Monthly Archives: November 2009

Tempus Fugit on Radio 4

Hasn’t Christmas come round quickly this year?
Why does time speed up the older you get?
Why does it fly when you’re having fun, but drag when you’re bored?
I know. Sort of.
My next programme Tempus Fugit is on BBC Radio 4, on Tuesday 1 December, at 11am. After that, it’ll be on BBC iPlayer and available as a podcast.
Eavesdrop on an experimental dinner party (just who is that loud cat in the background???) Meet a professor who throws people off buildings. Listen to me getting almost hypnotised. Go on a long car journey with my small friends Natty and Misha. And meet my friend Henrietta and her horse Ding … disappearing into a time warp.
As Groucho Marx said –
Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like a banana.


As you may know, when I train people who have to appear as guests on TV, I always tell them to be assertive and make sure they’re feeling comfortable.

From now on, I’ll be calling this the Mariah Technique, after Mariah Carey’s recent appearance on GMTV.

Apparently she insisted on two men lowering her onto the studio sofa, in case her outfit got crumpled. She also had minders placed behind each camera to make sure she was filmed from the right angle.

And one of her entourage had to walk in front of her, backwards, in case she fell over. Love it.

Meanwhile, her X-Factor dressing room allegedly had to be specially painted white, with specific types of flower. She insisted on a bespoke tunnel to the set, in case her hair got wet during the ten foot walk.

For her book-signing at Selfridges, she demanded a £1000 throne and £5000 table (direct from Greenwich Village in New York) and special Fiji water from the rainforests to sip on.

And, when she switched on the Westfields Christmas lights, she requested a Rolls Royce to drive her along the pink carpet to the pink podium, where she illuminated the shopping centre with a wand. The model of car reportedly had to be changed six times before she was happy.

She also insisted on 20 white kittens and 100 white doves, but this didn’t happen ‘for health and safety reasons.’

But my favourite Mariah story is that her pet Jack Russell dog (aka Jack, or Jackson P Mutley) used to have his own first class seat on flights. He’s now too big though, so he travels in his own private jet.

What’s wrong with that? It all seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Twins Piqued

Boll and I were relieved to see Jedward evicted from the X-Factor, and we enjoyed Susan Boyle’s performance.
We’re still rooting for Joe or Stacey to win.
Here are some exclusive pics from Saturday’s show.



Susan Boyle


Joe McElderry


Stacey Solomon

Hertford North Flood

North Road turned into a river the other day during heavy rainfall. Here it is, outside Hertford North station. I had to wade through water to get in.


I was walking through town yesterday and thought about one of my friends.
I could see his face and recall his first name. But I’d completely forgotten his surname – even though I absolutely knew I knew it.
In the end, it drove me so mad I had to go home to look it up.
Apparently, on average, we have a tip-of-the-tongue moment at least once a week. And forgetting names of close friends isn’t all that unusual.
According to Dr Daniel Schachter (a memory scientist at Harvard) it’s because, when you recall someone, the memory isn’t filed away in a single location. Different aspects of the memory are scattered all around the brain.
My memory of my friend’s name was separated from my visual memory of his face. I was just having trouble connecting the two.
‘When we remember something,’ explains Schachter, ‘that memory feels unified. But the reality is that you assemble each memory out of lots of different pieces. A tip-of-the-tongue state occurs when one of the pieces gets lost.’
So I hadn’t forgotten his surname. It was in my brain. I just couldn’t access it.

Dark and Stormy Peacock

As you can see, the Hertfordshire Mercury kindly covered my forthcoming programme It was a Dark and Stormy Night (BBC Radio 4, Thursday 26 November, 1130 am).
I’m slightly regretting my attempt to look spooky and Gothic in the photo, but the piece was very good.
They even included some of my more controversial comments. Notably –
‘Edward Bulwer-Lytton and his wife Rosina were a Victorian version of Peter Andre and Katie Price – only a bit more highbrow.’

Nightmare Before Christmas

I find many things irritating.
But, pretty near the top of the list are –
Vibrato whistling and
When a child is born by Johnny Mathis
So I wasn’t best pleased to be trapped on a bus in Newcastle last weekend, next to an old man who was vibrato whistling that very tune, in a loop, for half an hour.
Anyway – I got back down south and forgot about it. It was all a dream, an illusion now…
Until Friday morning. 8.07 am. Oxford Circus tube station. At first, it was echoey and indistinct. But then it got louder and unmistakable.
An old man (a different one) was vibrato whistling. And the tune was……..
When a child is born
At first, I thought it was in my head. But, no, it really was happening.
It’s like a Dr Who plotline. Johnny Mathis turns out to be a space alien and possesses old men. Throughout the globe, dentures rattle to the sound of his ghastly Christmas hit from hell, as the rest of us die from aesthetic poisoning.
I guess it could be worse. Cliff Richard’s Mistletoe and Wine or whatever. But if I encounter another Vibrato Mathis in the near future, I’m calling the police.

Another Elderly Person Conversation

Madonna’s former husband
Ian: Have you been to Dorset?
EP: Yes. And we went to the pub where Madonna and Lionel Richie used to go to.