d get a helmet each and a bright vest. And there’d be no snobbery about it, because we’d all be builders, there would only be that one profession.

It would make some phrases confusing though, wouldn’t it?

After a long drive in the sun, it wouldn’t quite make sense to say “ugh, I’ve given myself builder’s arm”.

People would expect it to be just like your other arm, all strong.

You’d have bachelors in nightclubs saying to their baffled mates things like “don’t bother trying to get off with Ethel tonight, she’s got the builders in”.

What? Her undercecks are made of scaffolding?

You’d never be able to chant to your mate Dave “Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave… you’ve got a builder’s bum”

If anything, Dave would say ‘thank you’, relieved that he didn’t have some sort of singularly lone freak’s buttocks.

It would be infuriating wouldn’t it, actually?

‘I’d like a builder’s dozen please?’

‘What, 12?’

‘No, 13’

‘What are you on about then?!’

‘Oh God, sorry’

So, thinking about it, it means we wouldn’t be able to use other jobs’ names in our language thereby rendering language slightly more boring.

Actually, I’ve decided it’s a terrible idea. Sorry Ed. Carry on.

P.s. Also, as well as houses, please may we have an Aldi Theme Park? I’d live in it. Cheers.

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Literally. I am a stand up comedian with a recurring anxiety-dream which I don’t think I’ll have again, because on Saturday it came true.

If I’m fretting about something proper, like hospital results or if I’ll ever see Sarah Lund again, I sometimes have this nightmare, I get it a couple of times a year.

It’s been set in various places over my life, depending on where I’m up to, the playground; University; the dole queue. These days it’s always at a gig. It’s big and lovely and all going well. I’ll be mid-joke and someone will shout out, clearly and pointedly “you’re fat”. “ You are too fat”. Often they will keep shouting it. And I won’t know what to do about it. They’re not drunk. They’re not trying to be funny. They are just saying it, because it’s what they think. And it breaks my heart.

I’m a size 14. I drink too many pints but I eat healthily, I do loads of exercise and I’m genuinely happy in my shell. I’ve grown out of wishing I was a waif and I’m no supermodel but I’d totally still do me.

The nightmare comes from the fact that in my late teens I was massive, then I lost five stone in a year. Also, my Dad brought me up by obsessively encouraging snacks and seconds, whilst simultaneously making it very clear that he found fat people repulsive. So this dream comes out when I’m scared because for me personally, it’s the most humiliating thing that could ever happen.

On Saturday night it happened.

I’m MCing a lovely gig to a few hundred people. We’re getting on really well but one lady is strange. When I’d asked them anything, collectively or individually like “are we up for a fun night?” or “what’s your favourite piece of stationary?” this lady keeps shouting “NO.”

I said she sounded a bit negative, so I did some jokes just for her (not about her, not cruel in any way, just one-liners) to cheer her up, she was clearly keen for some attention. She said she didn’t like jokes. I checked she knew where she was. She seemed to laugh then.

We moved on. The first act did great.

I came back on for the second section and a few minutes into a fun conversation with a chap called Paul about melting ice she, Sonia was her name, out of nowhere, clearly shouted “you’re too fat.”

I caught my breath. I must have misheard it. But from the audience gasps, I knew I hadn’t.

“What did you say?”

“You’re too fat”

“What? What. Why would you say that?”

“Because you’re fat”

Oh. God. I felt my eyes burning. It kicked me in the stomach and up between my ribs, and right there left a mango sized ball of pain. The sort you get when you’re unexpectedly dumped by someone you’re in love with. The sort that makes you wretch. The sort you know is going to be really hard to gets the knots out of and it’s going to sit there, a lump of hatred, hurting, for much longer than that moment.

In my stunned silence, with no prompting from me the audience began to chant at her “out out” and worse, much worse. In hindsight, I think that’s what she’d wanted. She was sober, calm and not trying to be funny. No-one who liked themselves could be that randomly cruel, unprovoked. And hundreds of people chanting abuse at her, me, to my shame, eventually included, was no doubt the masochistic affirmation she’d craved. Who knows.

Now, unlike the dream, I did deal with it. Not perfectly. But I didn’t walk off. I didn’t give up. Instead I admitted it was the most unpleasant thing I’d ever heard. This bits a blur but I swore at her too, horribly, I lost it, I asked her to leave. She didn’t. Realising she was about to be thrown out, she began apologising, but still incredulous. I’m a human before I’m a comedian. I still feel sick.

Then I appeared to get myself together, it was all very quick. I reassured her that the next two acts were quite thin. Later I came back on carrying a giant billboard I’d found backstage, so that “Sonia can concentrate on what I’m saying”. But in those first moments after she said it, I certainly could have been more nuanced but it was my specific nightmare, coming true, verbatim. And I doesn’t make me ‘not strong enough to be a comedian’, I’m a human, and it really, really hurt.

The rest of the audience, the staff and the booker were shocked and very kind to me.

Here’s the thing, should I have been so surprised? I’m far from thin, I know that. And I know that I do a job where I’m asking to be looked at, if not as much as listened to. And I know that some audiences still think that shouting abuse at comedians is helpful, as thankfully rare as they’re becoming. Should I have had a bit of material ready for exactly this occasion? No. Even if I was still massive, no. Even if I was the actual elephant in the room, no.

Short of having grown a carrot out of your forehead or looking so much like a celebrity that people might be confusing you with that actual celebrity, it is boring to hear comedians addressing their appearance. Especially in a self-deprecating way. It’s done and it’s dull and it only encourages audiences to care more about your figure or your face than your jokes.

I’m not a comedian to abuse people, or to get laid, I want to make people laugh. I’m there to be judged on my jokes. I work in clubs full of stags and hens that are notoriously riotous, I’ve everything shouted at me from “my tits are better than yours” to “whens the raffle?” but it’s never been meant to hurt me. This was a freak occurrence of genuine cruelty from an obviously damaged woman and comedically preparing for it to happen again would be a rookie waste of my time, and more broadly, would only incite it.

The day a size 14 woman needs to have material about how grotesque she is, before she’s heckled about it, that’s the day I will give up. And I don’t believe that is this day.

Unless this is the start of a pattern, and it turns out that all of my recurring nightmares are going to come true now. In which case you best start getting tooled up, because there’s also a zombie apocalypse coming too.

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