I know it is an article of faith for us centenarians that the world and everything in it is disappearing up its own arse, but I do now think I have what will pass for conclusive proof.
For many years now, our British television and radio news programmes have not only broadcast reports live from abroad, but have taken to actually presenting their shows from abroad. So there is one ‘anchor’ in the London studio and another presenting live from wherever the major news event has taken place. What the anchor presenting live from abroad can add to the programme from doing so tens of thousands miles away is not at all clear and your guess is as good as mine. He or she can’t actually go out and do some live reporting as he or she has to stay in the studio to present. And, anyway, there are plenty of other broadcast hacks who can go out and report live. Nor is there much to be gained from interviewing in situ, as it were, those figures of authority who can add a useful two ha’porth and clarify what is going on. For if the presenter weren’t abroad but at home in London, he or she would simply conduct the interview over an international link. (I don’t know what the technical term is and, to be honest, I can’t be arsed finding out. Sorry.)
Ah, I hear you all cry, but your just an old fart who refuses to move with the times. Having one anchor at home and another abroad makes the programme – well, I’ll guess: more relevant? More immediate? More vital? Which? I can’t deny that it does add a certain pizzazz to proceedings and imbue whatever programme it is with a spurious gravitas – I stress spurious – but if we are at all honest, we would be bound to admit that it adds nothing except cost. These chaps aren’t flying easyjet, don’t you know. No, sir.
But, well, you know, modern times and all that, so perhaps I am being a bit of an ageing moaning minny by pointing out how exceptionally bloody futile it all is, despite the added sheen of showing off what technology can now do. But now I can demonstrate exactly how bloody daft the practice is.
I usually listen to Radio 4’s Today in the morning and rather like it. But it, too, is addicted to showing off with one presenter in London and another, as the news agenda might dictate, presenting from Tel Aviv or Washington or Moscow or somewhere. And what with the horrible disaster in Japan, Today – naturally – had to get one of its presenters over there. James Naughtie was the lucky hack, so this morning it was Sarah ‘Jolly Hockeystick’ Montague in London and James Naughtie in Sendai. (‘Naughtie’, by the way, dear foreign reader, is pronounced ‘Nochty’ as it is Scottish. They do that kind of thing. ‘Menzies’, for example, is pronounced ‘Mingis’. Naughtie’s mugshot is on the left.) And who did Jimbo interview live from Sendai? Only the bloody Japanese ambassador to Britain who was not in Sendai, but in London. If anyone reading this can point out to me why sending a hack to the other side of the world to interview someone back home, I shall be very grateful. But I shan’t be holding my breath in anticipation.
Now I must have a large sherry and go and lie down.
. . .
I heard a good joke the other day, which I should like to share with you.
It seems one of the professional hazards of earning your living as a racing jockey is piles. All that bouncing up and down in the saddle at the 2.30 at Wincanton plays havoc with your arse, so British jockeys have for many years resorted to a traditional and effective remedy. Every morning after they have done the stablework, they take a bath or shower and then rub used tealeaves over their bottoms, inside and out. It seems that something in the caffeine in tea has a soothing effect and tends to solve the problem. But not always. And it seems one stable’s champion jockey was finding no respite at all and with his piles getting worse and worse, his performance on the racetrack was suffering. So his trainer decided to pay for him privately to see a specialist.
Off the jocky went one afternoon for his appointment. He explained to the eminent man what the problem was and he was told to drop his trousers and bend over so the specialist could take a look. After a few minutes, the specialist says:
‘Well, that’s interesting.’
‘Can you sort it out?’ the jockey asks.
‘Yes, of course I can,’ says the doctor, ‘but I should tell you that you are going to go on a long journey and will meet a tall, dark stranger.’