Happy book-birthday, hurrah!


Happy book birthday!

And so the day is finally here, and true to form on publication day, I’ve spent most of my waking hours on various radio stations and chatting to journalists, not to mention signing a pile of 503 quite large and heavy books in the Penguin offices on the Strand. And now, finally collapsing in a quiet corner with a nice hot mug of tea, I thought I’d jot a few words down here.

It seems as though the ink is barely dry on the first book, A Girl Called Jack, when suddenly out of almost-nowhere this one has come along. Well, I wanted to write a book that summed up my year – from sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a room I shared with my son in a house share in July 2013 in an effort to get my life and finances back on track, all the way to where I am now, living in London and having lots of adventures. As my dad used to say, “it’s amazing how many nights it takes to become an overnight success” – and he’s absolutely right. Although ‘overnight success’ isn’t how I’d describe myself at all, the sentiment is the same; it takes a lot of hard work to get from a food bank queue to the top of a bestseller list! And yes, I’ve been extremely lucky along the way – contrary to popular belief (if the comments on the bottom half of the internet are to be paid any mind at all), when I started writing my blog I had no friends in politics other than a few local councillors I delivered leaflets for, and no friends in the media. As I started to write, cook and campaign, I met people and made friends along the way, and some of them remain very close friends, who have supported me greatly through many new and terrifying experiences.

So, I wanted to write a recipe book that was more like a mini-autobiography, with anecdotes and happy endings slotted in among cheap, seasonal recipes. I hope, for those of you holding a copy in your hands, that that’s what I’ve managed to do. It’s a bit political, a bit cheeky in places, and I sincerely hope that the person who wrote me a very long complaining email last week about ‘the use of innuendo in recipe writing’ hasn’t bought a copy or will skip the January-February chapter lest he explode with rage at a few sentences I’m amazed made it past the proof-readers and copy-editors… That’s all I’m saying!

I’m very proud of this book, of every dish loved and created and scribbled down in notebooks, of the tinned potatoes still kicking about in the ingredients lists and the long grain rice and the kidney beans, and I hope it brings you as much pleasure cooking from it, as it gave me to write it.

Thankyou all of you, for your support and kindnesses, in what has been a pretty good, and extraordinary, year.

And as ever, if you want to order it online, please order it at the Hive, who will send it to your local independent bookshop – support your local community bookshops please, because they are a joyous thing. (Link here:



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