Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Jeremy Vine

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary: Jeremy Vine

Article excerpt

Last Tuesday I tried to sign up to a new life. My wife and I argued, slightly. 'I don't think this will work!' she laughs, and I reply feebly: 'But babe, it's the future.' (My use of the word 'babe' is like a label on the conversation -- WARNING: HAVING ARGUMENT WHICH I AM ABOUT TO LOSE). She protests that she needs a car for ferrying kids and clearing the allotment and occasional 5.30 a.m. starts at work, and I produce a small piece of plastic and wave it, like Neville Chamberlain. This is my trump card. I have signed up to Zipcar. With this rectangle I can unlock a hire car from a nearby street and just drive. 'It will be the end of petrol, insurance, repairs, mud and road tax!' I say. Our own car has been embarrassing us since monkeys at Longleat tore off the rear screenwash nozzle; pushing the button now drenches passers-by. Besides, in London there is public transport for most journeys: 80 buses an hour go down the main road at the end of our street -- 40 in each direction, meaning the adage 'You wait an hour for a bus, then three arrive at once' has no meaning to my kids, because three are always arriving. Anyway, I lost the argument. Sorry, Zipcar. The new life will have to wait.

Age 49, I often despair at how rarely I make new friends. Then, through an old one, I met Andrew. A tiny bit older than me, and much the wiser -- he quotes Jonathan Swift, I respond with Taylor. We go to movies together and discuss our lives and what brought us to where we are (this sometimes upsets other people watching the film). 'Think about old friends the most,' wrote Yeats, but a new one makes you consider life differently. It feels wrong to add this part, but I will: diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, Andrew must contemplate his own death. So his spare minutes are far more valuable than mine, and this friendship more precious than most.

To the Appledore Book Festival: my favourite of them all. Someone told me the UK now has 435 book festivals, and the grandest are industrial in scale. Appledore is not like that. When authors arrive they get a hug from Brenda and tea in the yurt. Lyn interviews them. Sarah takes their photo. Brenda's rugby-mad son Matthew, a teenager who has recently discovered ELO, is on hand for any extra requests. …

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