As usual I’ve been slow on the uptake with celebrity news.
Danny Baker has cancer. And I find myself caring quite a lot.
I met him a long time ago, and only briefly.
But he made a lasting impression on me.
He had been the compère at a Bass Brewers conference in Birmingham.
A low effort, easy money gig compared to his day job.
A few gags between the business sessions.
A couple of knowing, mildly cutting, but carefully scripted remarks at the expense of the top brass to get the sales guys laughing.
Hosting an interview with the chief exec, both sitting on sofas on stage.
I’ve seen celebrities do this kind of corporate job dozens of times.
Conferences, awards dinners, product launches.
Their public profile earns them the right to cash in at events like this.
The result is usually polished, professional and platitudinous.
The celeb in question does the minimum possible and then buggers off.
And that was what I was expecting Danny Baker to do.
But he didn’t.
He did the maximum possible.
The mists of time might be causing me too exaggerate a little, but my memory is of him being amongst the last to leave in the wee small hours of the morning.
He definitely stuck around much longer than I suspect he was contracted to do.
And he was enjoying himself.
He talked to everybody and anybody about anything.
And he spent at least as much time listening as he did talking.
He was genuinely interested in people, their lives and their stories.
And ever since I’ve seen, or rather heard, him carry that interest with him onto the airwaves of Radio 5 Live.
First with the 606 football phone in and latterly with his Saturday morning show.
He gives great radio because he has great humanity. He is enthusiastic. He doesn’t put on any kind of act. And he uses the English language like a musical instrument.
I wish him a speedy and complete recovery.