Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Londoner's Diary; Griff Rhys Jones on Challenging Alan Sugar, Admiring Mo Mowlam and Being One of Three Berks in a Punt

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Londoner's Diary; Griff Rhys Jones on Challenging Alan Sugar, Admiring Mo Mowlam and Being One of Three Berks in a Punt

Article excerpt

Byline: GRIFF RHYS JONES

ondon? What's that? I have a house in London, but I haven't been there much in the past few weeks. Like every other denizen of 'the big pie' or whatever London is, I get off out of it in the summer.

I go to Suffolk. Is it becoming too much like the Hamptons? How should I know? I have never been to the Hamptons. But beautifully honed Walberswick is a media mini-break essential now. The annual fete looks like a preview of the Edinburgh Television Festival.

I used to go on holiday in Suffolk when it was considered dull. I liked it dull. I still like my bit of South Suffolk, near Ipswich, because Ipswich is considered much too dull by those on their way to exciting Aldeburghian Suffolk. I don't think the people who go to these groovy nodes ever leave for the actual countryside in case they miss some treasure hunt or barbecue, but I silently grind my teeth when newly promoted executive producers tell me that they're going to 'somewhere called Orford' for the summer. Hah! You should have been there when Orford was so dull you had to get on the bus to go to Ipswich for fun.

But, dear me, the East must be the place to do business in the sultry months. I am organising a grand Charity Challenge for the Hackney Empire in the autumn. Alan Sugar will set 15 separate teams a task and then reconvene at the end of 30 days to award prizes and make acerbic assessments. It's good for teams and companies and raises money for a worthy cause. But we had to postpone it because nobody can find anybody to make any bloody decisions in bloody August.

They're all crabbing in Walberswick.

I was at the Empire for Eddie Izzard's triumphant show in July for Mo Mowlam's charity. She came on stage and was so ill she stumbled and fell, but still funny, practical and strong. How quickly people go.

Because everybody takes August off, I can feel lighthearted about doing f*** all myself. I interrupt Suffolk to go to Copenhagen to sail a boat. In a few hours I am sailing in the Oresund. I predict that Venn, a placid island where Tycho Brahe revolutionised astronomy, will soon become like Walberswick.

There are huge winds, though. Bits pop off the boat and it has to go back to the menders.

However, I do feel oddly guilty about leaving London, because I want to demonstrate that I can take it. I live very centrally. The 7/7 bombs went off two blocks away.

The first I knew about it was when my son George rang to find out if we were all right. I thought he was ringing about my operation. One of the second, fake ones went off at our nearest Tube. This time I was away, so I missed being strong and determined and gutsy, as all Londoners were supposed to be. I felt especially guilty that I hadn't gone to gawp at the sardine-tin bus in Russell Square. …

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