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Window On Your World UPDATE

Eddie Mair | 10:33 UK time, Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Exciting news. I am told, by grown ups who know about these things (Gillian) that all the photos will be posted by Sunday. Personally, I think that's ambitious, but I pass the information on to you with hope and a song in my heart.

Last night's programme was full of interesting things. A listener complained to the BBC that I was rude to David Cameron. Apparently I tried to "trip him up with trivial questions and make things awkward for him. We should be treating guests with respect."

Two other people were upset I didn't correct a guest who "mistakenly referred to the Bishop Of Southwark as the Bishop Of Woolwich". The listeners were annoyed by this and think I should have corrected the error. In fact, the person who referred to the Bishop Of Southwark as the Bishop Of Woolwich was (according to our guest) the Bishop Of Southwark, when he was drunk. So if you're going to bash anyone...

One email we had to agree with was about our reference - in a news bulletin - to the "girls" affected by the murders in Ipswich. One listener wrote complaining that we should "please adhere to NUJ guidelines and refrain from referring to women who work as prostitutes as "girls". They are not children.". She's right of course. We shouldn't call them girls and we'll do our best not to.

We love hearing from our listeners - whatever the comments. And sometimes listeners come to our rescue. For example, the other day we heard from Helen, who emailed this:

"I gather you are having problems dealing with the avalanche of listeners' images.

I am very computer literate (not in the programming sense but can deal with uploading images to a website) and would be happy to volunteer to assist. I realise it may be impossible - for all kinds of byzantine reasons - for my offer to be accepted, but just in case I am being overly cynical, I could offer a day or a couple of half days, maybe more and could do this weekend, evenings or one day next week.

How's that for a reasonably concrete offer?"

We loved that offer so much - we've taken Helen up on it. She'll be here from tomorrow!

By the way - did you enjoy the Water Vole item last night? Tomorrow's blog will have a bit of background on it...featuring audio...


  1. At 10:47 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Dr Hackenbush wrote:

    I missed the programme yesterday, so thank you for all of the above.

    My last PM newsletter was dated the 7th Dec, and arrived over the weekend. The Friday and Monday editions are still lost. Am I the only one, and is (the wonderful) Lissa avoiding acknowledging my complaints on this?

  2. At 10:49 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Humph wrote:

    Now, now, Mr. Mayor. Don't forget that there are some people who are still using up film in their camaras!

    Incidently, is it going to be possible to change captions with the postings? I know that the details I sent with mine (page 1, pic 75) were rather long winded but the edit means that many people will not be able to tell what I am doing there. I would send a shorter missive if it could change the one that is there. If this is allowed, should I re-send the pic so that moderators know that I am not trolling? I have not done this yet as I believe that it is more important to most people to get the pictures on the site and I did not want to make more work to slow the process down.


  3. At 10:57 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Bash the bishop?

    Surely not...

  4. At 11:03 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Yes, I did enjoy the Water Vole item, especially when you said they are rather cute, and asked what the Water Vole Steering Group does. Let's hope it keeps its hand on the tiller.

    I only half-heard the item about Tom Butler; it sounded to me as if it was going to be somewhat embarrassing to the C of E.

  5. At 11:06 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Aunt Dahlia wrote:

    Hooray, Humph' back. Our right and trusty chum is back online woopee.
    And Helen is going to be an extra on the prog. What more could a frog (with a roaring hangover) want?

  6. At 11:06 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Karl Handy wrote:

    Ahhh... If I'd have thought for a moment that you'd take a volunteer! Devastated...

  7. At 11:06 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Eddie Mair wrote:

    Humph (2), you're right. We will post photos which come in in future - we're just excited about getting through the THOUSANDS in our inbox!

  8. At 11:16 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Aunt Dahlia wrote:

    Sorry, I actually meant to comment on Eddie's reported criticees in re DC. I heard the interview. The man was as slithery as an armful of whippet puppies at being pinned down to saying anything that remotely resembled 'yes'. I thought you were relatively mild with him. However, it is not a Tory fault. I have in recent days heard Margaret Becket and Patricia Thing, the SoS for Health, both womanfully going the full distance several times to avoid committing themselves to a definite response.
    If only politicians would take on board the fact that we would have more time for them if they actually said 'Yes, its an outrage, I'll get on to it at once'. Or No, we can't do that because the money has been allocated differently.'
    Why can't they be open? We know they have political pressures which make decision making difficult - but the decisions are made anyway. We understand that - why can't they credit us with a modicum of sense and come clean?
    And have they all been to the same voice coach?

  9. At 11:17 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Chrissie the Trekkie wrote:

    I got the impression that our cunning water voles are migrating to Scotland and over to the Isles to escape those nasty yankee mink. How enterprising of the little things. Maybe they'll team up with the red squirrel and start a British Countryside for the British Wildlife movement? They can have my support!

