Telling It Like It Is
Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beeeep.
It’s ten o’clock here on BBC Radio 4. Well, it’s ten o’clock everywhere else in the UK too, so why we inform you several times a day that we’re in line with the rest of the country, I don’t know. Maybe it’s an attempt to boost the popularity of our station. Whatever the reason, this is the news, read by me, Ronald Futterworth. And here’s another thing. It’s a mystery to me why our masters at the Beeb insist that we newsreaders tell you who we are. I mean, you don’t really care, do you? You know that we’re merely announcers, continuity people, humble hod-carriers on the great building site of life. We just do as we’re told and take our pay. Anyway, here we go:
There was violence in the Middle East today. What a surprise. I can hardly remember the last time there wasn’t some mayhem going on in that part of the world. Bombings, shootings, rockets. They don’t learn, do they? However, we Europeans are hardly in a position to look down our noses at anybody, right? In the last century we caused the two greatest wars of all time, so we’d be best advised to refrain from lecturing other people about their shenanigans.
The House of Commons was even more raucous than usual today. Insofar as it was possible to understand anything amid the bawling, the main subject was our economy. The government claims to be steering us into sunlit uplands, while the opposition says we’re so deep in the mire that we’ll never get out of it without a change of administration. If I may paraphrase a comment made long ago, the more one listens to politicians, the more one feels that each party is worse than all the others. If you want my opinion, we’ll never extricate ourselves from this mess, no matter who holds the reins. The slanging match was largely devoted to how much red ink we’ve accrued. Well, I can tell you that. Think of our national debt as Mount Everest and consider that we’re adding a Matterhorn-sized chunk to it every year. We’re a nation of credit junkies. It makes me sick.
Now to business news. It seems that another of our most prestigious companies is about to be gobbled up by some slavering foreign predator in another hostile takeover. So, we appear to be selling off a bit more of the family silver, eh? It’s amazing that we have any left. If there’s much more of this, we shan’t own the clothes we stand up in. It’s a tragedy if you ask me – but you won’t, will you? And why should you? After all, I’m a non-entity. I . . . oh, there goes my mobile phone. Back with you in a jiffy. . . Here I am again. Sorry about that. I swear I’ll deposit this wretched instrument in the Thames one of these days. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, I understand that the boss of the firm that’s about to disappear will pocket a barrowful of loot as compensation for his skill in running the concern into the ground before it’s peddled off. He did the same with his previous company. What a character! He’s a self-made man who worships his creator.
The main UK stock market went up quite a bit today. As a casino, it puts anything in Las Vegas into the shade, doesn’t it? And don’t get me going about the currency exchange thing. That’s even worse. Most of the wheeler-dealing in that field has nothing to do with genuine demand for foreign money. Talk about snouts in the trough – and they’re all as bent as hairpins. But enough of that.
I suppose you’d like to hear something about sport. First, football. What a farce that is. A bunch of overpaid louts kicking and biting each other and spitting all over the pitches. It’s disgusting. Well, there are no UK teams left in any competition of significance, so I won’t dwell on that activity. For the fancypants types among you there’s a big tennis tournament going on. I forget where it’s taking place but here again, all our people have been knocked out, so let’s not detain ourselves with that. There’s also a cricket test match in progress. I’ve mislaid the score, but never mind. I mean, you’d hardly call that a sport, would you? I see it more as a mildly competitive ballet, in which the participants find any excuse they can to waste time and do as little as they can get away with.
Now, since this is what is often called the silly season, we at Broadcasting House usually sign off with some trivial filler. We drop that when there’s anything interesting going on, especially something nasty. It would be exciting to finish by reporting one or two juicy disasters, but having scoured the world for such items, we’ve drawn a blank, so I’ll end with one of those daft things about a fire brigade rescuing a cat from a tree, this time in the Midlands. Sadly, our army of reporters can’t come up with anything better. Ah, well, that’s my lot for today, and a good thing too. To be frank with you, I’ve been reading out all kinds of twaddle here with a sober voice and a straight face for over fifteen years and there’s a limit to what a chap will tolerate. I can’t take any more, do you hear? I’ve had enough, enough –
“This is the producer of Radio 4 news broadcasting. Please accept my apologies for what you have just heard. I’m afraid Mr Futterworth is unwell. The next full, authentic news bulletin will be read at midnight by another member of our staff.”
Off microphone: “Hey, you in the white coats. Get that man out of here.”
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