Oh happy day. Michael Palin guest editing the Today programme. Or, as he’s known in my house, lovely Michael Palin. It’s not been a vintage year for men of a certain age, what with the underage rapey unpleasantness of the 1970s being revealed in its full horror, but a dash of lovely Michael Palin on the penultimate day of 2013 is a great palate cleanser.
I’m a fan for a number of reasons. I grew up watching him amiably ambulate the globe on TV, then realised he’d been in this thing called Monty Python that my dad was rather fond of. He was boyish in Ripping Yarns and came across as a delightful human being in his diaries (the ones he published, rather than journals I broke into his house to steal). He also introduced me to Hemingway as - Philistine alert - it was his book about following in Ernie’s footsteps that made me think Papa was worth looking into.
Lovely Michael Palin is happily married to his wife (not his 32nd wife but his first) and doesn’t have to do ridiculous things to pay alimony - are you listening, Mr Cleese? He also lives very near me, so I’ve had the delight of sitting at the table next to him in a local restaurant. In fact, the first time I saw him in the flesh was on a particularly ghastly day about 10 years ago when it felt as if the world was ending. I bumped into lovely Michael Palin and he gave me a smile and raised his eyebrows in a way that made me think perhaps things would be OK after all.
Given that this time of year is full of half-days and holidays, perhaps, for 2014, we should celebrate 30 December as lovely Michael Palin day. I’m certainly in.