  10. At 11:23 AM on 12 Dec 2006, valery p (Tumbleflump Holly-Hippoface) wrote:

    Good - to the fact that you aren't closing the Window on Sunday (nope, still haven't sent it).

    Bad - Si, naughty stool again please :o)

  11. At 11:45 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Fifi (and I'm still not Fiona!) wrote:

    Aunt Dahlia (8) : I'm with you, every word of it.

    Have you noticed how often an interviewee, faced with a tricky question, will shift the ground back to where he/she wants it by saying: 'The important thing is....' followed by straight repetition of the last thing said?

    I heard Patricia Hewitt do it several times in the course of an interview a couple of days ago, IDS on TWAO yesterday ("marriage is a wonderful institution") and DC on PM last night. Blair and Brown do it all the time.

    Surely interviewers can devise a form of words to render this tactic ineffective. Such as: "What the *electorate* thinks is important is having people answer a straightforward question..."

    Thereby reclaiming the word 'important' at least for the duration of that interview.

    When the interviewees find another form of words to drag the subject back to their comfort zone, the interviewers would simply hijack the new words in the same way.

    I think we may have a plan!

  12. At 11:54 AM on 12 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Oh for that Helen being me, but alas my computer literacy is wanting, I shall just be very happy if the stunning (not) photograh of my desk appears!

  13. At 12:02 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    People only seem to tell the truth when they've resigned, or joined the back bench, unless they are Diane Abbott who has made a career out of not being a career politician. I heard David Blunkett being very candid about school league tables on some R4 programme last night, far more interesting that the wiggling they do in when in office.

  14. At 12:02 PM on 12 Dec 2006, silver-fox wrote:

    Water Voles are very fond of apples.

  15. At 12:08 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Aunt Dahlia wrote:

    S-F 13
    any particular variety - crumble? Baked? pie?

  16. At 12:16 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Mrs Trellis wrote:

    Aunt Dahlia, Fifi. I too have noticed the way our elected representatives appear to avoid giving straight answers by simply restating their last sentence. I find myself shouting at the radio "just answer the question". The other thing that irritates me is the patronising tone that many of them adopt as if they are saying "well, you wouldn't, couldn't understand the complexities of the argument so I am not going to bother you with the facts I will simply utter inanities and soft soap until you lose interest and go back to watching pop idol etc".
    Now I realise that many of the worlds problems cannot be given simple yes or no answers and that there are many shades of grey but the fact that they will not even admit the ambiguities out loud instead relying on a stock answer which doesn't say anything at all makes me want to weep with frustration sometimes.
    I think the best course of action is when they refuse to answer the question simply stop the interview and say that there is little point in continuing if they are not going to be honest with us thereby denying them a platform to get the "party line" over.

  17. At 12:22 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Deepthought (John W) wrote:

    Simon (3),

    Careful, he's already got a sore head and a black eye...

  18. At 12:24 PM on 12 Dec 2006, admin annie wrote:

    that would be the Diane Abbot who said the NHS shouldn't employ blonde blue eyed finnish nurses would it? I think she was a career politician before she made that gaffe!

  19. At 12:32 PM on 12 Dec 2006, valery p (Tumbleflump Holly-Hippoface) wrote:

    Mrs T - hear, hear, I second that.

  20. At 12:35 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Chris, London. wrote:

    HELLO little ones,

    A bleak and blustery morning indeed and if the weathermen are to be believed, there’s worse to come, much worse. Water Voles will love it, love it, love it.

    The next few days, be prepared to snuggle in deep, big telly and book nights, with nice food and early to bed. Sometimes the planet needs a few days to let it’s hair down. We should make the most of this enforced incarceration and rest up ready for Christmas.

  21. At 12:44 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Otter wrote:

    I listened to the interview with Mr Cameron last night and I don't feel that Eddie was rude to him. Instead, I think proper pressure and scrutiny was applied to the views of a politician who will soon ask us to make him Prime Minister.
    As several contributors have noted already; people would respect politicians more if they sounded less like salesman and more like they had a passionate and honest belief in what they think.

  22. At 01:04 PM on 12 Dec 2006, whisky-joe wrote:

    My dear friends: I'd like you to know, that I've never been a bishop. Hiccup!

  23. At 01:04 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Val P (10);
    Hee hee hee. *Giggles from the naughty stool whilst facing the corner*

    It was too obvious to pass up.

    Si. ;-}

  24. At 01:07 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Bob Oliver wrote:

    Water voles and bashing bishops - we must be in the silly season already. If I had not heard it myself I wouldn't have believed it.

    How many more pictures are there yet to be posted - I have not seen the two I sent for myself and the girl (whoops) lady who sits next to me.

