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