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Archives for October 2012

Off to Glasgow!

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Anne Diamond | 15:01 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Eggheads

I'm off to Glasgow tomorrow, to film Celebrity Eggheads. It should be great fun, because I'll be taking part in a special Breakfast Television team. All I know so far is that there'll be Diana Moran, the Green Goddess who used to be on BBC Breakfast Time, plus Lizzie Webb, who was TVam's fitness guru.


We're all travelling up together on the same flight - should be a hoot. Though whether we'll be any good on general knowledge up against those Eggheads, goodness only knows!

Fifty years of Bond in Berkshire

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Anne Diamond | 13:46 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Anne Diamond at the Bond stage

Not a great day for swimming, but here I am at Pinewood, where we've been marking fifty years of Bond movies in our patch.

Skyfall has, apparently, some utterly fantastic underwater scenes including a breathtaking battle - which took place in the very tank in front of me.

Thanks to everyone who made us so welcome at Pinewood - you can hear my programme again here.

Fabulous autumn colour - all on one tree!

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Anne Diamond | 13:35 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2012

Autumn leaves

My guest today, Mike Buffin, Gardens and Parks Adviser for the National Trust, brought in a handful of leaves that illustrate the beauty and wealth of autumn colour at the moment. And these leaves were all off the same tree- at the same time!


They're from a Liquidambar, also known as a SweetGum. Just in case you fancy planting one in your garden for a feast of colour every autumn, be warned, they grow big - at least to 60 feet.

Places to go to feast your eyes on autumn colour - Mike recommends The Japanese Garden at Cliveden, The Vyne, Basildon Park and Greys Court.

A "polymathlete" Gold medallist.

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Anne Diamond | 12:30 UK time, Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Anne and David smith with a gold medal

If someone's brilliant in many subjects, we call him a polymath.


Dictionary definition: "From the Greek polymathēs, "having learned much". A person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas." Leonoardo daVinci was a notable polymath.

Well, what if you're someone who's brilliant at not just one, nor two, three, but at least four different sports - at world level?

Well we tend to refer to them as multisport athletes or sporting polymaths.

But why not polymathletes?

One such was certainly my guest today, Paralympic goldmedallist David Smith, who was born with what they used to call "club feet", and yet has competed at national and internataional levels in karate, skiing, bobsleigh and finally Paralympic rowing. See his wonderful gold medal above. Hear his story on the iPlayer!!

Eamonn the Penguin..and the story of a zebra crossing..

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Anne Diamond | 10:35 UK time, Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A penguin

What's the most unusual sighting you've ever made - and then acted upon it? I was with Eamonn Holmes this morning who was telling me about the time he p-p-picked up a penguin one morning at Belfast's George Best airport. He was in a taxi, that pulled up at a zebra crossing just outside the terminal - to let a penguin cross.

Eamonn rubbed his eyes. Too many early mornings? Sleep in his eyes?

No, it really was a penguin.

At Belfast airport.

Yes I know.

The taxi driver paused, and then continued, as if this sort of thing happened every day. But enterprising Eamonn got a few people together and went looking for the penguin, which was meandering around the airport.

Now it's in Belfast city zoo.

And it's called Eamonn!!!

Beat that.

The storm that felled my astronaut.

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Anne Diamond | 14:55 UK time, Monday, 15 October 2012

Michael fish and his weather map in 1987

I'm very much a child of the space age - always watched every space mission, spent many hours trudging around Cape Canaveral, and am a huge fan of sci fi. So imagine how excited I was when, 25 years ago, at the height of my breakfast TV life, I found that I was to interview one of the Apollo 16 astronauts - one of the men who'd actually trodden on the moon. He was to be a guest on Good Morning Britain - I think he'd just brought out a book.


But then, at about 2.30am, I woke to the sound of crashing trees and a howling wind. It was the Great Storm of 1987 and it was in full flood as I made my way through the pitch black dark into work at 3.

By the time I went on air, in an emergency studio (we had no power for the big studio), we were beginning to realise that it wasn't just a London thing, it was affecting an enormous part of the country.

I was wearing a bright red sweater dress with a Bugs Bunny cartoon on the front. By the time reports of the first death came in, I couldn't change my outfit (no power in the wardrobe section) so I simply pulled my jumper around, so that I was wearing it back to front.

Gradually it became clear that the programme had become a 'news special' rather than a magazine show that morning, and so a decision was taken to drop the lighter elements of the show.

Thus my Apollo astronaut, who was sitting munching croissants in the Green Room (in the dark), was asked to leave. And I never got to meet him.

I'll always, always, always regret it.

The letters that survived Princess Margaret's burning!

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Anne Diamond | 13:56 UK time, Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Queen Mother

Perhaps the Queen Mother knew that one day her scribblings would become historical documents. She wrote hundreds and hundreds of letters throughout her lifetime, and thankfully many boxes of them have survived - now kept in the archives at Windsor Castle. Whilst he was writing her official biography, William Shawcross was allowed to sneak a peek at them, and couldn't believe what a treasure he'd found. Now he's pulled together some of the best, and published them in a book, and they paint us a fascinating picture of the real woman behind the regal face.


It's believed that Princess Margaret had several "tidying up" sessions, in which she burned those letters that perhaps gave away too much - letters between the QM and Princess Diana, for example.

