No civilised person knows who John Humphrys is. I’ve looked into it and I discover he’s rather a sad case — an insomniac who telephones politicians at dawn and interrupts them while they’re still half asleep. This strange career has won him celebrity among the restless multitude who, like him, insist on getting up in the middle of the night. It has also won him a book contract. His last work was about sloppy English. So is the new one, but as he unfurls his endless series of hastily written gibberish it becomes clear that he’s less interested in inarticulacy than he is in his jumble sale of parochial antipathies. He mouths off about all kinds of things: advertising, the lottery, Liz Hurley, train announcements, meetings at the Beeb, leaflets that slither out of your newspaper, Blair wanting to be called ‘Tony’. On it goes. Humphrys is like a taxi-driver; he’s only sure of himself when he’s telling you what he hates. Flash a bit of optimism at him and he’ll tell you it’s bound to end in tears.
Welsh-born son of Cardiff he may be, but I cannot abide John Humphrys. I find it impossible to listen to his vapid, self important hectoring without imagining setting the dogs on him.
I avoid the Today programme on Radio 4 just to minimise his chances of assaulting my eardrums, so I suppose that it was him who drove me into the arms of The World Today on the BBC World Service of a morning.
He's due thanks for that, but otherwise nada.