Radio review: Vanessa Feltz

Her way with words was wonderful to listen to as she sat in for Jeremy Vine and tried, along with sales assistants at Selfridges in Manchester, to speak Mandarin

You always get a delightfully polysyllabic mouthful with Vanessa Feltz (Radio 2) but yesterday her impressive vocabulary was hard to follow in places as she sat in for Jeremy Vine. Like members of staff at Selfridges in Manchester, Feltz was speaking Mandarin.

"I'm sure I mangled it dreadfully," she said afterwards. Chatting to a sales assistant, she pondered how Chinese shoppers respond to them "spurting out some Mandarin". Spurting and mangled: classic Feltz words. I also liked how, when given the chance to hear a native speaker translate sentences, she went for the elaborate ("I'm delighted to have made your acquaintance") or Feltz-favouring ("Say, 'You're doing a noble job of standing in for Jeremy'" ).

Every sentence has a spark about it. She ended the Mandarin item in English by saying, "I shall continue the conversation by saying 'toodlepip'," moving on to chatting about what to do if your children become goths ("My daughters look like Alice in Wonderland," said Feltz, reeling from the notion) and her aversion to computers ("I can't log on") and the online world. "I'd be happy with the Oxford English Dictionary and a book of quotations," she said. Some listeners warmly concurred ("My last computer was an Amstrad") and Feltz summed their feelings up in an unusually short, simple sentence: "I want real life."


Elisabeth Mahoney

The GuardianTramp

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