But those that are left still brim with personality and charm - and the occasional spark of wit, anger and even tears.

How the English language has changed!

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Anne Diamond | 13:50 UK time, Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A mobile phone

Was looking into the history of the language we all speak - well, the majority of the world, anyway - with author Joseph Piercey. But even more interesting is the way our language is developing, through text and acronym.


Try translating this, submitted in all seriousness as an English essay along the lines of 'what I did during the summer holidays' by a young teenage student:

'My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we used 2 go 2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :-@ kds FTF. ILNY, its gr8.'
As essays go, it was brief!

It took us ages to figure out what CWOT meant. For your enlightenment, it's "complete waste of time".

FTF we think is "face to face".

But :-@ has got us foxed.

Can we do it all over again, please?

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Anne Diamond | 15:47 UK time, Tuesday, 9 October 2012

olympic park overview

I wish the Olympics could come around all over again - just so I could volunteer and be part of the amazing Games Makers phenomenon.


My guest today, the Rev. Louise Brown, from All Saints Church at Dedworth, was a Games Maker Chaplain during both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and told me she has never experienced such a fantastic feeling of being part of something special. From a crowd on the tube spontaneously bursting into song, through to making a connection with a young Kenyan athlete who still keeps in touch; from helping athletes come to terms with success and failure, through to her heart nearly bursting with happiness at the Paralympics closing ceremony.

I so envy her!

Fairy lights are not just for Christmas...

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Anne Diamond | 14:11 UK time, Monday, 8 October 2012

The model pub with street lamp made from fairy lights

I have learned that they can be used to light your model railway!


This weekend, I was trying to get my head around model railway electrics - because I want working lights inside my buildings (so you get a golden glow from within) and also at least two or three working lamposts. Well, said one chap in my local model shop, try a set of tiny, miniature Christmas lights - they're safe, efficient, and nowadays small enough to poke through your baseboard and light your village.

So off I went to my local garden centre and chose a set with light tips small enough to play the part.

See above - the lampost is lit with real light. Now my village pub looks warm and welcoming. By the way - a million thanks to Dorian Edwards, choirmaster extraordinaire from Wokingham, who donated the pub itself, for which I have planted a garden and a front courtyard with hanging sign - it's called The Stone Table (references to Narnia).
BTW - please don't take any of my electrical decisions as any kind of recommendation - please make up your own mind, and take your own advice!

Visions of Hattie jacques and James Robertson Justice.

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Anne Diamond | 14:05 UK time, Thursday, 4 October 2012

Doctor holds a Stethascope

We were talking about ward rounds today - and the grim prediction that they're a) dying out and b) could be phased out due to NHS financial cutbacks.


It immediately made me think of those old Carry On and Doctor In The House movies with those fantastic characters, Sir Lancelot Spratt, the consultant, and the scary Matron.

They were comic parodies of the real thing, but so many patients and nurses are nostalgic for that era of total discipline and co-ordination in our hospitals. Thoughts of the ward round disappearing are worrying. Even if your consultant was a crusty old curmudgeon like Sir Lancelot, you still valued your moments with him. Get rid of ward rounds, and I bet we'll never get to see our doctors face to face!

Now that's what I call courage!

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Anne Diamond | 14:38 UK time, Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Calendar girls in the studio with Anne

Taking off your kit in the name of art! These are the lovely Berkshire ladies who're appearing in 'Calendar Girls', the stage production, and so it goes on raising marvellous amounts of money for charity as Calendar Girls mania sweeps the UK. They've just released the amateur performance rights, which means that amateur productions companies up and down the country are having a go!


It's on at the Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park, Bracknell from next Thursday.

These wonderful ladies have accordingly thrown themselves into their parts, covering their parts with everything from strategically placed bunches of flowers to ever more stale Chelsea buns!

Let's have our own Royal rummage...

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Anne Diamond | 13:52 UK time, Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Knights pose on the site of Richard 3rd

I've been transfixed by the whole soap opera regarding the digging up of Britain's most infamous monarch, Richard the third. The idea that the sovereign, notorious for murdering his way to the throne, including the two little princes in the Tower of London, has been decomposing away for all these years underneath the tarmac of a Leicester pay-and-display car park is both grisly and fascinating, like a whodunit that's taken centuries to solve.


Even more exciting, then, is the idea that we in Berkshire have our own mystery that could similarly result in a pile of Regal bones.

Because somewhere under the ruins of Reading Abbey lie the remains of Henry I. He was a son of William the Conqueror, and while he was King, he actually founded Reading Abbey in 1121, one reason he was buried there after his death in Normandy.

Amazingly his body was brought back sewn into a bull's hide - thought to be better at preservation than pickling! The abbey of course was partly destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII but there is no firm record of what happened to Henry I's remains. I've spoken to local historians who reckon it's worth digging around for - there's a plaque marking the rough area of his grave but rumours place the exact spot under nearby St. James' School.

It surely would be worth a rummage? Whilst not such a controversial king as Richard the third, he certainly had his moments. Henry may too have murdered his way to the top job, and had so many children on both sides of the blanket, it's hard to keep count.

Tourism has had a terrific shot in the arm in Leicester, where 1,400 visitors a day flocked to the Greyfriars dig site during the fortnight it was open - and many more are anxious to set up a museum of artefacts. Perhaps we in Berkshire deserve a similar Royal boost!

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