In Munich with Sherlock Holmes - and why I'm swatting up on politics.
A week in the media, starting with a talk in Munich on Sherlock Holmes again. They place me in a theatre normally used by professors who perform autopsies for medical students, a steeply raked circle with about 200 people rising up above me and putting me in mind of Rembrandt’sAnatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp, with me very much the one being dissected. As usual I see almost nothing of Munich apart from a quick visit to a square for sausage, sauerkraut and a glass of beer so huge I don’t know whether to drink it or swim in it. A surprising number of people are wearing Bavarian national costume – long dresses for the women and, for the men, leather trousers with an oversized pocket that seems designed either to protect or to draw attention to the genitals. Sadly, I don’t have time to try a pair on.
I do sometimes wonder if these trips are worthwhile. First of all there’s the carbon footprint to consider, as well as the misery of yet more hours wasted at the airport. And then there’s the cost. The flights, the taxis, the hotel, meals, drinks and the rest of it. Who pays? I suppose at the end of the day, I do – as the cost will have to come out of sales of the book. At least the Germans seem to enjoy it. I am careful, of course, not to mention the (Foyle’s) war but the audience seems to know the series well even though it’s not shown on German television. I’m surprised to be told how much anti-German feeling young travellers still experience all around the world.
And meanwhile I’m swotting up for my appearance on ITV’s new political discussion show, Agenda. Why does anyone agree to appear on these things, I wonder? Why, for that matter, did I? Well, all right, I’m lonely. I have an insatiable desire to appear on television because it’s the one time I’m cosseted and made to feel special before I’m thrown to the wolves, or Tom Bradby in this case. But you have to ask what’s in it for William Hague? Or Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson? She has 11 Paralympic gold medals, does she need to have opinions too?
By the time this is published it’ll be behind me so I can be a touch ungracious and say that Agenda has a slightly awkward format. Four people talking on three different subjects with a presenter and pre-filmed inserts leaves, by my reckoning, about one and a quarter minutes each per issue. And, this being ITV, the ads will feel longer than the programme. Still, there’ll be drinks and sandwiches and I get to meet a Tory minister without having to pay. I shouldn’t complain.