She’s got big hands, bloody big feet and a great big voice. "Hurry up," she yells, "I’m freezing me tits off."
Janet Street Porter is sitting with her Olive Oyl legs dangling over the triangulation point on the top of Edinburgh’s Blackford Hill. She’s not being rude, unkind or unpleasant, she just’s being, well, Janet Street Porter. Sort of stentorian.
Behind her, a huge panorama stretches away to Edinburgh Castle, Inchcolm and beyond to Fife, half of Scotland united in the sweep of an eye. But around her, opinion has quickly divided into love and hate, high on this hill. The photographer - the object of the tits remark - is in the former camp, he’s lapping it up; in the latter, the birds have stopped singing.
They are not alone. Wrapped in their raincoats and cowering under flat hats, the Calvinist residents of Edinburgh’s villa quarters linger warily below the summit, their morning constitutionals on hold. Even their mutts know instinctively to avoid this woman. The bravest scamper up, slobbering, but quickly retire with a whimper. "I hate dogs," Street Porter calls after a Labrador as it dives down the slope to its owner, both of them now sharing a gloomy kind of look.
That's the opening to a jolly interview I had with the journalist and British TV personality Janet Street Porter four years ago when she came to the Edinburgh festival. I had to write it fast because as soon as we came off the hill, I was right on deadline, so I hammed up the incident with the dog a bit, in the interests of speedily-achieved comic effect. Strangely enough, Street Porter repeated the insignificant dog incident in an article she later wrote for the New Statesman.
You can read my Scotsman interview and Street Porter's New Statesman column if you click on the links below.
Her and her big mouth
New Statesman Diary