I was thinking the other day how nice you sounded on Desert Island Discs when someone from the Oldie rang up and said it was time for my article so I thought it would be a shame to waste a passing thought and decided to write about how nice you sounded on Desert Island Discs, and then I thought, Well, you can't be nice about someone behind their back so I am sending you a copy in a vain attempt to embarrass you. It won't embarrass you much because not that much of it is directly about you but it did give me a chance to say how much I had always liked you, which means that next time we meet I shall be the embarrassed one.
I am also envious of you going on Desert Island Discs. I have parodied Sue Lawley cruelly over the years, and thus abdicated my chances of going on, but I do have one strange distinction. Because Alan Coren chose (why?) a song by Instant Sunshine as one of his eight records, I have been heard (distantly) on a record on Desert Island Discs. Not many journalists can say that.
Everyone says how good Saga Mag is and now that I know you are in it, I must get it. I got briefly involved last year when I was one of the judges for the Saga Best Funny Book By An Oldie Award, which was fun. I have written a book coming out in October, which I hoped might be eligible for this year, but I have just been asked to be a judge again in September, so it'll have to wait to fail. (It's a fictional autobiography called "Someone Like Me".)
Anyway, I live in the country and live a country life - I think I was the only person in the pub last night who hadn't gone to Badminton yesterday, God help us - and love it, even if it means not networking in London. Mark you, when I did live in London, we never called it networking. We called it bumping into Katharine Whitehorn et al. I still do the daily bit for the Indy and seem to have done a lot of radio this year, so I am not forgotten.
If I had the energy I would dig out a couple of columns for you that I did last year about agony aunts. I stumbled on the private problem that agony aunts must have i.e. not knowing who to turn to when they have problems, and I invented an Agony Aunt who only dealt with agony aunts' personal problems. I seem to remember that I invented one agony aunt who was really a man writing as a woman, and his problem was that he had fallen in love with his alter ego . . .
But life is quite inventive too, because in Spain recently I met a journalist who works for the English weekly Costa Blanca News, and he once as a joke wrote a column under the by-line of Pam Armstrong or something similar, and vented some strong feminine opinions, and the editor liked it, and it has now become a regular feature and won a big fan club. He, as a "woman", has received several offers of marriage from elderly men and some rather more physical offers from younger men, and scratches his head over human nature.
My wife says I natter too much. I think she's right. But I have enjoyed writing to you, even if it's not as nice as seeing you again.
PS A book of facts was a brilliant choice.
PPS I wish I had known Gavin was mad about jazz. We could have bored each other silly. In the words of Al Murray, the Pub Landlord: "Nobody likes jazz. Not even the people who like it really like it. And they tell me that they make it up as they go along. Where's the skill in that ?"