I’ve never been much of a driver. Firstly, because I don’t really have to — and no, that’s not because I’ve got limos and chauffeurs up the wazoo. It’s because London’s got one of the greatest public transport systems in the world (when it works). I adore the Tube. One day, I hope there will be a Rinder line; its colour will be “sparkly” and it’ll have three stops (Golders Green, Islington and Parliament Hill Lido).
Secondly, I don’t drive out of respect for other road users. It took me five goes to pass my test. On one of the early tries, after some ticklish manoeuvre (I think it was called “going forward”), the examiner asked if I was trying to kill us both. He stopped the car and, as we walked back to the station, suggested driving might not be my thing.
But thirdly, the quantity of gas-guzzlers on the roads is just terrible for the city and the planet. Not only that, it seems to be getting worse (just ask any taxi driver). As people head back to work, London has started to feel like one enormous, honking, grimy car park. On the back of weeks of terrifying COP26 figures, this just feels reckless.
It’s amazing to have life getting back to normal, but recently — and I never thought this could happen — I’ve almost missed the empty streets of lockdown. We’ve all got to try harder to drive less.
That said, once I’d been thoroughly caffeinated, presenting GMB was the most astoundingly joyous experience. It was such an absurd privilege to put the big questions to everyone from Sajid Javid to Frank Bruno. I also got to meet Jason Donovan (a dream since I saw his Scott marry Kylie’s Charlene back in ’87).
Not only that, but I also got to work with perhaps the heavenliest of my friends: Susanna Reid. It’s always remarkable to see the quantities of sweating and hefting, hammering and galloping that go on behind the scenes when you’re making telly — and that’s just my hair and make-up — and GMB is another level altogether. But Susanna manages to make it all look effortless — somehow digesting acres of news while riding a constantly shifting schedule, and all the time maintaining levels of poise and focus that took my breath away.
Truly, being on screen with her was one the most intense and incredible encounters I’ve ever had. I’m counting down the days till my next go (December 1 — do tune in).
In other news...
It always baffles me when normally sensible people buy into conspiracies
I don’t mean the “Princess Anne is a lizard monster” guys, but the ones who believe that some shadowy, nefarious group is running the world. “THEY want to us all to wear masks,” they’ll say, or “THEY want drugs companies to rule the world”. This nonsense isn’t just half-baked, it’s raw and starting to turn. By a series of strange accidents, I’ve met a lot of the “THEM”: various powerful people in Government, entertainment and the rest. But I encountered most of them first in their teens and twenties, so I’ve seen them passed out drunk, lighting their farts or panicking over essays.
Knowing these guys pretty well I can reveal that, of course, there’s no villainous THEM at the centre of it all. In truth, it’s just the chaos of normal people trying their best. Which, when you think about it, is actually far more disturbing.
Are you prepared to start driving less to help the planet? Let us know in the comments below.