Sunday, November 12, 2006

How to survive the Today programme’s nihilism and the Independent’s gloom and glaring inconsistencies

I’ve been shouting at the wireless again. My wife tells me I should imagine it was an overheard conversation in a restaurant and blot it out. But, if Humprys were siting at a nearby table, I wouldn’t be able to resist thumping him. Not fisticuffs you’ll realise but verbal, or more likely, visual lashing. The hard stare - lethal at five hundred paces.

For more than a quarter of a century our alarm has been awakening us to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. Why it still is can be explained by inertia and the even-more-awfulness of the alternatives. It’s common for middle-aged and elderly folk to complain that things aren’t what they used to be. Although the moaner will rarely admit it, usually they’re Far Better. However Today is Quite A Bit Worse than it was.

Its heyday was the Brian Redhead / John Timpson era. They were tenacious interviewers, especially Redhead, but both had a twinkle in their dispositions. The sort of twinkle that John Sergeant exudes. Because he’s on the telly you can see as well as hear his. Radio folk must project it through their voice and demeanour. Much of it is to do with not taking oneself too seriously.

Yesterday John Humprys was going through his usual routine. He was herumphing about how little HMG has committed to the safe-sex campaign. Trouble is we all know that he would have been doing the reverse herumphing had a lot been spent on it. It’s just too easy being him.

And the Independent! Why do I still buy it every Saturday? Doom-mongering is its stock in trade, often about the environment. But its inside pages are filled with exotic holidays in far-away places and unnecessary gadgets designed primarily it seems to consume energy in their production, use or both.

I buy it for its writers. Howard Jacobson ,for example, who was on fine form yesterday. Under the title "Tony Blair can't help but look both ways in the matter of Saddam Hussein's execution" he urged us to "grant him, if nothing else, the privilege of ambivalence".

But ambivalence is a luxury apparently not permitted to politicians if you’re the editor of Independent or the Today programme...


At 18:33, Anonymous traffic.One said...

"Although the moaner will rarely admit it, usually they’re Far Better"

i agree.

At 14:14, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Good - but, with so much of the meeja apparently paid to make us feel glum, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that not everyone else agrees...

At 18:09, Blogger snowflake5 said...

Good article. It's time they pensioned off Humphreys

At 12:42, Blogger Hughes Views said...

Thanks Snowflake - he is well past his best before date I think!


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