I feel as if I have known Joan Bakewell for half a century or so. That is to say that when I was a little under 13 years old, I used occasionally to sneak watching her on the telly – talking about culture on Late Night Line-Up. She then seemed to me to be awesomely smart and impossibly glamorous.
Aged 12 or so, I would not have believed that I would later get to know this goddess. But indeed I did. That was mostly when she did a stint in the 1980s as one of Newnham’s external fellows, at a time of one of the most intensive bits of college politics (namely when we were discussing whether to ‘go mixed’ – and I don’t think it is breaking any confidences to say that we were on the same side.
Even more I would not have believed what happened on Wednesday, when I had the fun of presenting her with the Sandford St Martin Trust ‘Trustees Award‘. The Trust has a wide remit, but each year it gives prizes to excellent programmes on tv and radio on religion and ethics – and to people who have made an especially significant contribution.
I had been booked to give Joan her prize. We made a good pairing I think. We’re both committed to giving ethics a good airing, but aren’t exactly paid up faith members.