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Diary: Eamonn Holmes

Colonel Gaddafi – hmm, or was that Mickey Rourke?

If I had a pound for every time someone asked me what time I get up in the morning, I'd be a very rich man indeed. On the off-chance that my bosses at Sky News are reading this, the answer is 3am. OK, sometimes that may slip a bit. Whether it's 3am or 4.30am, it's still unnatural. But I am a very lucky man: I do a job that puts a spring in my step.

Having lived through and reported on the troubles in Northern Ireland, I never assume too much knowledge or interest on behalf of folk who have tuned in to the programmes we make. It's like saying that you should know more than your motor mechanic when you leave your car in for a service, or you have a responsibility to know the particular recipe a chef has put together for your restaurant meal. I know from experience the vast majority of folk in Britain didn't understand the Northern Irish conflict.

People like me are news junkies. It's our job to serve up what's happening in the world - to get the story across. People understand soldiers' coffins coming home to Wootton Bassett. Our job is to make sure they understand why those troops are dying. They've got to decide if it's worth it. How could I not want to get out of bed to do a job like that?

On Friday morning I make my way to see an old mate, Kevin, in Birmingham. He's from Belfast, but Birmingham is the world centre of expertise for hip resurfacing. He's fit, he's sporty, and at the tender age of 50, he needed an operation. I'm not fit and sporty, but I am 50 - and I need both the damn things replaced and have done for about 15 years. Resurfacing was pioneered by Derek McMinn, another Northern Irish man. Kevin has acted as my guinea pig in all of this. In the cut-throat freelance world of broadcasting, I've never been able to set aside three months to hobble off the conveyor belt for a double op. I will struggle on until I've no alternative.

Stuck in a traffic jam on the M25, as I crawl along in the outside lane, I start spotting golf balls. One . . . two . . . seven . . . twenty - has a lorry shed its load? No, there's a bloomin' driving range backing on to the motorway! Who the hell gave permission for that? With the volume of balls stored up against the central reservation, these things don't just present a hazard to cars, they could bring down planes flying to Heathrow.

Although I'm back at work, my seven-year-old still has a couple more weeks off school. I took him and two of his pals on the Wembley Stadium tour and found myself heading straight for the bar - not to get sloshed, but to gaze at the one struck by Geoff Hurst's goal that never was, that was . . . that was! It's amazing. It meant nothing to the kids, but to me it was like the Shroud of Turin or Magna Carta - it was a part of history, 1966 and all that. It was old and ragged, it had bolts in it, was painted silver and it was bigger in real life. Then again, people say all those things about me.
I spent Sunday morning guest-hosting the Michael Ball show on Radio 2 and had a half-hour conversation on air with the veteran actress Siân Phillips. Ms Phillips is formidable in talent and, I had presumed, in personality, having seen her play the evil matriarch Livia in I Claudius. But au contraire - what a hoot she was. Without doubt the most delightful interview I have done in years. She told me that Joan Collins's part in Dynasty was based on her role in I Claudius and that Dallas was derived from the Robert Graves classic as well.

I asked her, since every famous female from Wales is called either Catherine or Siân, whether she was ever mistaken for the weathergirl? "Oh, quite often," she said. "The name was dead until I revived it - they're all named after me, including Siân Lloyd and Siân Williams!" The good news is that England won the Ashes. The bad news is I sit on the panel that advises the government which events should be free to air on TV. At the moment, Test match cricket is only on the B list, guaranteeing highlights. Should that change? Should there be a list at all in these multichannel days? We're scheduled to come up with a view in October. It's a big responsibility.

The Scottish justice minister, Kenny MacAskill, wrestled with the morality of freeing the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. Gordon Brown wrestled with criticism over whether he should have given us his view of what went on. The rest of the world wrestled with the concept of devolution and who actually makes decisions that affect Britain.

On Sky News we screened footage of Brown shaking hands with the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, while we all wondered whether he had wrestled the release deal out of Kenny and Gordon. But it served only to wrestle with my suspicious mind. Was the part of Gaddafi being played by the most famous wrestler of the lot - the actor Mickey Rourke? If not, the colonel and the movie star must use the same plastic surgeon. Have a look at their latest mugshots and tell me I'm wrong.

Eamonn Holmes is the anchorman for "Sky News Sunrise"

This article first appeared in the 31 August 2009 issue of the New Statesman, The next 100 years