It is so hot. Why am I wearing a black suit? Stupid. Spend most of the day trying to argue that Arnold Schwarzenegger running for Governor of California is still the most exciting news of the day, even though it broke last night. But am in the minority. I have pangs for being a US correspondent and want to spend the next three months following this story – it will be hysterical. We end up leading on the measles epidemic warning because of all the scares about MMR vaccine. Wonder what I would do if I had kids. Fortunately I don’t – yet.
We have the superb Christopher Hitchens on the programme from Los Angeles talking about Arnie – he’s always fascinating but why does he sound like he’s been smoking a joint? Or is that me?
In at 9.30am with two programmes to do today. Julie, one of my programme editors on Channel 4 News at Noon, looks slightly disapproving as I walk in later than I should, but she always treats me like a naughty child anyway, so not too worried.
First stop: the news meeting for tonight’s programme. Make feeble attempts at humour about women going through the menopause because of the story that Hormone Replacement Therapy may be0dangerous but none of the women are amused and the men stare at their shoes. One or two come up furtively afterwards to apologise for not joining in/reprimand me for insensitivity.
Back to the Channel 4 News at Noon desk and, fortunately, the five Brits accused of bombings are released from Saudi Arabia in time for Channel 4 News at Noon to lead on it.
Come off air at 12.30 and have 30 minutes to write my “Behind the Headlines” column for the London Metro newspaper. It’s mostly newsroom gossip. When I started doing it I thought nobody would notice, but its amazing how many people read it on the Tube every morning.
By the 2.15pm Channel 4 News meeting we are without question going to lead on the Saudi story. Except that then the Government announces it’s going to fund the civil action by relatives of the Omagh bomb victims, so we switch to that. Huge relief and a little smugness during the programme that the expert on HRT – a woman – agrees with the points I was making in the morning meeting.
Day off and its 37 degrees in London. Escape to Whitstable for the day to find out why everybody seems to be raving about this little seaside town. Good oysters, but the beach is frankly a bit disappointing and the sea seems miles away. I laugh at the white people who seem to have turned bright red in the sun. Attempt to paddle in the sea but as I get more and more stuck in the mud I remember stories about people who’ve drowned when the tide came back in so give up and return to the ice cream van.
Up early and in the office at eight for my radio show on LBC 97.3FM at 10 o’clock. There’s only one thing to talk about today: the weather. So we do, for an hour. The show now takes calls and more listeners are ringing up to chip in with their views. I’m starting to really enjoy talk radio and I think it may be rubbing off a bit on my TV presenting.
Day one of the Hutton Inquiry starts slowly in the morning but is nonetheless fascinating. This is going to be a huge story so we opened the Noon programme by setting out the scene. By the afternoon, however, we’ve had some pretty stunning revelations about the splits in British Intelligence about the 45-minute claim in the September dossier. Trying to work out what the difference is between MI6 and the DIS (Defence Intelligence Staff). The Tories send Tim Collins to come on and slag off the Government, except he gets confused on air and thinks Alastair Campbell chaired a meeting of the Joint Intelligence Committee rather than the Iraq Communications Group. Good job I have a memory for detail so correct him (and it helps that Jim, my boss, has a laptop at home from which he can send me helpful computer messages). Run off after the programme to my brother-in-law’s book launch. He’s called Phil Collins.
Not THE Phil Collins, obviously. I buy four copies of his novel, Bobby Dazzler, then get annoyed – isn’t the point of being related to the author that you don’t have to pay?
Day off and my friend has invited me to Brighton races. It’s hot, but nicer in Brighton with a sea breeze. Have to break off mid-races to write my column for Eastern Eye (a weekly newspaper aimed at British Asians) and file from my laptop and mobile phone. I love technology.
Another two-programme day.
Channel 4 News at Noon leads on the British Asian who’s been arrested after being set up by American and Russian agents allegedly trying to sell a missile to terrorists. He sounds a bit “Del Boy” to me but its a great tale.
The Hutton Inquiry is getting very interesting but really hard to convey clearly. One minute it is the Ministry of Defence and Downing Street under fire. The next minute it is the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan. Then his boss Richard Sambrook. And then they all turn on Dr David Kelly himself, the one who cannot defend himself. And all the time we are trying to keep in mind the fact that behind all this remains the fundamental questions: were the Government’s dossiers accurate? Did they exaggerate the threat? And where are those weapons anyway? I don’t think many of those involved are coming out of this very well. I just hope the viewers are as gripped as we are.
By seven o’clock we lead on something completely different. British Airways suspends its flights to Saudi after a terror threat.
And I display an embarrasingly detailed knowledge of the Atkins Diet in a discussion at the end of the programme.
I’ve never done it but I probably should. If only it didn’t make you smell. sevendays