It's been a while since I have posted anything and thats mostly because I have had very little to post about. Pendragon is going on hiatus, we've got a couple of new games taking it's place and the return of SotC. My two games are chugging along nicely and our PTA prologue was highly enjoyable. So, in essence, all is well.
And then I listened to Radio 4 this morning and wondered whether a radio programme can actually have pre-menstrual tension? My friend and fellow rp'er Andrew is adamant that I should not be allowed to listen to any news medium as I am prone to exploding in some quite vulgar vitriotic diatribe at the crass nature of the reporting. He's right. However my wife has become quite addicted to the dulcet tones of R4 in the morning so I have to listen to the Today Show and be happy with it.
Which is hard because, well, for the show that most people would suggest is the pinnacle of intellectual news broadcasting from the BBC - one of the flagship programmes of the adult spoken word channel indeed - it is about the most purile, right-wing, reactionary, shallow and down-right annoying programmes I find myself experiencing. (Don't get me wrong here, it's still one million miles away from the absolute shite thrown out by ITV or the 'Metro news with moving pictures' that is 5 News but still...)
This morning's two knuckle-whiteners were on the topic of sport - specifically England's test series victory over the West Indies and the visit of the Olympic oversight committee today to London.
So, lets see what we have to say about the cricket? Thrilling match which gave England an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series. England have now would 11 series at home on the trot making it very much 'Fortress England'. Micheal Vaughan is now the most successful English captain ever. Steve Harmison is one of only 11 English players to take 200 first class wickets. Kevin Pieterson sits just behind Bradman as the fastest player to 2500 runs in test history and Monty Panesar was the first English spinner to have a 10-fer for decades. So it was a good match then right?
Oh no... not on Radio Four! See, before the match Micheal Vaughan made some disparaging comment about the once-great-but-now-addled 'Freddie' Flintoff and then suggested that it might not have been meant that way and then said it was. Of couse, him and Flintoff being the best of mates have patched up their differences. THATS NOT THE POINT!!! You see, in the eyes of R4 he LIED and you simply cannot do that. No indiscretion is allowed. At all. Ever. They stopped short of suggesting that Vaughan should RESIGN over the matter, but they were far more interested in the fact that he LIED about his comment (ie. changed his mind) rather than the fact that the team had just rewritten the record books. And then you have Panesar, who has become an absolute cult hero amongst England fans because of his enthusiasm and boyish charisma on the field - the fact that he is probably the best left arm spinner in the world at the moment helps as well! Have you seen the guy dance around like a fitting chicken when he takes a wicket. It's awesome. However, he was told to chill out a little bit by the umpires for his over-enthusiastic appealling and not turning once to face the umpire when appealing - which is apparently a no-no. So that had to be brought up again. Just a wall of negative, glass-half-empty, downbeat reporting of what should have been a happy day for English cricket.
And then the bloody Olympics. You would think that, as a nation that has been trying for as long as I can remember to host major sporting events, we would be happy to have the Olympics. Euro 96 was an awesome summer spectacle. The Manchester Commonwealth games, whilst not so obvious, was great too. Wembley is open and looking good so the Olympics - good, right?
Not at all! Every single thing that could possibly be criticised about it has been. I could write a book about the ludicrously small-minded comments that have been made so far, but I'll just comment on two - the damned bloody logo and consultants.
The logo is a logo and will be everywhere by June 2012 and nowhere October 2012. As far as emphemera go, it's right up there with William and Kate 'Wedding' memorabilia and Big Brother 7 t-shirts. It's also a piece of design artwork and that, ladies and gents, means that some people will like it and some people will not. Now, you don't have to be a genius to work out who doesn't like it? Thats right - anyone who has a vested interested in selling newspapers or spiking ratings/visits. Oh and it cost £400,000 to do and you know what? A teenager with photoshop can make something better.
Oh can they? Can they really? And have they done all of the post-production for that image? Have they made the animated TV and web graphics? The newspaper versions? The billboard ones? Have they worked out how their image will be put onto mascots? Have they checked that their images isn't insulting to one of the 120-odd participating cultures? Sure, the designers dropped a bollock when they forgot that flashing images can trigger photo-epilepsy but thats an easy one to solve. Once again we see the common British failing - whilst we have become a nation built on service industries we are a manufacturing and heavy industry culture at heart. Those that work and sweat with their hands, within our cultural instinct, should be paid more than those that simply work with their brain. The miner works 'harder' than the designer. The shipbuilder is more 'worthy' than the accountant. The farmer is more 'valuable' than the marketeer. And as soon as relatively large amounts of money are mentioned... well, our national knee-jerkery just goes into overdrive.
What we fail to mention on R4, as they question some minister or other on whether the government is going to bow to 'public' (ie. their) opinion and scrap the logo (thus wasting that £400,000) is that a painting by some dead bloke will sell for £20m or whatever and then be put away in a private gallery for no-one to see. Thats OK, thats art and private money. This is 'modern design' and public money. Whole different kettle of fish.
Which brings us onto consultants. Now I have a little sympathy here as I am aware of the qualifications required to be called a consultant (none) and the salaries paid (vast). However, for Radio 4 to complain about there being too many consultants involved in the Olympics planning is farcical. Why? Follow the logic.
The Olympics uses public money, which needs to be accounted for as naturally this vastly visible project, the biggest construction project in Europe, is going to have lost of places where cash can be siphoned off. Corruption! Deceit! Fraud! It's the bread and butter of R4 so it has to be stopped. Now, you cannot have politicians deal with it because as we all know, all politicians are incapable of telling the truth or doing anything competent like wiping their own arse. So they have to appoint independent auditors to check that the money isn't being snaffled. Cool. But if the auditors are being appointed by the Government (this being public money) then they are not independent and therefore they themselves have to appoint auditors to audit the auditors to ensure that their independence is true. No, this isn't a Danny Kaye sketch, but you can probably add another layer of auditing on top of that just to make absolutely SURE that everything is above board.
But auditors cost money! Public money that in radio land doesn't get counted in pounds and pennies, but rather in hospital wards and transplant operations. (You know the score - one football match costs around three hospital wards and a dozen transplant ops). So you have to get rid of some auditors because the money that is being spent on them is deemed too much. So you begin to strip back the layers of control, checks and balances to save money.
Guess what? THE PUBLIC MONEY IS NO LONGER SECURE!! Where are the checks and balances? Where are the assurances of independence?! Eeek! The sky is falling in and workmen are leaving site each day with their pockets overflowing with golden dubloons doled out by Gordo Brown and the idiots at the Treasury! Quickly, RE-EMPLOY the auditors!! And thus the madness continues.
Lack of insight into the end product of their arguments makes R4 boil my blood. They skim these topics seeking to get a rise on their insane messageboards from the moderately angry right wing masses of middle England who are too posh to read the Daily Mail but just as indignant. They think that they are championing common sense and giving the people a right to reply when in fact all they are doing is undermining good works that are done by reinforcing fallacy and short-termism.
Bah and indeed humbug!