Eddie Mair on secret salaries, poached eggs and medium wave radio

“I would have stayed at BBC Breakfast but what they were offering was antelope oxters"

I caught up with an old friend at the weekend. Hadn’t expect to, and I was startled to encounter him, but in the end it was a delightful nostaglia-fest.


Having arrived at Edinburgh airport on my way to see family and friends, I was tootling in my hire care, doing all the things I forget to do before I drive off (check mirrors, work out how to reverse, close the boot).

I turned on the radio and guess what I found? MEDIUM WAVE! Yes, we may spend our lives listening to FM, DAB, online downloads and super-convenient podcasts, but the previous driver was tuned to MEDIUM WAVE!

Not for me those digital stations that automatically tell me the track, and which pants the singer was wearing. This was MEDIUM WAVE. Just four numbers for the frequency and that’s your lot. Want to know what you’re listening to? Stay tuned… if indeed the signal holds out.

My ears feasted (can ears do that?) on the squashed and brilliant sound that took me back to the 70s and 80s. I half expected to hear Tony Blackburn; actually, if I had been in the right part of the country, I could have. Fifty years in the biz and about to receive a SECOND lifetime achievement award from the Radio Academy. He deserves it.

I spent so long riding up and down the unidentified frequencies, the most commonly heard track was by “Eddie Mair and the Rumblestrips”. Do yourself a favour in the comfort of your home. If you still have medium wave, turn on, tune in, drop off.

The perfect poached egg

Breakfasting at a friend’s in the country on Sunday, I marvelled at the perfect poached eggs. Great shape. Perfect consistency. Delicious.

I’ve bought every poached egg-making contraption under the sun. I’ve followed every foolproof guide from our finest TV chefs, yet still when I lift the completed effort from the bubbling water it resembles only a distant, third cousin, inbred version of a poached egg. I try to convince myself that it’s not the appearance that matters, it all goes down the same way etc, but it’s like eating a lubed-up sweaty oyster.

The eggs tasted great too. They came from the hens of a local woman apparently, though my friend said the woman was getting out of the eggs business. Why? Apparently the cost of chicken feed is now prohibitive.

For anyone who feeds chickens, this is a real problem, I imagine. For the rest of us who use the expression “chicken feed” to describe something that’s virtually worthless, what are we supposed to do?

“Compared to Andrew Mitchell’s legal fees, my parking fine is tepid tap water.”

“I would have stayed at BBC Breakfast but what they were offering was antelope oxters.”

“If anything is more worthless than chicken feed used to be, it’s Eddie Mair’s poached eggs.”

My salary secret

I have no idea how much Susanna Reid is paid. £1 million, as first reported? £400,000, after Nick Owen intervened? Who knows, or cares?

I can tell you that I was once offered a job by a radio station, and, having agreed terms, my would-be boss told me: “We’ll tell the press your salary is double what it is.” I suggested we double my salary and tell the press it was half what it was. He didn’t laugh. I didn’t take the job.