Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Halfway up Tooth Mountain

15st 8lb, 5.0 units. Another Tuesday, another newspaper column. I don’t know how I keep it up. Though I suppose it might well have something to do with the editor of The Journal telling me, when I started my regular Tuesday stint back in February 2006, that no-one could possibly write a weekly column for more than about nine months without repeating themselves or going mad. Though perhaps the latter need not trouble someone who was mad before they started.

It’s always a powerful motivator, proving a fellow human being wrong. Years ago I had a neighbour who received a diagnosis of cancer and a desperately depressing prediction of his life expectancy from his oncologist. A helpful friend bet him £500 that he would be dead by Christmas. This proved enough to keep him going not only through the festive season but for the best part of another two decades.

I did not intend to write about TV and radio this week. I had a lovely column sketched out in my head about Twitter, which I spent part of the weekend finally getting to grips with, having signed up for it many months ago and then never actually using it. Though in the meantime I noted that I had somehow gained a number of mysterious “followers” – most of whom, on closer inspection, appeared to be would-be vendors of pornography. So impossible to fault them on their homework, then.

Having “blocked” those and signed up to “follow” a list of more or less obvious journalists and celebrities, I sat back and tried to think what the hell to write for my first “tweet”. Inspiration finally struck on Monday morning when I found myself stuck behind two successive Renault Meganes being driven in that peculiarly irritating manner where the driver slows down to about 20mph on even the mildest bend, then speeds up to somewhere above the limit on the rare straight bits where one might stand a chance of getting past them.

Shortly afterwards I noticed a red sign on the stretch of the A41 I was navigating at the time which proclaimed “4 Deaths in 3 Years”. It did not seem all that bad to me – and for a nursing home it would be a positive triumph. Might there be a market for this very sign – or one like it – outside a Bide-A-Wee Maximum Security Rest Home somewhere in the country? There seemed no harm in making the enquiry.

But clearly it would be insanity to provide 1,400-word resumés of each of my “tweets” here. If interested, see http://twitter.com/#keithhann

Anyway, no sooner had I decided that I would devote my column to Twitter than The Journal’s Monday columnist proved to have used his to write about Facebook. And, given the average age of the readership, it struck me that that was probably quite enough about social media for one week. I was particularly irked that his starting point was the new Facebook page of HM The Queen, when the British monarchy is and always has been my very own Mastermind specialist subject.

How to retaliate? Given that Monday's columnist is a reasonably well-known TV producer, how better than by writing about TV and radio? And I was genuinely distressed by the end of Downton Abbey and the demise of Jack Duckworth. I wonder, incidentally, whether amidst all those acres of newsprint devoted to lauding Downton Abbey’s fine evocation of Edwardian England, anyone has paused to reflect that Edward VII had actually been in his grave for the best part of two years when the Titanic went down and the series started?

One other small point about the BBC that I did not have room to include in my column is the curious fact that they continue to talk about Burma, rather than Myanmar. This must surely be the ultimate sanction to indicate their disapproval of the regime, given how they fall over themselves to adopt every other modish local attempt to replace well-established English place names. You can be sure that the only people you will ever hear talking about “Bombay” or “Peking” on the BBC are educated Indians or Chinese who realize that it is polite and correct, when speaking English, to use the English names. Just as, no doubt, if they were speaking Italian, they would use “Roma” or “Firenze”.


One bit of good news, though. In a late correction to yesterday’s post, Mrs H informs me that The Boy already has 10 teeth, not eight as I assumed. So halfway there already, then.

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