‘President Trump comes at the job like a man flogging dodgy treadmills’
“It stops when you stop,” he enthused, “so no danger of you setting it too fast and flying off and no worries about high energy bills.”
I realised, reading between the lines, this miracle piece of kit was two rollers with a bit of rubber over them.
It was mechanical, not electrical, but the person selling it was masterful in presenting that obvious flaw as a plus.
Before watching Inside the American Embassy (C4), I’d learnt that top diplomatic roles are often given to people outside diplomatic circles.
In the form of Robert Wood Johnson, 66th US Ambassador to Britain, I discovered why.
Owner of the New York Jets, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune and a personal friend of President Trump, “Woody” comes at the job like a man flogging dodgy treadmills and maybe that’s what’s required.
“He’s very masterful in his ability to get his message across,” he said at one point, in the midst of his boss firing off barking tweets in an atmosphere of heightened political tensions.
What a wonderful way to describe him, I thought.
What a wonderful way to describe a hammer or a nuclear missile, too.
However much sales flair the Ambassador displayed, you wondered as the camera crew followed him through those turbulent early months how much he was really enjoying the role.
Prior to a vital Radio 4 interview his advisers put him through a “murder board”, a practice session of hostile questioning.
He seemed unhappy having to bother with the fine details of Donald Trump’s alleged “dry mouth”, or the right words to use when mentioning Jerusalem.
He quickly got ratty with his team, not least because they had all the right answers in a booklet they hadn’t given him, and you couldn’t really blame the bloke.
There was such a difference, too, when he flew home for the State of the Union address and wandered the corridors of the State Department (the US foreign office) meeting new team members.
His face lit up when he met a burly lad who’d come from the higher rungs of Coca-Cola.
“I love Coke. It’s a great company!” Woody trilled. He’d probably have preferred to stay there all day, swapping war stories.
“The battle for life took centre stage in Nature’s Turtle Nursery: INSIDE the Nest (BBC4).
Filmed on one beach in Costa Rica, this documentary captured extraordinary footage of olive ridley turtles teeming on the sands in monthly, mass egg-laying gatherings.
Many mysteries linger over these “arribadas”, at which up to half a million turtles can lay tens of millions of eggs.
It’s a numbers game, so scientists originally thought, the sheer quantity of eggs meaning that the odd few might survive.
The more they delved into the science, from the temperatures required to create a balanced population to the toxic environment caused by millions of rotting eggs, it didn’t seem to make evolutionary sense.
New research was also revealing just how sophisticated they were, with baby turtles cheeping at each other from inside their eggs, in order to coordinate a mass breakout.
As always when a species is failing, the finger doesn’t point at evolutionary flaws.
It points at us.