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The London Eye

Chris Neill offers the cure-all for January blues (and it has nothing to do with sunshine)

Published on January 24th 2012.

The London Eye

GATHERED backstage during a gig, amongst stand-up comedians there are, as a rule, three main topics of conversation...

Whether the job pays cash gets top billing.

Secondly, which is the quickest route back to London?

And coming in at third place is the subject of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; an event seared on the mind of any comedian for its potential to lift you from being a hollow-eyed soul driving around the country late at night surviving on a mixture of service station food and bitterness to being the sort of turn TV producers want to lick . 

To the rest of mankind, Edinburgh is the beautiful capital city of Scotland but for comedians Edinburgh is a term interchangeable with the word August. In these backstage conversations the tone taken varies depending on which side of Edinburgh August the gig is taking place. 

In the months immediately before there will inevitably be one comic on the bill full of brio and dash about the brilliance of their ensuing show but if this paragon of optimism is encountered between September and the end of the year, their line is likely to be altogether different. Instead they recall the lack of audience, the three useless critics who turned up only to slag them off, the terrible Scottish weather which led to trench foot, their disgusting and unsanitary venue which could double as a plague pit, and how the whole execrable experience was all the fault of their overpaid PR and useless promoter. Oh, and the fact that they're £4000/£7000/£10,000 (delete as applicable) out of pocket. 

There's little to be said for the month of January but if you are a comedian working with other comedians the lack of festival prophesying or festival gloom is a small but significant consolation. And surely consolations, whatever their size, are needed at this time of year.

Just in case all the fibres in your being aren't already telling you that January is best viewed from bed, ideally in a state of heavy sedation, in recent years some psuedo-science called Blue Monday has popped up to confirm what everyone knew all along anyway. Through a combination of bad weather, debt and weight gain (both of the Christmas variety), and a long march through to any possible further holiday January, particularly the last Monday of the last full week in January, is truly, bloody vile.

Can I offer a glimmer of hope? Something which may even possibly put a spring in your wintry step? Are you agog? Well, don't be. Sit back and calm down. It's one of those small consolations of which I speak not a miracle cure. 


Fish And Chips. 

The happiest of non-grammatically correct sentences in the English language. Specifically, fish and chips from the wondrous The Fryer's Delight in Holborn's Theobald's Road. I'm not really sticking my neck out when I say it offers simply the finest oval platter of deep-fried excellence in the whole of London – eat there and my opinion becomes manifest. 

Pretty as a picture with its 1960s décor, the old place has been doling out reasonably-priced portions of good cheer for aeons. Poking about the internet there are the usual grumblings but ignore the naysayers for as you sit at a formica table with a newspaper and watch the rain stream down the windows, drink your tea and ponder the fact that something to sooth and coddle even the most January-ish of souls is on its way to you.

Upon its completion you will feel a little more centred, perkier and brighter even, and if you do have a smear of tomato ketchup on your shirt cuff see it less as a stain and more a memento of your visit. For one brief moment amongst the very worst of times it is the very best of times.


Chris Neill is a comedian, broadcaster and native Londoner. You can make him feel more popular than he actually is by following him at @chrisneill on Twitter.

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