Monday: St George’s Day, a little late that’s all
This was the view from my seat at the magnificently grand St George’s Day Club lunch on Monday. I was invited to speak about broadcasting to the 1,800 assembled here in London and got to the table straight after my Radio 2 show. We are all so unused to seeing the flag of England flown with pride and politeness that to sit here, eating roast beef within twenty feet of the Household Cavalry (help, is that correct?) and high-profile guests like Ian Botham with various distinguished and bemedalled service personnel . . . well, it was enlivening. And refreshing too. St George’s Day had been two days earlier but nobody minded. A late lunch, a great audience.
Tuesday: shoved over in my own studio
Our report said: experts believe dogs don’t like being hugged because it removes their ability to flee, which is a higher instinct for a dog than to stay and fight. May or may not be true. But what certainly is true, as I discovered, is that you should not try to go in for a cuddle with a strange dog who’s bigger than you. This is obviously now a radio rule:
Never hug a Great Dane live on air
This one, Pluto, was the size of a small horse and when he shifted his weight I fell. The clip caused so much hilarity that it featured on the Greg James show on Radio 1 and in the Guardian.
Wednesday: Night night, little one
Just a snap of mother and daughter. Our 9-year-old isn’t quite ready to sleep but mum is insisting (in a lovely way), as mums do. One day she’ll be older and elsewhere but for now she’s ours and we love her to bits.
Thursday: the Queens of Strictly
A secret fact known to only 500 people. These two BBC producers run Strictly. So if you were wondering who makes the show what it is, here they are: Louise Rainbow (on the right) and Vinnie Shergill. They are the ones who approached me initially last year and who helped me feel it would be fun . . . in the end it turned out to be even more fun than they promised. I will always be grateful. Their team might be as many as three hundred-strong if you count minicab drivers and the person who supplies Haribos to the green room. And for me the remarkable thing was that in the whole of 2015 there was not a single technical or production glitch that I spotted on air. I saw my two friends on the street last week while filming BBC Points of View and the affection is real. They didn’t tell me anything about this year’s cast, but I reckon they will already have approached at least half of them. How quickly the new season starts!
PS I keep thinking — is my hand in Vinny’s hair? Nope, it is someone else’s hand in the far background. Even the most real affection doesn’t allow me to touch Vinnie’s hair.
Thank-you, Coventry Telegraph…
. . . for giving this young man a job in November, 1986. The people who store all the photos from those years have starting tweeting archive pictures from the Coventry Evening Telegraph vaults so I was suddenly confronted by myself in tweed jacket and Christmas jumper, the young reporter who looks SO young it’s unreal! I want that hair back. But if I saw my 21-year-old self I would give him a big hug and a little lecture: take a little more time to smell the roses, Jeremy. Work is like a drug when you’re a journalist — it is so much fun it consumes you. But work is not everything. Lecture over.
Is this the famous ‘Velasquez Effect’?
Having given out a dozen awards at the Institute of Directors on Thursday, I went up on stage with the winners. As the photographer took our picture I noticed a mirror on the far wall. I took a photo in an attempt to recreate the famous painting Las Meninas, where the artist turns a portrait of the royal couple (far mirror, left of door) into a self-portrait by framing the picture as if it was through the eyes of the sitters. So in my photo you see between the heads of the award-winners to the mirror. The artist (the photographer) is on the left. Now I’m thinking that if anything needs that long to explain, it probably didn’t work.
Friday: the creative chalkboard
Coffee shops near Radio 2 are getting more and more creative in their bid to ensure it’s their coffee I buy. I saw one of these on Twitter where the pub said there was a charging system for answering calls “from the wife”: you could pay to have the pub tell her you hadn’t been in, or for a greater charge they would say they hadn’t heard of you, or you were off shopping for a present for her, etc. This one I like especially. The first cup of coffee of the day does have a near-religious significance sometimes.
Four signs a studio is broken
The Radio 2 news studio did not look in a good way on Friday. The trained eye can see the signs:
1. The Sherlock-Holmes style black bag, possibly containing hacksaws
2. The screwdrivers, including the famous “red number 5” used to repair my desk in 2011 after a water spill
3. That’s not a newsreader, that’s an engineer
4. A plug on the desk with both ends disconnected is a very serious sign of trouble
And PS, this is the maddest question I asked all week
(The tweet was about our item on the risk of a human owner passing conjunctivitis to their budgie)