How can a whole year have flown by since the 2011 Henley Literary Festival? And how can this year's autumn weather be so different ? Twelve months ago I listened to Bella Pollen and Kay Burley talk about their books in sweltering sunshine. This year the audience at Jeremy Vine’s event were all in winter coats, scarves and (in my case) fingerless gloves.
But who cared about the chilly temperature when Vine was there to treat us to a hilarious hour of anecdotes about his journalistic career – from his cub reporter days on the Coventry Evening Telegraph to his 25 years at the BBC.
Interviewed by the Daily Mail’s Sandra Parsons, Vine received a rapturous reception at Henley’s packed Kenton Theatre. A tall rangy figure clad in jeans, dark jacket and bright turquoise socks, he talked at top speed for 60 minutes, barely pausing for breath. Along the way he listed his top five DJs – Kenny Everett, John Peel, Terry Wogan, Chris Evans and Steve Wright – and his top four TV interviewers – Richard Dimbleby, David Dimbleby, Robin Day and Jeremy Paxman (or Paxo as he called him).
Even though I often listen to Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime show on Radio 2, I’d never realised what a brilliant mimic he is. Talking about his days as a political reporter at Westminster (and his trip round the UK in an ancient VW camper van during the 2001 general election) he got Peter Mandelson down to a tee. His Terry Wogan impersonation wasn’t half bad either.
I loved Vine’s recollections of working as a reporter on the Today programme. Those were the days when the late, great Brian Redhead was at the helm and Vine recalled Redhead’s habit of smiling when he turned his microphone on. “And when he spoke you could hear the smile in his voice,” said Vine in awe.
It’s All News to Me by Jeremy Vine (Simon & Schuster, £18.99)