Diary - John Humphrys

Nearly 20 years on Today, and I've never asked anyone about their designer vagina

I may be making a bold claim here, but I believe this to be the earliest attack before Christmas on newspapers writing too early about Christmas.

The offending piece appeared in the Telegraph more than a week ago (precisely nine weeks before Christmas) and it was all about . . . Oh hell, what does it matter what it was about? Something to do with the real meaning of giving at Christmas, or why can't children sit on Santa's knee any longer. They're all the same and they all make you want to write to Osama Bin Laden and ask if he knows of any nice caves for rent in the Hindu Kush for the duration of the so-called festive season. I've managed to avoid the worst of it for the past few years by going away to Muslim countries - no canned carols in the shops, and plenty of flights available because the Americans won't risk going there. But last year my hotel, owned by a Muslim businessman, imported a Father Christmas. He wasn't entirely convincing. A black beard doesn't go terribly well with a red suit.

I tried to persuade my little boy that it must have got black when he came down the chimneys - all that soot. It didn't work. Even three-year-olds know that there aren't many houses on the Equator with chimneys. Anyway, this year it's going to be Wales. There must be one or two pagan hamlets left.

I had a little summer house built in the garden this year and I've just had an electricity supply connected. Big deal, eh? Well, it is, if you live in London and have tried to find an electrician recently. The first one came to case the joint and went away with a promise that he'd send an estimate for the job. That was four months ago. No estimate. The next one did send an estimate and said he could almost certainly get the job done before the Arctic ice cap melted entirely but he couldn't promise. Then I hired a nice young Polish guy to paint my house, which he did brilliantly. I said I needed a new radiator. "No problem," he said, "I plumber." Maybe he could fix a dodgy handrail? "No problem, I carpenter." I pushed my luck: maybe the wiring? "No problem. I electrician."

So that's it. Everything's done. He came at eight every morning, left at eight every evening, and left everything spotlessly clean. I asked him how long he planned to stay in Britain. "So long as I find work," he said. Darek, my friend, on that basis you will stay for ever. And please bring some more like you. Just don't tell the Daily Mail.

Publication day for the book on Monday. Did the rounds of the daytime telly shows. Writers whinge if they don't get asked and still whinge if they do. Dead boring, they say. No it's not. You meet all sorts of celebs and strange people. Charles Dance was one. Sadly, he's just as glamorous in real life. Oh, and a woman with a designer vagina. Bearing two large babies had left her . . . umm . . . too loose for her partner's taste. So she went under the knife. Lorraine Kelly and Philip Schofield's interview with her was masterly. Schofield actually asked (with perfect composure) whether perhaps the partner could have been augmented rather than she be reduced. Her surgeon (she'd brought him with her) said that was marginally more difficult. Schofield persisted. Made me feel wimpish. Nearly 20 years on Today, and I've never got near a question like that. They earn their money, these daytime telly people. Anyway, it didn't work. It split apart. The relationship, I mean. It was all rather sad.

One more claim to being first: this is the first column to complain about coverage of the US presidential election. The one in 2008, that is. It started within 48 hours of the last one. A governor called Mark Warner seems to be in the running for the Democrats, unless it's Hillary, of course. Dear God, are we really going to have four years of this? Choosing the candidates this far out is a mug's game.

Actually, I did get it right once. I told my London office long before the primaries had begun that Jimmy Carter was going to win in 1976. There were two pieces of solid research underlying my prediction. One was that he was the only candidate I had met, so I could sound reasonably knowledgeable about him. The other was that it was snowing in Washington and Carter was campaigning down in Florida. I still think he was a better president than he was given credit for. But then, I owe him.

Lost for Words by John Humphrys is out from Hodder & Stoughton (£14.99)

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