  25. At 01:12 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Humph wrote:

    Welcome back, Mrs. T.

    The one change that I would make to your suggestion about ending the interview is that the interviewer should ask a totally non-contenous question before ending the interview. Something like "what is your favorite colour?", "are there clouds in the sky?" or, in a face-to-face interview, "how many fingers am I holding up?" If the interviewee can still not give a straight answer, then the interview is probably a waste of time. I would also point out that not all the culprits are politicians.


  26. At 01:17 PM on 12 Dec 2006, ian wrote:

    Could you ask the Today crew if any old drunk is allowed to have a Thought for the Day slot, or if I need a further qualif-hic-ation...

  27. At 01:19 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Humph wrote:

    Aunt Dahlia (5)

    Thanks for that. I haven't actually been away. However, as I only get internet access at work, I have found it a bit difficult to keep up with the number of threads and find time to contribute. Why is it that so many people want things done before Christmas when they do not use what you provide them with until mid-January?



    (. . . that with which you provide them.)

  28. At 01:28 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Deepthought (John W) wrote:

    Humph (27)

    Am with you with that one.

    Back to applying nose to grindstone...

  29. At 01:32 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Stewart M wrote:

    It does annoy me when Interviewees refuse to give a straight answer. There must be a school somewhere that teaches them. It also slowly sneaks down from on high and has seeped into all areas of public life. I feel that My local Primary Care Trust is starting to use politician speak. They want to "engage in dialog" but any negotiations to provide new services have to be "cost neutral".

    And as for Hewitt suggesting trusts should be in surplus by the end of 2008. I can't see how. Any savings in health should be reinvested in getting the lower priority folk seen. So you can arguably never be in surplus. That woman does annoy me.

    Any way rant over. Back to gainful employment

  30. At 01:43 PM on 12 Dec 2006, gossipmistress wrote:

    Helen Sparkles, I saw your photo - A very nice desk! I was in Amalfi last summer too, in June. We were staying near Ravello. It's a fantastic place isn't it?!

  31. At 01:46 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Helen the volunteer wrote:

    Crikey - after weeks of hiding behind a sand dune on the beach I suddenly find myself not only on a blog but quoted in Lord Mair's introductory address... My fifteen minutes of fame at last (and I'm the only one who knows it's me)...

  32. At 02:02 PM on 12 Dec 2006, TonyH wrote:

    Don't bother to apologise for using the word "girls".

    The Concise OED has this definition of "girl":-
    Women who mix socially or belong to a group.

    Isn't that good enough to call them "girls".

  33. At 02:09 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Congratulations Helen the volunteer. Give Eddie a big kiss from me. (Vigil hasn't started yet).

    Among all the interviewee-bashing here can we all please remember that often the interviewer asks some questions in order to be mischeivous and that we should be as sceptical about his/her agenda as we are about the interviewee's? Cheers.

  34. At 02:15 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Andrew Auld wrote:

    Loved the water vole coverage - actually saw one recently in Derbyshire on the Cromford Canal.

    Though they look cuddly and cute, you want to be careful Eddie because I am sure they nip if cornered!

  35. At 02:41 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    How funny gossipmistress, I expect a lot of people were though really, & it is just wonderful. I'm afraid my desk is a lot more cluttered today than it was in the photo, symptomatic of my chaos of mind today!

  36. At 02:43 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Helen the volunteer, I hope they are treating you well, & Eddie buys you lunch! Oh dear, I can hear some wailing in the background at that thought, but those people (they know who they are with the scented vigil!) couldn't have done the job & would have spent all their time mooning instead of uploading photographs! Have fun Helen, & tell us any secrets you discover, we promise not to tell on you!

  37. At 03:08 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Yes But wrote:

    My photo has been posted. Does that mean I’ve used up all my 15 minutes allocation of fame?

  38. At 03:26 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Hey Sparkles! I can multi-task! I can work and moon at the same time - whadya think I'm doing now? (Actually, um, what kind of 'mooning' did you have in mind?...) ;-)

  39. At 03:55 PM on 12 Dec 2006, gossipmistress wrote:

    Tony H (32) thank you for the definition. I really don't mind being referred to as a 'girl' - whether I would or not if I was a worker in the sex trade, I can't say.

    We would use the term 'girls' at work to describe ourselves (a strongly female environment, mixture of medical and support staff) and I wouldn't mind if our (male) boss used it. I don't find it belittling or derogatory and I don't imagine it as a word which refers only to children.

    Do the NUJ guidelines quoted in the above thread please adhere to NUJ guidelines and refrain from referring to women who work as prostitutes as "girls" apply to other groups of women as well as prostitutes? And if not, why are they singled out?

