Tuesday, 3 August 2021

The thief of time

Procrastination, of course. But that thief has had a wide range of accomplices over time, and the latest, in my experience, is BBCSounds ("Music, Radio, Podcasts", as they say, forgetting to add "time-sink"). I have hitherto used BBC radio as a time-keeper, but BBC Sounds has a feature that lets you rewind...

(There's an interesting metaphor, another example to add to the long list of figures of speech that refer to an obsolete technology, like flash in the pan (from the world of firearms) or give someone a ring (from the world of telephony) or in the last reel (cinema) or down to the wire (horse racing). We use rewind to refer to electromagnetic tape or film, although no such medium is involved in the recording of either sounds or images today (except in the practice of museums or Luddites or hobbyists); most recording now is digital...
(Another interesting term... But if I stopped every time I saw a noteworthy word, I'd be here all day. I must really get back to the main issue – procrastination [nb: irony].
... to the beginning of the programme you've tuned in to...
(And there's another,"tune in",  harking back to Bakelite knobs and crackly reception.)

This is a frequent temptation, I find. But it ruins the radio as a timekeeper. Programme  follows programme, with time signals and everything, leaving the listener in a land of make-believe.

And then there are podcasts...

(a once proprietary word, like Hoover or aspirin, that the BBC is reconciled to [understandably, there being no alternative]; but podcasts were once the spawn of the iPod.

One can get sucked in to a black hole of true crime and unsolved mysteries; there is a lot of dross out there. And there are vain attempts at sticking to a format that must have seemed worth sticking to at some stage: a prime example is British Scandal (not BBC so interlarded with toe-curling advertisements): the  creators seem to think that scandal means "any-old fairly noteworthy thing that caused a bit of a stir once and involved skulduggery of some kind".

My favourite is Newscast, but it is not without its faults. Worst of all is Chris Mason's illiterate and condescending outro:

Well ...

(At least it isn't "so")

...thank you for making it to the end of another Newscast. You clearly ooze stamina...

Most of the same phonemes, but in a different order. For the first few hearings I missed this, bridling at the misplaced unctuousness. Surely this merits a place in a school magazine somewhere. 

May I gently encourage you to subscribe to us on BBC Sounds and then, without doing anything else, our meandering chat will miraculously make its way to your phone.

This may not be verbatim. If I listen again to check, my ears may start to bleed. (Whenever it comes on, I feverishly jab at the Stop button.). But the gist is there.

He could usefully take a leaf out of Anthony Zurcher's book on Americast ; his outro is admirably sparse, and says twice as much in half the time, with none of the sophomoric wordplay.

But there are Olympics to watch and biomass to do battle with in the garden, so that's all for now.




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