Warm, spontaneous and unstoppable

What do those words conjure up for you? A catchy title for a radio programme . . . or something mor

On hearing of the abject pleasure of being asked to write this diary, I put in a call to Amanda, one of the producers of Radio 4's Broadcasting House, which revealed something disturbing and terrifying. No invitations to gorgeous evenings out (preferably with New Statesman-like intellectual edge) have come my way over the past nine months of maternity leave.

"You don't get any very exciting mail, do you?" Amanda helpfully pointed out. Perhaps she does not share my love of the annual report of the Football Foundation. Now that I have left Broadcasting House, I probably won't even get that. Sadly, when I log on to my e-mail account at the BBC this week for my new job, it gets worse. The IT department tells me I have been "cancelled" during my maternity leave and therefore no e-mails sent during this time will ever reach me. I can feel that you share my sadness.

I can tell you, though, that this week has consisted of a series of high-level, top-secret meetings about the various needs of our new programme on Saturday mornings on Radio 4. No, it's not Home Truths, but it's not not Home Truths either, if you see what I mean. This is a confusing situation, so a lot of time has been spent trying to think up catchy little straplines that encapsulate our aims in one easy-to-hand-out sentence. I have sat through this process before in an earlier incarnation on a different radio station where producers had helpfully come up with words to describe that programme. "Warm", "spontaneous" and "unstoppable" were the front-runners. What do these words make you think of? For me, they conjure up an advert in the States for people who pee when they don't want to.

The ad is for those suffering from "urgency urination problems" and it features a man and his wife at a concert. He is sitting right in the middle of the stalls when he realises he has a "UUP". His squirming and facial contortions are being tutted at by all of those happy, empty-bladdered concert-goers around him. Cut to a picture of the product - a box of pills, with about three seconds of voice-over saying, "Do you ever have an urgency to urinate? Help is now at hand . . ." Cut to a happy, contented, smiling man with no one tutting around him.

Now, to me it seems unlikely that he managed to get out of the stalls, run to the pharmacy, explain what the problem was, buy the pills and get back - all in three seconds. So the ad makes it look as if he's just, for want of a better expression, "let himself go" and is enjoying the feelings of warmth, spontaneity and being unstoppable.

I digress (but this is what happens when you don't send me any invitations), but suffice to say that at nine o'clock on 16 September, if you are listening to Radio 4 please, by all means, think warm and spontaneous thoughts - but do keep yourself dry.

Incidentally, if the only thing that caught your eye about that earlier paragraph was UUP, therefore leading you to think that I was writing about some fascinating developments in Northern Ireland, I am sorry. Yup - it's just about wee.

This week's highlight

I was very much holding out for Thursday as the highlight for this column. And I am sure by this stage, you are, too. Thursday brought lunch with the controller of Radio 4, Mark Damazer, at Riba. For this occasion, I had specially chosen a dress not encrusted with baby sick and I may even have been wearing heels.

Sadly, my attempts at dignified maturity were obliterated cruelly, as within minutes of sitting down I had a nosebleed. Now, were I to protest that this had nothing to do with growing up in the 1980s, working at GLR in the Nineties and then living in meedya-sodden Islington, you might start to think the worst. But, honest to goodness, I am not Radio 4's answer to Daniella Westbrook. I had a heavy cold, all right? But I tell you about this incident just in case a "difficult" photograph comes out in one of the tabloids. I do like to imagine that the paparazzi are following me all the time but I think that, on this occasion, it may have been a couple of Japanese tourists wanting to photograph Broadcasting House once I had got out of the way.

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