Scientists are experimenting with growing replacement vocal cords in the lab, as well as transplanting them from dogs. That was the Sun’s imaginative angle on my somewhat croaky debut as a Today programme presenter (only one of mine is working properly). It led me to ponder which species of donor would be fitting for my new role. Rottweiler? Too aggressive. Terrier, perhaps? Annoying after a while. Maybe a shepherd or a pointer would fit better with the mission to explain? All suggestions gratefully received. Bar one, that is. Husky is out.
If my first programme had not been dominated by events in Paris, I had planned to talk about the world’s greatest city. I speak of Manchester, of course. This was in part to mark the fact that my home city is at the forefront of a democratic revolution that is changing our country. One great English city after another — Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool, Sheffield — has signed up to take more control of its affairs and to elect its own version of Boris or Ken. I also planned it, in part, as a tribute to the man who inspired my dream to present Today — the late great Brian Redhead. I’m well aware of the risks of sounding like a professional northerner while living just a little north of Islington. However, this chippy northerner would love to reprise one of Redhead’s greatest hits. After reading a short weather forecast — ‘brighter in the north, duller in the south’ — Brian added, ‘Like the people.’
Two years ago, just a few days after the Commons opposed airstrikes on Syria, I read another memorable phrase to David Cameron. It was what President Putin’s spokesman had been saying about Britain in private — ‘a small island no one pays attention to’.