Life and times

Jeremy Vine on what’s in a name – and a hair­cut

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - CONTENTS - Jeremy Vine

ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS has the same name as me. It’s not a co­in­ci­dence – I saw the by­line ‘Jeremy Vine’ in a newspaper 15 years ago and thought I’d make con­tact. ‘JV1’, as I call him, is a lovely fel­low and we get on well. Turns out we’re both Chelsea fans and oc­ca­sion­ally we go to foot­ball matches to­gether.

The most re­cent was at Wem­b­ley. He was head­ing there with a group of friends and we ar­ranged to meet at a pub be­fore the game. When I ar­rived I looked for him. The ta­bles were in pri­vate booths and when I saw a group of strangers in one, I thought this must be it. Pok­ing my head into the booth, I said, ‘Ex­cuse me, have you seen Jeremy Vine?’

‘If you need to ask that you’re in all kinds of trou­ble,’ replied one of the lunch party. Turns out it was the wrong ta­ble… A HANDY­MAN CAME TO MY HOME to fix the bath­room sink. He was old­school. He had worked in the Navy, ‘where you just spray the sealant in the crack in a sec­ond’, he told me as he ap­plied a squirt of sil­i­cone to the basin.

I told him I wanted ad­vice. As a fa­ther and grand­fa­ther, with knowl­edge of the world, could he tell me how he ra­tioned the screen time of the younger mem­bers of his fam­ily? I think he was ex­pect­ing a ques­tion about sil­i­cone sealant, but he didn’t hes­i­tate. ‘ They were on de­vices the whole time, so even­tu­ally I pulled out the ca­bles and smashed them with a ham­mer.’

Par­ents of­ten ex­change tips on how to con­trol time spent on smart­phones, lap­tops, tablets, but no one else has yet sug­gested us­ing a ham­mer. MY WIFE RACHEL and I went on hol­i­day to Scot­land, and had a beau­ti­ful mo­ment when we parked our bi­cy­cles out­side a café on a re­mote west­erly is­land. Sec­onds later, it started rain­ing heav­ily and the place was over­run with tourists seek­ing shel­ter and lunch.

One group of Ger­man tourists was on a strict timetable. They or­dered their meals, paid and waited. But the staff couldn’t work fast enough to meet their sched­ule and, af­ter wait­ing for 40 min­utes, they ran out of time and very po­litely lined up again at the till and asked for a re­fund. With­out a mur­mur of ex­cuse or com­plaint, the young man at the till re­funded ev­ery­one, while Rachel and I sat and watched, re­lieved that we weren’t on such a tight pro­gramme. WITH DON­ALD TRUMP threat­en­ing North Korea (or maybe it was Kim Jongun who started it), and the ten­sion be­tween the coun­tries es­ca­lat­ing, I am re­minded of one of my more bizarre in­ter­views on Ra­dio 2.

A hair­dresser in west Lon­don pre­sum­ably thought it would be funny to print a large poster of the North Korean pres­i­dent with the words ‘ Bad hair day?’ on it, re­fer­ring to Pres­i­dent Kim’s strange re­verse mul­let. The sa­lon own­ers of­fered a 15 per cent dis­count for any­one who felt sim­i­larly af­flicted… un­aware that the North Korean em­bassy was just a few yards away.

The hair­dresser came to Ra­dio 2 and told me what had hap­pened: two men from the em­bassy had marched into the sa­lon and de­manded the im­age be taken down be­cause it was dis­re­spect­ful. They were po­litely told ‘this is Eng­land’ and in­formed that a pre­vi­ous poster had been of Victoria Beck­ham, who had not com­plained. At the time, it was one of the cra­zi­est sto­ries I had ever done. But to­day, no one would be sur­prised if North Korea went to war over a hair­cut. What I Learnt: What My Lis­ten­ers Say – and Why We Should Take No­tice, by Jeremy Vine, is out now (W&N, £18.99)

‘My fam­ily were on de­vices the whole time,’ he told me, ‘so I smashed them with a ham­mer’

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