Friday, 4 October 2019
The Day I Went Head-to-Head With John Humphrys
Even a decade ago, his reputation was fearsome. Smug industrialists, vapid celebrities, pompous academics, complacent clergy and slippery politicians all wilted under his relentless interrogations. Morning after morning, John Humphrys chewed them up and spat them out, before most of us had spooned down our soggy Choco-crispies. Now it was my turn for a grilling.
Luckily, it was a phone interview. I wouldn’t be able to see him during the cross-examination; wouldn’t be able to note the way his eyes glittered, his jaw clenched, and foam flecked his lips.
Nevertheless, as I waited to hear that familiar belligerent baritone on the other end of the line, my heart hammer-drilled in my chest, my palms grew slick with sweat, and cotton-wool filled my mouth. At this rate, it would be a miracle if I managed to croak out ‘hello’ to the man, let alone construct a coherent sentence.
Then suddenly, there he was.
I glanced down at my notes. Yes, I could do this. Count to three, then ...
‘Right, John Humphrys,’ I said. ‘I have some questions to put to you. And none of your dodging, fudging or obfuscation.’