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November 23, 1998

Dear Germaine,

I have been trying to get in touch with you for a few days, but all the contacts I had for you – Guardian, Oldie – said, as they suggested numbers, “These look rather old to me… “ So eventually I followed Private Eye’s advice and tried faxing you via your agent…

For a year or two now I have been involved in co-presenting a Radio 4 programme called “Double Vision” with Edward Enfield (father of Harry, but a person in his own right). It came into being when they wanted a holiday replacement for Loose Ends, and we have now done three or more series. The format is simplicity itself. Edward presents himself as a crusty old fogey and disagrees with everything I say under the illusion that I am a thrusting liberal, unaware that I am the last of the young fogeys, and I indulge him in the pleasure of disagreeing with him. We enlist our guests’ support in whatever matter we are discussing and they either take sides or go off at a tangent, or publicise a book they have just written, or, failing that, publicise a book written by someone completely different. At various times in the programme we work in some archive material or even a song or two…

(The programme had a curious genesis. Richard Ingrams was meant to be presenting an afternoon of Oldie material at the Salisbury Arts Festival and had enlisted me and Enfield to do some of the reading. At the last moment, he backed out and left me and Enfield to do the whole ninety minutes, even though we had never met before and didn’t know what we were meant to do. So we busked it, interviewing each other, telling anecdotes, plunging into nostalgia, exchanging prejudices and so on. Quite by chance the afternoon was recorded by Tony Staveacre for a Radio 2 Arts programme, and later, when he was asked by Radio 4 if he had any ideas for a Loose Ends replacement, he played them this tape and they fell for our partnership. Oddly enough, we had gone on to do it at other festivals, always without Richard Ingrams…)

Enough. Would you like to be a guest on the programme? We are thinking specifically of Dec 18th, which is a Friday. We record in Bristol which is 90 minutes from London by train and we would be through by 4pm, having met for lunch at 1.30. On that day we hope to tackle lots of topics beginning with h - such as history, heritage, heirlooms, hotels and hunting.

Let me know if you are quite interested, or alternatively if you think the idea is hateful, horrible, heinous, half-baked, etc.    ?

Even if you can’t do it, why not let me have a contact number so that I can annoy you again?




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