The 5-Minute Interview: Christopher Meyer, Chair, Press Complaints Commisssion

'I'm not patrician, I'm like a loaf of brown bread'
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The Independent Online

The former British ambassador to the United States was criticised by the Government for an "unacceptable" breach of trust in 2005 after releasing his controversial memoirs, 'DC Confidential', a depiction of the run-up to the Iraq war from inside the Washington embassy. He was made chair of the PCC in 2003

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be...

Adjusting my tights. I've had my varicose veins taken out. The pain is a cross between being sore and itchy so when you scratch the inner thigh it produces the most exquisite pain.

A phrase I use far too often is...

"A tad". I am very much influenced by American phrases. Sometimes I even say to my kids: "What is it about 'no' that you don't understand". It's a tic. It's got to be got rid of.

I wish people would take more notice of...

Rubbish in the streets. When I go to Paris, which I do quite often, they have these large transparent plastic bags for rubbish. In central London it's almost impossible to find rubbish bins.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was...

When whitewater rafting on the Colorado river we came to one of the biggest rapids I'd ever seen and I fell overboard. I thought I was going to drown. I couldn't breathe. I thought "I'm dying". Suddenly my head popped out of the water and I still had my sunglasses and hat on. The other thing that surprised me is that the book I published sold copies.

A common misperception of me is...

That I am patrician. I'm not at all. I'm more like a loaf of brown bread.

I am not a politician but...

If I was I would abolish Heathrow airport. The greatest post-war planning folly was to place Heathrow west of the capital. Why? Because our prevailing wind is from the west. A really bold government would say, "shove all this" and build a super-dooper airport to the east of the capital. One of these days an airliner is going to crash in central London.

I'm good at...

Making Americans laugh. When I was ambassador I would make speeches full of ghastly jokes and they seemed to laugh genuinely uproariously.

I'm very bad at...

Dancing. I have no sense of rhythm. It's pathetic.

The ideal night out is...

To go to France with my wife Catherine - we have a little flat in a town up in the French Alps - and to drive up into the mountains to a little restaurant called Le Refuge.

In moments of weakness I...

I go to the loo and think. It passes quite quickly.

You know me as a former ambassador but in truer life I'd have been...

I could have been huge in fruit and veg. I could be living in a fine Sicilian house, sipping an aperitif on the veranda and looking out at my acres of olive groves having built up a huge fruit and veg empire. I was offered the job when I was in my 20s by a fruit and veg importers in Covent Garden with a business in Sicily.

The best age to be is...

Now, now, now.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

I really live for the present. I like to extract the maximum enjoyment and pleasure out of it.

Sara Newman

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