Embarassing Evan

This morning I was lying in bed, in that wonderful state between sleep and full awakeness and had Radio 4’s ‘Today programme’ yelling at me gently in the background. Then, suddenly:

Evan Davis interviews Shakira.

Pardon me? On the today programme? At 7:23 am?

What followed were the most cringeworthy 3 minutes in recent BBC history. I have no idea whether the chap actually did any preparation for the interview at all (or what a pop starlet has to do in the most important News programme of the nation) but after 3 minutes I was wide awake and seriously thinking of switching to Wogan.

But the Wog won’t be there much longer either, so maybe I’d rather listen to a recorded version of Radio New Zealands Morning Report.

Dear Radio 4.

I really, really like you. You are one of the few reasons I am living in this country.

But if you ever let Evan Davis with a microphone near a pop star, I’ll leave.

Sincerely, FB

What is Britishness?

This morning Radio 4 ran an item on ‘Britishness’. It is apparently a topic close to Gordon Brown’s heart.  As far as I understood the context, the idea was to find some unifying – if at all possible gallant and proud – traditions, habits or (the rather elusive) spirit of the British Isles.

I have been working in Scotland, Wales and England (I am way to chicken to put a foot into Northern Ireland), but as far as I can tell, there are few unifying things. What unites them all is a penchant for binge drinking and gratuitous violence on the weekend, but apart from that there’s few things I can think off. The Scots and the Welsh are united in the animosity against the English, the English look down on the Scots and Welsh, everybody’s wary of  Northern Ireland and none of them are particularly good at football but very keen for international glory (the big premiership teams can hardly be called English, as they are all coached by foreigners {sorry, Sir Alex} and there are hardly any English players present).

So, is Britishness a sense of mutual loathing, debauchery on the weekend and never winning anything with their respective national teams? There must be something more to it. I actually quite like their ability to incorporate vast amounts of immigrants from around the world and get them to integrate – kicking and screaming -into British life.  Of course there is mighty grumbling on both sides at times, but who else but the British would cope with a sudden influx of 1.000.000 Polish economic migrants within 2 or 3 years (actually, this was probably the best thing that happened to the British economy for years: sudden influx of a  bunch of highly skilled, motivated, multilingual, hard working individuals freshening up the gene pool). With me being of the German persuasion I had my fair share of  ‘don’t mention the war’ and soccer/war puns directed at me, for some reason this has been getting less, mainly due to the hundreds of thousands of happy british fans after the last world cup.

Another thing the British excel at is Public Broadcasting: The BBC (and CHannel 4) are peerless in the world and I can only wonder in horror about the state of national values and education if there wouldn’t be a regular steady drip of sensibility from Auntie into the British soul.

Then there is the link to tradition, the sometimes daring architecture, amazing music, lovely outdoors.

So, is there something that unites those lovely habitants of this small island?

Nope. There isn’t. I think the inhabitants of this country are far to diverse to be defined by just 3 or 4 meaningless attitudes, and that’s agood thing.

Let diversity be Britishness, and let it bloom.

Car sales slump in the UK. Hurray!

Today The Times reports that car sales have been falling by 21% last month, with makers of luxury brands being hit the worst. Am I the only one who is jumping up and down with joy upon this lovely bit of news? Living in the South-East of Britain, I am surrounded by enormous SUV everywhere I go, and the sheer number of cars that are making life miserable in the area is mindboggling. According to You and Yours, that terribly boring consumer affairs magazine on Radio 4, the only cars that are still being sold quite steadily are the small, economic, ecological friendly vehicles a la Citroen 1, Yaris, etc.

I dream of the days when the roads are devoid of Range Rovers, Cayennes, RaVs and other enormous SUVs (that mostly seem to transport one female driver and maybe an additional child) and the roads around where I live and work are quieter, cleaner and safer to bike and walk on. It would be a boon to society, the environment and would improve quality of life immensely.

So, go on and buy a used Smart when you have to acquire your next car. You know it makes sense.

The ‘Happy Monday’ Special on Radio 4. An hour I’ll never get back.

I have just been through the worst hour of ‘comedy’ that I ever had to endure on Radio4. Normally, with BBC Radio’s flagship station, you can be sure that you will be treated to brillant writing, intellectual sparkle and diaphragm shaking jokes, so the 60 minutes I just to endure where even more disappointing. In front of a live audience, whipped into an artificial frenzy by hyperactive but unfunny host Michael McIntyre, a series of comedians (what was poor John Culshaw doing there? And when did Stephen K. Amos lose his mojo?) were allowed 5 minute stints, interrupted by songs by ‘The Feelings’, ending with an embarassaging ‘pubquiz‘. Nevertheless Kudos to newcomer Ed Aczel:  Tellingly, this newcomer was by far the most interesting and funniest of the lot.

One can only hope that the shows this ‘special’ was supposed to advertise are better than this forgetful hour.

Disappointing, to say the least.