The Grown-Up Test: Jennie Bond

Joy Persaud / 21 September 2018

The journalist, presenter and former BBC royal correspondent is 68. But how old is she in her head? Joy Persaud finds out...

Did you have a childhood pet?

We had a budgerigar called Jimmy and then a crazy beagle hound, who was very naughty and was always running away and coming back with this bloated stomach. He’d roll over and fart all day.

Is there an object you’ve kept from childhood?

I have this wonderful old, battered, torn version of When We Were Very Young by AA Milne, full of poems from my childhood. I could still read it with great pleasure.

What did your parents teach you?

My father taught me to look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. From both my parents I learned kindness: be kind. I am not saying I always am but I try to be, as I find you get doubly repaid.

What was your first car?

It was a grey Wolseley – I paid £50 towards the total cost, which was probably £150. My father paid the rest. I drove to the south of France because I lived down there for a year, when I did a French degree.

How often do you check email?

Oh, far too often. Probably every 15 minutes if I am around the house, but I am capable of going out and not looking at them for some hours. If I am anywhere near reception, however, I will be checking it, I’m afraid.

Your biggest fashion mistake?

I was once in a magazine feature – ‘Good people who wear bad things’ – for appearing in public in the most glorious cloak with great big sleeves that hung down. It was a serious piece of kit and I wore it to something like the television awards. Maybe I did look like an old witch, I don’t know.

What’s the silliest thing you have done recently?

Some lovely friends came round and we sat overlooking the sea and drank too much of my husband’s latest concoction which is a Spanish liqueur, pacharán, mixed with vintage cava. It appears to be lethal. 

Did you have a nickname at school and do you still have it?

My name was enough to cause a great deal of interest at school. The name Bond – J Bond – because James Bond was absolutely the rage all through my life, really.   

Train or car?

I quite like driving. I have learned to calm myself when you’re in the middle of traffic jams which are inevitable. I wish I could go by train more but frankly the train network is so awful and I have to drive three-quarters of an hour to get on the train so I may as well just keep going, frankly.

What did turning 60 mean for you?

Disbelief. You read stories in papers about an ‘elderly woman was injured’, or something a pensioner did and you suddenly think, ‘Oh my God, they are even younger than me’. Next year, my husband is going to be 80 and he is PFO – proper f****** old. But I have that comfort in my skin that comes with being older, so I don’t feel all uncertain and nervous.

Would you rather have your youth back or keep what you have now?

My initial reaction is: yes, I would like my youth back. Various things go wrong as you get older and there was the social embarrassment of gradually realising you can’t quite hear. Most people think that wearing a hearing aid is a public display of age and it’s absolutely not. I can’t see when my husband is wearing his hearing aids, but I can certainly tell because he is far less isolated in social groups now.

Jennie is an ambassador for The National Campaign for Better Hearing, supported by Hidden Hearing. For more info and to book a free hearing test, call 0800 037 2060 or visit

How do you relax?

With wine and friends and giggling. I think friendship is terrifically important and I enjoy a glass of Sauvignon blanc. When I say a glass, I mean several.

Which decade are you most nostalgic for?

I loved the 1960s – that was when I left my convent school, where I was a terribly diligent pupil, and went to a wild university in Warwick where Germaine Greer was one of my tutors.

Could you run a mile?

Yes. I always looked at people pounding the tarmac and thought, ‘Why do you do that?’ But to my amazement I did a 10k and did continue running. Although I’m not entirely convinced it’s compatible with knees and joints as you get older and I think a vigorous walk is probably better physically.

Is your glass half-full or half-empty?

Half-full, always. My husband tends to do the opposite, so I go three-quarters full. You can usually find a silver lining to something.


Jennie loves to laugh and socialise, and can easily run a mile, so we reckon this 68-year-old is a mere 50 in her head.

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