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  • W & N Non Fiction
  • W&N

What I Learnt

Jeremy Vine

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Radio, Ballroom dancing, Autobiography: arts & entertainment, Prose: non-fiction, Humour

Jeremy Vine has been presenting a BBC Radio 2 show since 2003 that attracts more than seven million listeners. In that time he calculates he has taken more than 25,000 calls on topical subjects - big issues and small ones: on life, love, lollipop ladies and poisonous plants. But what have the callers told him?

In the age of Brexit and Donald Trump, is the world now being run by Radio 2 listeners? If you listen to Radio 4, Brexit was a shock. If you are a Radio 2 listener it wouldn't have surprised you at all. Where Jeremy's callers once expressed a kind of resignation ('But what can you do?' or the gloomy rejoinder: 'You have to laugh'), now they tend to give him their views expecting to be heeded. They have not called in to entertain the audience. They expect to take the wheel of the car and drive.

Listener wisdom is far more valuable than most of what we hear from appointed spokespeople. What was the response when Jeremy asked: 'Have you ever been pecked in the eye by a gannet?' Which subjects are most likely to start pitched warfare between different sections of the audience? (Answer: old people using buses, old people NOT using buses, cellophane, or Tony Blair saying anything.)

In a book punctuated by vivid anecdotes and laugh-out-loud moments, Jeremy Vine explains what it's like to hit a button and hear - totally unvarnished and unspun - the voices of so-called ordinary people. And why they are not so ordinary after all.

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