Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

If you haven't scuffled you haven't lived, and our local scuffle is the best of the best. A scuffle is a sort of off-road bumper cars in 4x4s, and it's one of the highlights of the summer. Our car, The Scuffle Pig, was on her third outing this year. We thought she'd been dealt a fatal blow in 2011, when a foolish friend encouraged a fellow scuffler to get her out of a dip by ramming her. The back windscreen was smashed, and I had to leap out and strip my then 12-year-old stepson down to his underpants in front of numerous spectators in order to get rid of the glass.

He was remarkably good about it, though.

Happily the Pig rode again, sporting four new off-road tyres which cost more than she did. The boys were concerned that the heatwave might have resulted in a dry scuffle - any good scuffle needs mud - but there was no need to worry. It never really stops raining on Exmoor.

Less than a week to go until my stint presenting Radio 4's Woman's Hour, and I am terrified. This gig is a big deal.

If you're a devotee of the station you can tell what time of day it is from the voice you hear when you turn on the radio.

Your body clock is set to the ebb and flow of the different shows (when my eldest was tiny he could always be calmed by the Archers theme tune). We have one Radio 4 addict friend who has a house in the Caribbean, and listens to it there via the internet. Once the jetlag has worn off you find yourself eating breakfast while listening to Martha Kearney on The World at One, which never feels quite right.

The Channel 4 press office have been in touch with my agent; the Sun are doing a piece on celebs getting freebies and money by tweeting about products, and my name has come up. I ring the press office and ask for the journalist's number.

I don't want anyone handling this for me;

if you have nothing to hide, you don't need a spokesperson. The Sun journo's number is not immediately forthcoming, so I tap out a few heated tweets reflecting how I feel about being suspected of being 'on the Twake'. I also ask anyone whose business I have promoted without wanting anything in return to contact the Sun. Eventually I speak to the journalist and he says that the powers that be are not happy about my tweets - a few people took the opportunity to tell the Sun where to get off. 'You called me a tosser, ' he says in an injured tone. I apologise, but given that he'd sent reams of my tweets to my employer, suggesting that I'd composed them for personal gain, I think he got off lightly. …

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