It’s been getting very busy lately near where I work in Westminster. You can judge the seriousness of the political situation by how high the TV towers get opposite the houses of parliament.
These last few weeks they have been positively teetering with journalistic excitement, as anchors plant themselves outside at all hours, out of shape politicians and talking heads huffing up the scaffolding stairs to sound off.
I remain detached from this hectic cut and thrust of the action and the people who tell everyone else what action is happening, but I do like to wander past every now and then to see all the crazies with their handmade flags and placards.
This is broadly speaking how I found myself working late on a Brexit night, leaving the office at an advanced hour and in need of a certain je sais exactly quoi.
I wandered into the Laughing Halibut chip shop, bustling into an old guy on his way out who was trying to chat to the staff. I was craning my neck on the way in, trying to see what the situation was vis a vis the side dishes. Those fish cakes were looking particularly nice, for instance.
The old guy was still chuntering away, but there was something familiar about that, what was it, a Welsh lilt? And blow me if it wasn’t the news’s Huw Edwards, fresh from his evening comestibles. It’s a whole different kettle of fish and chips when you find yourself sitting down in a restaurant to munch away at a plate of chips.
I’m sure someone of Huw’s stature should be out running the stocks of champagne dry before we can’t import anything from abroad, but there he was, among the people of Westminster. Perhaps it’s a foreshadowing of the Brexit future to come, as the great and the low are equalised in the rationing of fresh vegetables. ‘Let them eat chips’, a Northern Irish MP recently cried in the Commons. I can think of worse futures – especially if it involves dining at the Laughing Halibut, with its celebrity sex appeal.
I eschewed my usual sausage and chips in favour of a fish cake. I was a little breathless from my close celebrity encounter, which probably explained why I burned my mouth on the first chip – nothing left to blow on it.
The chips were delicious – served in a delightful paper bag, the potato a perfectly judged waxy number that gave a bit of crunch on the outside but slid down the throat when nudged. The danger of hoiking your frites around in a sack is that they all congeal together in a giant mass of soggy potato, but these were nicely done. There’s a very real danger that they’ve ruined me for my local.
Politicians of all stripes simply love to invoke the famed Blitz spirit at every opportunity – really we’ve got nothing to thank our forebears for their stoic defiance and mute resilience. In many ways I could stomach the lack of fresh vegetables, electricity rationing and rubbish piling up on the streets, but an Englishman’s chip shop is very close to his castle.
Value for money: 7/10
Verdict: You won’t want to leave.