Friday, 1 April 2016

Grieving the Beeb

I emailed one of my people at the BBC this morning to be greeted with the all-too familiar response, "I no longer work at the BBC..." This email is only slightly less prevalent these days than the one which suggests the person at the BBC is either on sabbatical or has moved positions within the institution. The other regular response from BBC personnel is the one which suggests the person you're trying to contact is on leave. I genuinely don't know how the organisation manages to keep its head above the parapet with such an astounding revolving door staffing policy. No one within the BBC ever seems to be able to have a meeting with the person that actually makes decisions, because it's the school holidays or she or he "works from home two days a week." Worse than this is the fact that people commission stuff and then move on before the project is seen through. This results in entire projects being buried, shelved or under-publicised.

The recurring message in my present LinkedIn feed is former BBC staff announcing they've moved on to pastures new. These were proper "can do" creative people whose enthusiasm was sucked out of them by years of instability, reshuffling and brutal cuts. They're now using their skills elsewhere. One is working for Avon!

It's no wonder that the BBC is presently churning out very little but "safe bet" programming.

I would once have thrown myself in front of a bus to protect the future of the BBC, but I'm just not sure the organisation is doing anything important any more. It's certainly no longer my go-to channel when I switch the telly on. The two main channels today were almost drowning in repeats and re-hashes: "The Best of Wogan" "The TV that Made Me" "Too Much TV" "The Two Ronnies" "Perry and Croft: Made in Britain" "Room 101: Extra Storage". Even "Flog It" was showing a "best of the series" show. There's a limit to how often you can watch the BBC patting itself on the back and shrieking "look how amazing we used to be" whilst single-handedly refusing to be amazing in the present day. They repeat episodes of Top of the Pops on an almost loop (well the one which aren't presented by sexual pariahs) and yet they don't have the guts to commission a new show featuring chart music. It's Channel 4 who are still taking the risks and they are not funded by the license fee payer.

I went to the local corner shop today to buy a tin of spaghetti for lunch. It cost 74p. I handed the man behind a counter £10. "No change?" He said. "No, I'm afraid not," I said, feeling a little like his question would only have been valid had I been trying to pay with a fifty pound note. As I handed him the note he said, rather stroppily, "all the time, you coming in with no change." And I thought, "fuck you! All the time I'm coming in here and giving you custom instead of going to Sainsbury's down the road!" Gift horse. Mouth.

I worked all morning at Costa in the village whilst a loud-mouthed Jewish American woman shouted at her deaf elderly friend. For some reason she kept spelling her name. She'd go silent for a moment and then shout making the entire cafe jump. The woman sitting opposite me kept catching my eye and giggling.

On my way back from the rude shop, I went to our new local barber who turned out to be a rather jovial Iranian chap called Ali who'd grown up in Japan. Some people are just so "jet set"! I was a little surprised by how he pronounced Osaka. I've always thought it the "ah" sound was where the stress sat, but he stressed the "oh" - and made it sound more like the "o" of pot. Fascinating. He half made me want to go to Japan. I asked if, as a vegetarian, I'd struggle because the cuisine is so fish-heavy. "Oh no" he said, "there's lots of choice. It's not just fish. There's lots of meat too..." He then caught himself and said, "oh..." He spent ages cutting and primping my hair to the extent that I went into a hair-tickled coma. He's decided my parting needs to be higher on my head.

Speaking of hair, I have decided to embrace my beard for the time being and committed to it by trimming and shaping it this evening. Obviously it makes me look seventy-five, but I'm not sure I want to look forty-two.

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