(This photo has absolutely nothing to do with anything.)

When I wrote about our Edinburgh ghost walk this weekend, I forgot to tell you how I ended the evening: by almost setting a restaurant on fire.

We’d booked a table at a restaurant near the Vaults, so that when our tour was finished, we could just hop across the road and grab something to eat.  When we arrived, though, we were told that the restaurant’s credit card machine had broken down, so it was cash only. Well, no problem: as usual, neither of us had any cash on us, but there was an ATM just a couple of minutes away, so Terry headed off to get some money while I began the lengthy process of divesting myself of all of my many layers of outerwear. Because it was October, and we’d be walking around outdoors at night, you see, I’d assumed it would be freezing, but, of course, last weekend was actually unseasonably warm, so by the time I arrived at the restaurant, I felt like I was fresh out of an oven.

This feeling only intensified as I sat down to take a look at the menu. In fact, as I scanned through it, I became more and more convinced that I could smell something burning. Given the terrible tales of FIRE we’d just heard in the Vaults, and my overheated state, I was pretty sure the “something” must be me. “I knew it!” I thought feverishly. “A demon has totally followed me out of that haunted stone circle, and now I’m about to spontaneously combust. Why does this sort of thing always happen to ME?”

But it wasn’t me that was burning.

It was my menu.

My menu which I had somehow managed to dip into the candle on the table, and which was now ON FIRE: and I’m talking huge flames leaping towards the ceiling, probably going to burn down the whole restaurant if I don’t do something about it NOW. THAT kind of “on fire”.

What I chose to do first of all, was to shriek loudly, as if I was being attacked by the fire. It was completely involuntary, and, yes, quite embarrassing actually, now you come to mention it. Then I had to throw the menu to the floor and STAMP on it to get the flames out. GOD.

I thought I’d gotten away with it. The restaurant, you see, was a kind of T-shape, and it so happened that the other patrons, plus the waitress, all happened to be in a part of the T which my table wasn’t visible from when the burnin’ happened. So I sat back down and tried to read my now-burned menu, thinking no one would be any the wiser.

A few seconds later, however, Terry arrived back from the ATM and confirmed that he had noticed the smell of burning as soon as he’d opened the door, and had known instantly that it would have something to do with me. I would take offence at this, but, let’s face it, I have form with this kind of thing, having previously set a flower on fire in another restaurant.

(And then a minute later, the waitress appeared and offered me another menu, presumably having witnessed the whole thing. They probably have it on CCTV or something.)

That’s why I will now answer to the name “The Firestarter”. Or, if you prefer, “Twisted Firestarter”.

It’s a good job I don’t smoke, eh? Just imagine the trouble I’d get into THEN!


(Also: once I’d finished telling Terry this sorry tale, his first question to me was “Did you take a photo of it?” I really need to blog less…)


  1. oh no, sorry to hear about your mishap..pesky menus alwasy seem to have a tendency to catch on fire though, so i don’t think it’s your fault amber!

  2. I’m much too AFRAID of fire to be a firestarter. Part of the reason why I’ve never smoked is that I can’t light matches. That said, I think the menu thing could happen to anyone.

    My ex once set fire to his own FOOT while talking to me on the phone. We were chatting away and then he started wailing, following up by telling me he’d set fire to his foot. He sounded surprised – and I was concerned til he told me he’d been setting light to his socks. His own socks. WHILE THEY WERE ON HIS FEET.

    1. ?!?!? Seriously?! That’s… something not even I would do, and that’s saying something!

      I’ve always been a bit afraid of fire, too: I remember when I was a kid I used to be absolutely paranoid that the house would burn down: even the sight of a burned-out building would freak me out for days. I think small restaurant tables would probably be better off without candles, though, all things considered!

      1. Well he was a bit of a div, to be fair. A lovely lad, all things considered, but only a dipstick of the highest order would be surprised that your foot going on fire could be a possible consequence of setting fire to your socks.

        I think I got my fear of fire from my mum – the house I grew up in had an open fire and a backboiler for heating the radiators and everything, and my poor mum was so terrified of the chimney going on fire – fair enough, like, so I got that from her. Still if it means I have never set fire to my own feet then I’m happy enough with that! x

  3. I always get worried when you get “helpful” people (usually drunk men with cigarette lighters) who see a snag say on your top (usually it’s a fabric you can’t pull the snag back through on) and they set fire to it! It does work but you have to remember to pat yourself out before your whole top goes up…..I think it’s just an excuse for the drunk man to grope! LOL!

    I hope if you’re planning on staying a firestarter that you don’t adopt the green double mohican hairstyle!! 😛

    1. *hides green hair dye under chair*

      I must admit, no one has ever tried to do that to me, thank God: I guess they probably realise I’m more than capable of ruining my clothes all by myself!

    2. A few weeks ago, a rather drunk guy set his frayed Levi’s on fire. He just wanted an excuse to snuff them out against my leather jeans.

  4. Hahaha this is hilarious! It must have been slightly traumatic for you, but I’m giggling thinking about you stamping the fire out. I once leaned back on a chair and set fire to the back of my hair on a candle that was on the windowsill behind me.

  5. No one has asked the most important question: were your shoes OK when you were stamping out the flames?! Hope they weren’t your Louboutins…

  6. No one has asked the most important question: were your shoes OK when you were stamping out the flames?! Hope they weren’t your Louboutins or any other expensive ones…

    1. Oh yeah… I was just wearing black boots: had to wear something fairly “sensible” for the ghost walk in case it was raining or whatever, so no expensive shoes were harmed in the making of this post 🙂

  7. That must have been quite an experience. A few months ago, I managed to set fire to a napkin by putting it too near to a candle at our local restaurant. Trying to be discrete, I put it onto my lap under the table and managed to scrunch it out against my jeans with my hands (fortunately I was wearing leather pants). A rather drunk guy spotted what had happened and decided to set the frays on his Levi’s alight with a lighter, looking for an excuse to crush them out against my leather jeans. Starting a fire while eating at a restaurant can be quite fun at times. I hope that you were wearing tough jeans when you had to stomp your fire out and you did not singe too much hair off your legs.

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