Rarely lost for words
THIS column has clocked up around 120,000 words since the first one on May 21 2008, but Mr F reckons I use that many words on a daily basis anyway, never mind spreading them over seven years in Bm@il.
He therefore can’t imagine how I came to be (almost) dumbstruck while shaking hands with Nelson Mandela, the subject of my very first column.
I wrote then about how we can make idiots of ourselves when meeting our heroes, following a confession by Max Hastings on his blundering meeting with Princess Diana.
A new study had been published in scientific journal Neuron which revealed that when we meet anyone we rate higher than us, an area of our brain lights up to awake a sense of deference which can cause us to act oddly.
Bm@il hitting the streets may not have been a giant step for mankind but the reason it is still going strong is because many readers – you – have actually read the columns. So many heartfelt thanks.
Looking back, it is funny to see how topical some of the columns still are. Five years ago (21.7.10) I wrote a piece headed Stop Bashing Charles in which I asked what the heir to the throne had done that was so terrible?
This had nothing to do with being a royalist or a republican. I was just cross that, with his love of the environment, buildings, architecture and everything organic, he wasn’t allowed to express his concerns without being accused of interfering.
Now his letters to the Government have been made public, it seems he genuinely did have others at heart, particularly when sticking up for the forces in Iraq, whom he feared were not properly equipped.
Being safe reminded me of when I was a reporter and a call came into the newsroom about a hostage situation.
A (possibly) armed man had barricaded himself into his house and may have had a child with him.
Arriving at the scene, I was shunting my car through the crowds when a hot geyser erupted from under the bonnet. I rang Britannia Rescue.
A concerned operator asked the routine question, ‘Was I a woman alone?’ I tried not to laugh as I looked at the rows of police in riot gear – helmets, shields, batons – that now surrounded me, particularly when he added, “Do you feel safe?”