Way back when – titter ye not – I was the, ahem, showbiz correspondent for a national tabloid.

And a great old job it was too – meeting the headliners for interviews, racketing about the studios in London, and generally behaving in the disreputable manner befitting a twenty something member of the fourth estate.

The job bestowed two lasting gifts as well: the sure and certain knowledge that London is not, after all, the centre of the known universe, and the unfailing rule of thumb that the more talented folks were, the nicer they tended to be.

(The reverse was true too – the second raters thought it cool to be rude and obstructive.)

Which brings me to one of the more pleasant gigs I had last weekend, when I chaired a book launch in Edinburgh for the slice of Danish delight that is the multi talented Sandi Toksvig.

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In private, she proved exactly the same witty, thoughtful person you see on screen. Though much dialled down; as she says in her book, “there is a vast disconnect between the public show off and the shy book reader”.

But stick her in front of an adoring audience and she positively sparkles with a string of hilarious anecdotes delivered with consummate timing.

Among other revelations the Bake Off host confessed to not much caring for cake.

She also revealed that she did an audition for the original Have I Got News For You pilot, but was told that although hers was the better presentation, “you can’t have a woman making fun of the news!”

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She did of course have many years in charge of the News Quiz on the radio, and still hosts the brainy QI, the show guaranteed to make the rest of us feel properly inadequate.

Her Danish journalist and broadcasting father was clearly a huge influence, not to mention an entrée into some memorable moments in history.

Not many little girls watch the first man on the moon take his steps whilst she’s holding the hand of Neil Armstrong’s secretary.

Not that she’s exactly been a slouch as a grown up. This is a woman who has paddled a canoe up the Zambesi, sailed round the UK with John McCarthy (with whom she and her brother had once shared a flat) and rode a tandem round London with Bjorn from Abba.

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Her book is a memoir, but, unsurprisingly, not one like any other you’re likely to read.

Her vehicle, literally, is a Number 12 London bus, on which she’s been a regular from her home to the BBC, and the tales she tells hopping on and off.

Between The Stops has just been published by Virago Press, priced £20 in hardback.

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