Regular readers will need no introduction to this column, which they know as “the page you have to flick past to get to the letters”. So I want to address these festive words to those of you who cast merely an annual glance at this stout organ.
For you, the Christmas and New Year double issue is as much a part of the holiday season as those disappointing luxury mince pies that promise so much in their illustration on the box, and the Christmas cards you dutifully send to your elderly relatives in the distant hope that they will remember you in their wills.
Traditionally, I take the opportunity of this reflective time of year to delve into my own archive (do not attempt this at home) so that new readers can read for the first time the words of wisdom that have pebble-dashed these pages since the last time they were generous enough to fork out for their once-a-year purchase of the finest magazine in the English language.
And so, cheap reader, let’s walk hand in hand down memory lane to reveal the insights from 2012 that have helped make me Britain’s Most Beloved Broadcaster Not Currently Under Arrest.
“Fred Goodwin, formerly of the Royal Bank of Scotland, is no longer Sir Fred. I’m confident this is the last time we’ll see a previously adored public figure lose his knighthood.”
“Leap Day 2012 and I am forced to co-present PM with Robert Peston. I cannot bear having to pretend on air that we’re pretending that the pretence ending of our pretend feud is all a pretence.”
“Lovely dinner with Alan Carr as he announces he’s leaving Radio 2. Evening marred only by disquiet around the restaurant about the people at the next table. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Bashar al-Assad, former Liberian president Charles Taylor and Piers Morgan are in full flow about their current travails. Eventually, Piers is asked to leave.”
“On Radio 4’s Today, James Naughtie interviews someone with Tourette’s.”
“Radio 4 announces that Saturday Live will stretch from 60 minutes to 90 – the latest programme on the station to be rewarded with an airtime extension. Network bosses ring PM to ask if we couldn’t take our 60 minutes of news and current affairs and ‘squeeze it into 15?’ ”
“Sad to see Chris Moyles announce he’s leaving The Radio 1 Breakfast Show, since it means I am now the BBC’s most reviled, slovenly, unkempt broadcaster.”
“Andy Murray fails to win Wimbledon, again. This man will never win a Grand Slam singles title.”
“Curiosity lands on Mars and Mark Thompson announces he’s off to The New York Times. Astonishing that a robot could survive and function after travelling that kind of distance.”
“George Entwistle’s first day as director-general. I offer to buy him dinner to celebrate but he says he has no dates free for almost two months.”
“Amazing moment in history as Felix Baumgartner becomes the first person to break the sound barrier without any mechanical assistance, skydiving from 24 miles up. I don’t think we’ll see anyone falling further, faster in my lifetime.”
“George Entwistle leaves the BBC. Console myself by pranking Phillip Schofield into trusting a list of names I just emailed him.”
“Very excited. Getting strong hints that the editor of Radio Times has agreed at last to put me on the cover of the Christmas and New Year double issue.”
Eddie Goes Country is repeated on Christmas Day at 5.10pm on Radio 4