Looking back, you must wonder why it is that your public image is one of aggression, cantankerousness and even rudeness, when those who know you recognise that on the contrary, you are one of the most civilised, humorous and agreeable of companions.
The truth is that we remember the sparks, but not the glowing embers. I recall the three-man interview with Harold Wilson when he was Prime Minister, where the highlight was your quarrel with your fellow interviewer, James Mossman, whom you brusquely overruled as chairman when he wished to continue a good line of questioning. We all recall the time when John Nott, then Defence Secretary, walked out of your interview after you called him a 'here-today, gone-tomorrow politician'.
Your relations with your fellow broadcasters were not always good. Do you remember the episode at one Liberal Party conference, when after some crisis or other I said I would give only two interviews, one for the BBC and one for ITV. When I arrived at the studio, producers were flapping about. You were seated firmly in the interviewer's chair, pretending not to notice anything untoward, while a raging John Cole - who was, after all, the BBC's political editor - was arguing with both my press officer and your producer that he should do the interview or have a second one. I took the line that Day and Cole should sort this out because there would be only one interview. You refused to budge or negotiate. We did a bad-tempered interview, and then I was forced to relent and do a second one for John.
In your book you recall accurately how your joint interview with myself and David Owen in the middle of the 1987 election campaign started the division between us from which our campaign never fully recovered. You don't recall how it was on an earlier Question Time under your chairmanship that we first had a political discussion on future co-operation. So you were both unwitting creator and destroyer.
Looking back to when you were a Liberal candidate in the 1959 election, do you ever ponder how different life could have been? You described the Liberal Party organisation then as 'a shambles, with more than its fair share of eccentrics, crackpots and nutcases'. You never did mince your words, did you?
Had you become a Liberal MP, dare I suggest that the world of broadcasting, of entertainment and, in all seriousness, of politics, would have been the poorer. It is time you were asked to do a series of retrospective interviews before you go gaga.
Meanwhile, happy birthday,
Yours ever,Reuse content