Friday, 10 February 2017

I STARTED A JOKE



Last week, planning my article about a possible “bias against understanding” in 1970s TV journalism – still much more engaging than it sounds – I did what I usually do, talking about what I had in mind with a couple of people at work. Going through the bits of information I had, I was surprised when one section, later deemed superfluous to the rest of the article, got a laugh at the end. Thinking about it afterwards, I had introduced an idea of something, presented it in the right order, and added a punchline to it.

I am not someone who thinks of themselves as someone who can tell a joke, and have never gone out of my way to write one. However, recognising a skill to be developed, here is that excised section from last week, plus two other observations from the last week.


1) When the BBC merged its News and Current Affairs departments together, Current Affairs moved out of its centre, based in another part of London. Formerly the Gaumont-British Studios, where Alfred Hitchcock made “The 39 Steps” (1935) and “The Lady Vanishes” (1938), Lime Grove was bought by the BBC in 1949. However, Lime Grove is also the name of the residential street in which the studios were based - when the BBC ran out of office space, they started buying up the terraced houses next door, meaning episodes of “Panorama” were being planned in someone’s old front room. The studios were demolished when the BBC moved out, with the rubble being used as hardcore for widening the M25 motorway – you can no longer visit it, but you may have driven over it.


2) On Monday 6th February, Bauer Media relaunched their local radio network, which includes Key 103 in Manchester and Radio City in Liverpool, with a refined station sound and playlist. However, others focussed on the style guide given to presenters, tightly restricting the subjects and time they could speak, some links needing to be signed off by their “content controller.” Bauer later issued a statement that described parts of the radio industry as having “indulged itself in hyperbole,” [http://radiotoday.co.uk/2017/02/bauer-hits-back-at-style-guide-reactions/] but it didn’t stop me from thinking they could do with hiring Siri, Cortana, Alexa or Google Assistant for their mid-morning shows. So, I wrote on Twitter: “@bauerradio How come @wave105radio, one of your stations, can do perfectly well without all these rules?” Wave 105, “The South’s Best Variety of Hits,” liked the Tweet in return – I should have asked why, but if they answered, they could become Magic 105 by the next time I tuned in.


3) So, that Donald Trump, eh? That President of the United States that needs members of his staff to clarify what he says on Twitter? When Steven Poole decodified “Trumpspeak” – all the “dishonest,” “failing,” and “bad” stuff - for the “Guardian” newspaper, [https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/07/bad-dudes-dumb-deals-trumpspeak-decoded-donald-trump-language] I realised how darkly funny this could be. George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” gave us the idea of “Newspeak” as a way of restricting the population’s ability to articulate itself, allowing the rulers to control them more easily – but what if the head of state does it to themselves first?

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