It began as an everyday journey from work after another blisteringly good edition of “Eddie Mair’s PM With Me Eddie Mair”. As usual, before I left the office I had high-fived the production team (this gets round the problem of me not knowing their names) and they had responded with what they tell me is a traditional Maori greeting involving not five fingers but one.
As usual I waited 20 minutes for a lift to take me down to reception, and then tried to push my way through the usual barrage of Securicor staff, tasked with dropping off more massive piles of pay-off cash for failed executives.
Thirty-five minutes later I was on the plaza outside New Broadcasting House, which has been named “Vox-Pop Avenue” by wary locals. Actually, there is a neat thing you’ll discover if you’re ever lucky enough to stand outside NBH and marvel at where one thousand million pounds went. Tiny speakers built into the pavement relay the sound of various BBC radio stations. You can catch wafts of Radio 3 or hear the World Service whistle down the wind.
On your left, as you stand with BH in front of you, you’ll observe one slightly damaged pavement-speaker. This, I’m ashamed to say, was my fault. I was passing by it one evening after PM, and caught the Radio 4 Six O’Clock News. Something in me snapped. I could not bear to hear Vaughan Savidge’s voice for another single second and pounded the blameless speaker with my feet until the sound stopped and I had ruptured my fibula.
On the night in question, I was heading for the number 94 bus, aiming for west London and a dinner engagement. I’m inserting this bus detail to try to endear myself to you as an everyday sort of person who is as at-home on public transport as he is dining with the crowned head’s of Europe.
Truth be told, I spent the first five minutes of the bus journey demanding of the driver “But where IS the first class compartment?” and the only time I dined with the crowned heads of Europe was so disastrous, I had to be cropped out of all the Hello! photographs for legal reasons. Who knew Queen Beatrix could bleed so profusely?
I found my way upstairs on the bus. None of my fellow passengers could enlighten me as to when the buffet trolley would appear, so I settled in to a seat near the back, and pressed my face against the window in the hope that people on Oxford Street might recognise me.
At this point I spotted that the woman in front of me on the bus was reading Radio Times. It was a Friday night and she was carefully perusing the TV listings, ticking off with a pen programmes she wanted to watch. Moments later, as I tired of not being spotted by tourists outside, I returned my gaze to the wise Radio Times reader and noticed that she was reading Radio Head!
I could not have been more proud. Proof, at last, that besides you, someone else reads this rubbish. She read the whole thing! What a discerning lady! Exclamation marks! Can you guess what happened next? Was it:
1. I modestly sat quietly and revelled in the private pleasure of recognition
2. I introduced myself and she told me she adored me
3. I introduced myself and she pounded my head with her rolled-up RT until I looked worse than a certain Dutch ex-Queen who doesn’t know what “duck!” means.
4. None of the above