There is something frighteningly comforting about hearing the pips.
Bip. Bip. Bip. This is BBC Radio 4. Here is the news at 12.00.
It hasn’t changed. In a world where news is no longer news unless accompanied by loud incidental music and graphics so increasingly mad that Chris Morris could no longer send them up, dear old BBC Radio 4 gives it to you straight. And that’s just so soothing.
They could tell you that every nuke in the world was trained on Great Britain and we were all going to be vapourised by teatime. But they’d do it so calmly and with such old world charm that you’d smile and say “Oh well – had a good innings,” and put the fucking kettle on.
It’s great. I love Radio 4. I just don’t listen to it that often because the experience is all too Proustian. I just stood stock still in the stairwell listening to the pips and all of a sudden I was six years old again and everything smelled of developing fluid and curry – those all pervasive smells that drifted from the direction of Dad’s makeshift dark room (Enter when red light is on and die.) and the kitchen respectively. I was six and it was 1982. My Little Pony was the most exciting new development in my world. There was a large amount of plasticine stuck to the carpet in my bedroom. I was probably making something out of a cardboard box – did a lot of that when I was six. And always to the background of Radio 4, to the pompous constant rumble of the Commons chamber, to radio plays and the old Goon Shows and the serialisation of Lord of The Rings.
It may seem a little archaic to some people, but trust me – this was the only way some working class parents could handle small children in the 1980s. Plug the little shits into the radio and pray they don’t want to watch any more TV than is strictly necessary. Advertising creatures more or less perfected what they call (And I translate from a language that would have given even H.P. Lovecraft a raving case of the heebie jeebies) ‘pester power’ in the 1980s. Children, they surmised, are basically small mobile Ids with no idea of the value of money and very, very loud voices. In other words, they are the perfect consumer. Bad news for those parents who, like so many in Thatcher’s awful Britain, had no fucking money.
Consequently, here’s a cardboard box. Now listen to the radio, shut the fuck up and stay out of the darkroom.
Luckily for my parents I was very interested in cardboard boxes.
Oh, and apropos of nothing, the month of madness approaches. It really is nearly November and time for a balls-to-the-wall mentalathon in which we all have nervous breakdowns and write uneven novels about…um…well, whatever is this year’s zombies. Last year it was vampires, believe it or not. Lot of vampire novels. Lot of people bravely trying to rescue the undead from their current sparkly, brushable My Little Vampire image.
I think the damage is done, actually. It’s probably going to be a good fifteen or twenty years before pop culture has another vampire fad. I don’t think True Blood is doing very well, is it? (I didn’t even finish watching series one – I couldn’t stand the jacked up accents and constant ugly, sweaty fucking. Jesus, don’t these people ever cuddle afterwards?) And the Twilight bandwagon is really creaking to an embarrassing halt. You can tell that the studio is desperate to milk this franchise until its tits turn black and eventually drop off – how can you make two movies out of Breaking Dawn when there’s barely enough plot in the book for one? And the trailer is already laugh-out-loud funny – this roaring epic movie score over what is essentially appears to be a movie about getting knocked up on your honeymoon. Whoo. The score for their married life together is going to be amaaaaaaazing, including such tracks as the up-tempo Bella Goes To Tesco, the combatitive, timpani heavy You Left A Log In The Toilet And Didn’t Flush and the poignant, tender Go To Fucking Sleep, Darling, Mummy Is Tired.