If aliens landed tonight, how would we show them a good time?

If we could persuade them that our planet wasn’t quite such a mess it appears to be when examined from afar, we’d take them out for a bite to eat. And no matter what corner of earth we lived on, we’d all head for an unknown little pizza joint in North London with the same name as a god, and a rocket.

Apollo does what F Scott Fitzgerald said is the sign of a first rate intelligence: to hold opposing views simultaneously and still function.  Yes, Apollo appears to be both 373 years old and deliciously temporary, a one-night only sour-dough-supper like nonna used to bake. Yes yeast, you really know how to make a human happy. Never has a tomato and garlic base ever thumped so many buds so hard for so long with so much love.

The music behaved like a wayward father coming home stoned and slinging on his vinyl from the days before he settled down and made mum pregnant. Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen may be cheesy on the radio, but here, now, with a needle gathering fluff, it makes you want to holler in between mouthfuls of oohmmyeah.

So starve yourself, head for 160 Stokey High Street, N16 7JL and take the alien with you.



It’s all very boysy isn’t it?

On average, each episode of this long-running never-changing quiz features (if we’re lucky) one woman.

And 7 men.

8 if you count Mr Paxman.


Females outnumber males by 10% at universities across Britain. Girls are a third more likely to start a degree than boys, and the ratio gallops by the time they graduate. Some institutions stray damn close to single sex. And the numbers are rising.

So where are the women when it comes to University Challenge?

If this was the BBC there would be an outcry. Hang on, it is. So why isn’t there one? C’mon Auntie Beeb, redress the balance before we start to call you Uncle.

I’ve got an idea: let’s introduce the gender equivalent of the Rooney Rule. If football can own up and open up then so can you.

And while we’re there, here’s another thought. How about Emily Maitlis or Victoria Derbyshire stepping in for Jeremy Paxman as they did to spice up Newsnight? At the least, he could do a Grayson Perry now and again to even up the numbers.  Or, if you’re reading Tony Hall, and you truly want to show how neutral this noble organisation is, how about a transgender host?

Then again, it’s about brains, not bodies.