Gyles Brandreth is no stranger to dabbling.
In his time he has notched up more than 300 appearances on Countdown’s Dictionary Corner, penned a book on the marriage of the Queen and Prince Philip and served time as a Conservative MP in the Nineties.
With such an eclectic and formidable CV, you would have thought that 16-year-old Gyles would have been impressed with what his older self had packed into his 71 years on earth. Not so, says Gyles.
“If I could go back and tell my teenage self what he’s achieved as an adult I don’t think he’d be impressed at all,” he tells The Big Issue in this week’s Letter To My Younger Self. “In fact I think he’d be disappointed. I wanted to be Prime Minister. Indeed there will be people reading this who wish I was Prime Minister. Brackets; you had your chance, the people spoke – the bastards – and I moved on. No longer available. I loved being an MP, I found my five years [between 1992 and 1997] fascinating.”
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Throughout his lengthy and varied career, one thing has stood as a constant for Gyles – his love of the spoken word. And sometimes it has manifested itself in unusual ways, as he explains to The Big Issue.
He said: “The founder of my school was a man called John Badley. When I was 16 and he was 99 I used to go and play Scrabble with him. He beat me at every game. I became fascinated with words. I went on to found the National Scrabble Championships which, 50 years later, are still going on. I was for some years a director of Spear’s Games, who make Scrabble. As you see yet again, I never moved on from the person I was when I was 16.”
Read more from Gyles in this week’s Big Issue magazine, available from vendors and The Big Issue Shop now.
Images: Camera Press / Chris McAndrew