I’m trying desperately to remember the last book that had me laughing out loud to such a degree and I came to the conclusion that it was probably Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling, and that was back in… well, it was when I still had hair.
As others have pointed out, if you’re a subscriber to or you're prone to nicking other people’s copies of the Radio Times and you’re an Eddie Mair fan, it’s more than likely you’ll be familiar with this compilation of his life reflections that appeared in the magazine between 2010 and 2016 (the book was first published in 2017, when it was reasonably up-to-date). Not being a purchaser – not even of the RT Christmas editions - all this was new to me.
I am an admirer, though, of the man in question. As a presenter of Radio 4’s flagship late-afternoon show, PM, as well as performing stand-in duty on such diverse shows as Newsnight, The One Show and Any Questions, (on no account mention The News Quiz ), Mair has been at the forefront of the BBC’s legendary current affairs output for over 30 years. All accompanied, it has to be said, with asides – not all of them quiet – which, while they might have had the corporation’s executives (and lawyers) reaching for their red pens, had the rest of us in stitches.
Reading this, while trying, unsuccessfully, to stifle guffaws in the quiet carriage, I began to get flash-backs to that other wonderful radio presenter, the late, great Ray Moore, whose imagination, sense of humour and ability to go off on surreal and very funny riffs while on air had me wheezing into my cornflakes, as tears of laughter ran down my cheeks.
Moore’s end-of-show banter with Terry Wogan, whose morning programme followed immediately after, became the stuff of legend. Mair is of a similar ilk.
He will also be equally missed. Not that he’s passed over to the great network in the sky, I hasten to add; it was just that after three decades at Broadcasting House, he decided he’d had enough and, without more ado, upped and left Auntie to join the ranks of LBC.
He’s been quoted as saying: ‘There’s no point to a job where I don’t have fun every day’.
And by all accounts, at least from this collection of anecdotes involving his interviews with the great, the good, and the downright ghastly and the relationships he’s had with his long-suffering colleagues – often the subject in the biggest laughter-inducing passages in the book, those years were brilliant fun.
I haven’t listened to LBC for quite a while, but I can tell you that even as I write this I am re-tuning my radio dial like man possessed.
Verdict, then; these ‘Confessions' are the perfect antidote to a wet weekend. Well, apart from two weeks in the Maldives.
Read and enjoy.