When I wrote my first book, I ended up promoting it on Radio 4’s Loose Ends. At that time it was a Saturday morning show, presented by Ned Sherrin, and went out live.
I was terrified. I’d heard the show often. Ned Sherrin was a rather legendary figure in British satire. It had endlessly glamorous figures on it like Emma Freud! Gene played a song live! There was always a persistent note of complicit laughter that suggested what was going on in the studio was much funnier than anything that came out of our radios. I had no idea why they wanted me on the show.
It became fairly clear that Ned didn’t really want me on the show. He barely spoke to me beforehand or after, left me to the very end (so that I could be easily ‘bumped’ if things ran over), and, as you’ll hear, seemed to think my book a little silly.
Nonetheless, I managed to hold my ground, even when, at one point, he asks me to explain Jacques Derrida’s theory of ‘iterability’ live on air. I think the fact that I got a joke out of it meant he warmed towards me and sent a sweet postcard afterwards thanking me for having expanded his vocabulary.
After the recording we all repaired to a pub, which bemused me; it was 11am! Ned drank copiously but with other guests. I chatted for a while with Sanjeev Bhaskar who was also on the show and, I can confirm, is a completely lovely person (unless he’s changed…). With Sanjeev on the show was Sharat Sardana, the producer and co-writer of Goodness Gracious Me, and with whom I was briefly friends at school (he only stayed at my school for the first year, but was, I swear to God, the funniest person I ever met, before or since).
Anyway, you can hear my segment below. God I sound posh. I know I sound posh now, but I sounded even posher then. I put it down to having spent an hour in a radio studio listening to Ned Sherrin.