2 August 2010
I've taken to listening to Radio 4 in the car lately, despite non-ownership of any silk cravats. For the most part, I like what I hear. I've got into The Last Word and Face The Facts quite well, for example.
Feedback is particularly fun, as it brings out all of those crusty walking stick wielders of society who feel the urge to complain if something on their precious radio station is not directly interesting to them and their highly specific demographic.
Recently, there was a series on London and its history. As a northerner, my view on London is that it's picturesque and exciting but also untidy and ludicrously expensive. I'd love to work there but wouldn't like to live there. And while I have previously aired concerns that Londoncentricity is too prevalent in our media (ie, the need for Radio 1's listening figures to be compared to Capital Radio's every time RAJAR figures are released, or for life-stopping snowfalls only to be deemed newsworthy when in London) I also understand that the place is pretty important. And interesting.
But when this series on London's history was aired on Radio 4, the reaction from everywhere else was tantamount to the reaction you'd get if you'd just placed a freshly-coiled turd into their fridge. But, in the interests of balance (and the dreaded compliance), Feedback felt obliged to air all these mad, myopic views on how "because I'm a Mackem I have no interest in London" and then force the editor of the programme to explain himself.
You complain if you are offended, not if you feel a bit left out. When that emotion comes up, you switch off your radio and try conversing with a fellow human being instead. Just how deeply arrogant must you be to declare your disapproval just because something dare not relate to you?
Feedback last week forced itself to question the deputy editor of the Today programme, at length and with the aggression of a leading advocate at a war crimes tribunal, after some barking woman moaned that the weather forecast had been sacrificed at one crucial point of the programme (ie, when she was about to switch off and leave the house) because an interview had overrun.
It made for remarkable listening. The interviewee must have had a thousand better things to do with his time than answer tiresome questions about whether information about a mild shower was as vital as this insane woman had claimed, but gamely and patiently answered all the questions. The producers of Feedback must kill themselves laughing with the complaints they get, knowing that they will have to make radio of their own that dulls the soul of anyone with an open mind but satisfies a tiny minority of lifeless ignorami who have nothing better to do with their lives.
It's frighteningly British, all told. And it's fun, without even for a moment being useful.