Sunday, October 14, 2007

Obscene profligacy funded by our money

I TURNED on the wireless in the car the other day to find Ed “Stewpot” Stewart broadcasting the soundtrack of my youth. As part of Radio 2’s 40th anniversary celebrations, we had I’m A Pink Toothbrush, Nellie The Elephant, Puff the Magic Dragon and Terry Scott’s seminal My Brother.

It was marvellous; real radio for real people. Not a hoodie or a visible thong within miles. The only tattoos were those that would wash off in the bath and the only time you put white stuff up your nose was when a sherbert dab went wrong.

And that was the BBC at its best. News and entertainment, structured across four radio stations and two television channels, and managing to cater for every age group and every special interest group. Chuck in some local radio and television, serviceable but not particularly good, and we were happy. The licence fee was worth paying.

These days the corporation is an out-of-control monster. Expensive satellite channels that no-one watches; a multiplicity of websites with a readership of one; a magazine publishing division that abuses its access to free publicity and resources at the expense of those companies exposed to harsh commercial realities; digital radio stations listened to by a teenager in his bedroom in Derby; the madness of BBC Worldwide, an arm of the corporation that should be selling The Office to Saudi Arabia and Teletubby dolls to the Yanks, but instead has just bought the Lonely Planet book company for an undisclosed sum … the lunacy goes on.

And then there’s the obscene profligacy, all funded by our licence fees. The small matter of £18 million over three years for Jonathan Ross, the 400 staff at the Athens Olympics to cover the exploits of 259 athletes, the £11.8 million spent by BBC staff on taxis in 2005 … I’ll say that again … the £11.8 million spent by BBC staff on taxis in 2005.

Still, the gravy train has now hit the buffers. Three thousand staff (out of 23,000) face the axe. There’s a £2 billion black hole between what director general Mark Thompson says the Beeb needs and what the licence fee will provide. So what will he do? Bin the stupid sideshows and crack on with the main job? No chance. The brunt of the cuts will fall on news and factual programmes. It’s an utter disgrace. And with our money as well.

TRY AS you might, it’s difficult to escape the inevitable conclusion that People Are Stoopid.

Take the radio listeners who rushed to text in their entries at 25p a pop when a local commercial radio station in Birmingham announced in May that it was offering 100 tickets “to go to Athens and watch the Champions League Final”. What are the chances of that then? The hottest ticket on the planet (if you remember, Liverpool fans were even robbing the children of fellow supporters to get in) and yet a radio station in the Midlands reckons that it has 100 tickets to give away? Plus travel, drinks and food? It’s enough to make a cat laugh.

Even when you factor in the Bullring Quotient (a calculation that people who wear plastic “leather” blouson jackets and grey, Velcro-fastening shoes are likely to have a low IQ) it beggars belief. Not even the cash-happy BBC would have the money to offer that kind of prize.

True to form, the “Athens” in question turned out to be an area of Birmingham and the food and drink was served up in a Greek restaurant and the match was watched in front of a big TV screen. There’s one born every day …

I’M A bit puzzled by this Alistair Darling fella and his much-vaunted green tax on planes, rather than on passengers. How does that work then?

At the moment we each pay £10 a time inside the EU and £40 for long haul. An average plane carries around 150 passengers, so raises taxes of about £1,500 per hop to France. So let’s assume that the new tax for the same flight is going to be £2,000 (well it’s only going to increase, isn’t it?) Do you really think that the swivel-eyed loon in charge of Ryanair is going to absorb the cost into his profits?

Of course not. The cost will be passed straight on to the poor bloody passenger, who’ll now have to cough up £13.30 instead of a tenner. The airlines will blithely carry on running as many flights as before while forcing us to pay the penalty. And the people in charge of doing the nation’s difficult sums are supposed to be clever? I’d rather trust my bookie to balance the country’s books.

A READER writes to take issue with my argument that there was no need for the Health and Safety Nazis to ban people from knitting in a hospital waiting room in case anyone got injured by a flying needle, saying that he had a pal who lost his eye due to an accident with a knitting needle.

I think you’ll find that’s natural selection – Darwinism in action – rather than anything for the rest of us to worry about. He confesses that he doesn’t know anyone who’s had their arm broken by a swan. That’s a very interesting point. Neither do I.

In fact, is there a single recorded incidence anywhere in the world of a swan breaking a man’s arm with its wing? No. Yet we were all warned by our mothers of the terrible fate that would befall us if we even meddled with a swan. It makes you wonder what other porkies we were force fed as kids.

I’d go out and pull a face until the wind changes, but it’s still not worth the risk that you’d end up looking like Ann Widdecombe for the rest of your life.


Blogger Nethercourt said...

Ah, now Bazza, some of those 'old wives tales' were put about for a reason. Toads give you warts! Better than having your arse warmed when the toad you bought into the house scared the maid witless!
As for Swans, as they are Crown property, leaving 'em alone might have been a good idea in the days when punishment fitted the crime and a close haircut was possible.
Nowadays of course, any passing pikey can help himself and reasonably expect a pension for his efforts.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Al said...

Re the green taxes on flights - it's a simple economic fact that the airlines' costs - including taxes - will be factored into the ticket price. That's how they work out the ticket price - by calculating costs and adding ona profit margin. So you have to wonder who Alistair Darlek is trying to fool by supposedly switching the tax from passenger to airline. He is obviously trying to make the tax more acceptable, because presumably the same idiots who fell for the Athens scam and their ilk will think there will be no cot impact on their 2 weeks in Tenerife.

4:16 AM  
Anonymous Al said...

I meant no COST impact.

4:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So these taxes that help the environment - what exactly have they done to the environment with this money, it rains they've no maoney for drainage, its sunny - there's a drought. Its another tax to fund the overpaid parasites pensions after a strenuous 4 years work!

12:50 AM  
Anonymous Al said...

You have to question the true motivation behind the "green" agenda.

Have you noticed that the anti-globalisation mob seem quiet recently? Well, actually they are all now "green" and campaigning to tax & restrict air & car travel - a different means to the same end.

Then there's the war on 4X4s, which doesn't stand factual scrutiny; 4x4s cover the whole spectrum of fuel consumptions / emissions, so the real argument (if there is one) should be against gas-guzzlers of all shapes & forms - people carriers, big Jags, etc. This is a classic case of divide and conquer - turn a significant number of drivers on part of their number and you get support to raise taxes, which are actually hitting drivers of Mondeos, Vectras etc as much as anyone - i.e. the drivers who supported the taxes in the first place.

It's very easy to gain popular support for something that alienates groups such as 4x4 drivers, smokers, people who use their phone at the wheel, speeding motorists, single mums (haven't had that one for a while - can we blame them for global warming?) but it's worth carefully checking the facts behind such campaigns,as their outcome usually hits a much wider target.

Finally, could you imagine the response to the great storm of 1987 if it happened today? If coure it would be caused by glaobal warming, and would therefore justify another hike in car & air travel taxes, because things like that never happened 20 years ago, did they?

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes the idiocy of people still shocks me. Does anybody actualy listen to the MPs etc? I know we are all very untrusting of what they usualy have to say, and that is for a good reason, they are mostly a bunch of cowardly moraly corrupt power chasers. But this airline tax issue.... they have simply recognised tjhat the current system just got the tax passed onto the passenger with little affect on the airlines. The new system shouldn't (supposedly) cost us any more, but penalises airlines for running half empty planes. If anything, we might see more of the stupidly low single fares we can get with some airlines at the moment as airlines desperately try to fill their flights

2:34 AM  

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