“Those were my pals.” Listening to Henry Allingham, the boy who saw the Somme from the air in 1917

Watching the movie 1917 reminded me of meeting Henry Allingham. He saw WG Grace bat. He saw the battle of the Somme from the air in an aircraft made of wood, cloth and wire. He was the oldest man in the country when I met him in 2007 and he lived to be the oldest man in the world, dying just over a year later at 113.

“When they talk about the war, will they remember me?” A last interview with the remarkable Dame Vera Lynn

Six years ago I went to the home of Dame Vera Lynn and listened to her sing along to recordings of her younger self. As far as I know, this was the last in-depth interview about her life that she ever gave. Softly, with a voice that is still clear after all these years, DameContinue reading ““When they talk about the war, will they remember me?” A last interview with the remarkable Dame Vera Lynn”

Interviewing Michael Crawford, getting a bit weepy together for the love of our Nans

A long time ago – well, 1982, to be precise – I got on a number 38 bus from the Bakers Arms in Leyton with Gladys, my Nan. One of those women of a particular generation who had grown up in the East End listening to the cut-glass accents of the announcers on the BBC.Continue reading “Interviewing Michael Crawford, getting a bit weepy together for the love of our Nans”

Stop reading Shakespeare right now! Sir Ian McKellen says so!

Nobody knows William Shakespeare better than Sir Ian McKellen. The veteran actor has played all the leading roles, from Romeo and Hamlet to Macbeth and King Lear – so it is a shock to hear him declare that the way the plays are taught in many schools is wrong – and most of us shouldContinue reading “Stop reading Shakespeare right now! Sir Ian McKellen says so!”

Okay Dave, now where’s the rest? Asking David Cameron about his money

When I interviewed David Cameron just before the election in 2010, there was one question that nobody else had asked him, because it was a bit unorthodox. It also seemed to me to be self evident. He was clearly a very rich man who stood to inherit a great deal more, but he was alsoContinue reading “Okay Dave, now where’s the rest? Asking David Cameron about his money”