  40. At 04:05 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Aperitif, the kind we used to do as young girls, no NOT the other kind which is the kind young boys do at the back of the coach on the school trip!

  41. At 05:20 PM on 12 Dec 2006, madmary wrote:

    Helen the volunteer, of course I am green with envy!!

    Helen S you might be right, I might not have been all that useful, even though I can upload and dowload with the best of them.

    Oh No! My vigil is going to have to start all over again. Aperitif how many candles do we have?

    Re the "girls" remarks, whilst I understand why there was a complaint there are in fact many "girls" in the sense of people I would consider children working in the sex industry. Just worth noting that that is another vulnerability aspect.

    Mary (even more broken hearted)

  42. At 06:11 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Feather Footed wrote:

    Helen the V (31) What a great idea - I can't wait to see my pic up there with all those other screens and cats! Just a small comment - Firefox doesn't display the alt tag, you need to put it in a title tag as well. cheekyDon't know if you would have time to do that as well... ? /cheeky

    Or I may be completely wrong.

    Feather Footed

  43. At 07:17 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    madmary, how right you are; girls, trafficked girls, really powerless girls. I wonder why someone wouldn't mind if they were having sex with someone that vulnerable, I guess I know the answer really, but so much damage being done.

  44. At 07:38 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Firefox will display the 'alt' if you
    go to

    for the 'add-on'

    well worth it, and I've had no problems.

  45. At 07:57 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Peter Wharton wrote:

    Thought for the Day - Drunk as a Lord - It is what I do.
    Sorry for the delay, but this came to me when I was at a Russian/Sicilian cocktail party!

  46. At 08:15 PM on 12 Dec 2006, madmary wrote:

    A listener complained to the BBC that I was rude to David Cameron. Apparently I tried to "trip him up with trivial questions and make things awkward for him. We should be treating guests with respect."

    With the utmost respect to you Eddie, I don't think you (or anyone else) would need to try to hard to make things awkward for him. You are always respectful to your guests. If they talk rubbish then that's their problem.

    As for the Bishop of wherever, the mystery deepens. So the Bishop in an effort to divert attention from his own rather curious situation purported to be another Bishop. I wonder if he fooled anyone. That was a good disguise wasn't it?


  47. At 08:32 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Aunt Dahlia wrote:

    Vodka and orange juice?

  48. At 08:56 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Peter (45) pray tell what that kind of a cocktail party entails, I have visions of a very peculiar kind of beverage!

  49. At 10:42 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Aunt D, were you offering those around or responding to something?

  50. At 10:54 PM on 12 Dec 2006, valery p (Tumbleflump Holly-Hippoface) wrote:

    Yes please

  51. At 11:02 PM on 12 Dec 2006, valery p (Tumbleflump Holly-Hippoface) wrote:

    Actually, Aunt D, I think that would have to be Russian/Sevillian wouldn't it, or would that be vodka and marmalade. Do you get oranges from Sicily?

  52. At 11:30 PM on 12 Dec 2006, Frances O wrote:

    I'm very fond of water voles.

    As for Helen, she's a heroine and the brain that launches a thousand pics. (I'm guessing - but, hey! she sounds like that).

    Tsk for not being properly respectful to Dave Webcam. Keep it up.

    As for the prostitute 'girls' - yes, they're women; but one of today's papers referred to them as 'vice girls' in a headline. Pathetic.

    IHMO, of course.

    Night night

  53. At 07:16 AM on 13 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    Valerie P & Aunt D, the only thing I know about coming from Sicily is the Mafia & olive oil, neither of which you would want in a drink!

  54. At 09:54 AM on 13 Dec 2006, madmary wrote:

    Helen S you get olive oil from olives, which you might want in a drink!


  55. At 11:25 AM on 13 Dec 2006, Aunt Dahlia wrote:

    Honestly, you grils! The only time I went to Siciliy I was marooned for days in a villa surrounded by orange trees. So there. Harrrumph....

  56. At 05:18 PM on 13 Dec 2006, valery p (Tumbleflump Holly-Hippoface) wrote:

    oops, well that's my gas at a peep then, as we say up here...

  57. At 06:03 PM on 13 Dec 2006, RobbieJohnDo wrote:

    Valer P

    What? Sorry, I mean pardon?

    Gas at a peep! - explain please.

  58. At 08:07 PM on 13 Dec 2006, Helen Sparkles wrote:

    mary, I feel a lovely vodka martini coming up then, sufficiently Russian/Sicilian methinks!

  59. At 09:55 PM on 13 Dec 2006, valery p (Tumbleflump Holly-Hippoface) wrote:

    "gas at a peep" RJD - well, just one of the many things my gran used to say, I always took it to mean that the person involved, being a bit too full of self, had been brought back down to size, or smaller!

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