Saturday, January 13, 2007

Colonel Moseley's Ten Ultimate Gripes

What ho! I had been fairly mellow over Christmas enjoying a plentiful supply of decent claret and white burgundy and hardly any distracting visitors. However, no sooner had Jools Holland officially ushered in 2007, than the dyspeptic void of January and February stretched before me. This was made worse by the lingering memory of the cricket Down Under and the vapid nonsense of Celebrity Big Brother at home.

This was not the ideal mood in which to write a piece, but trying to make a positive out of a negative, I decided to turn my morose New Year sentiments to constructive use. It’s time to say what’s too often unsaid and blow a raspberry or two. Here are this year’s top ten gripes and objects of loathing:

1. Renta Presentas: it may be sacrilege, but a few presenters seem to have cornered the market on television and are invariably called upon to front-up coverage on most issues. I have no problem when they are in their own special fields, but not where they have no particular knowledge or experience. It is done because producers think the public will only be comfortable with familiar voices. Thus we are often blessed with Alan Titchmarsh or Tess ‘n Vern. Please give us a break.
2. Dull local television: with rare exceptions, local television features are uninspiring. They tend to be token efforts demonstrating non-existent regional autonomy and are used by local TV journalists for self-promotion and to get to London, which sadly is still the only place that really matters.
3. The Chancellor: Gordon Brown’s stealthy removal of various reliefs did enormous damage to final salary pension schemes and helped undermine a system of provision that really worked. Although few seemed to notice this apparently technical change, its effects were profound and deplorable
4. Personal stereos and mobile ‘phones: a whole generation walks around obliviously with earphones or apparently holding loud conversations with themselves. They are saying “Don’t enter my world”. These gadgets are more anti-social and isolating than hoodies.
5. Expensive telephone lines: companies remove opportunities to obtain information or do business in person and force customers to use costly 08.. ‘phone lines to do something which should be free. It is an insult to one’s intelligence; so complain or check out the SAYNOTO0870.COM website.
6. The son also rises: anyone who has tried to build a career in the media will have noticed the early starts some way up the ladder of many of the progeny of the famous: the Corens, Schulmans, Geldofs - say no more.
7. Help-lines: I don’t object to call centres being in India or Aberdeen. Wherever they are, I loathe having to listen to long lists of options before being held in limbo subjected to irritating musak, informed that “You are in a queue” and being made to wait far too long. I particularly hate being told that “Your call is important to us” whilst self-evidently it is not. They should remember that they owe their living to customers and treat them with respect.
8. Naff celebrity advertising: ever since Dennis Compton and Brylcream one has come to expect some star endorsements. We can live with glamorous campaigns for perfume by Nicole Kidman but how can any self-respecting celebrity flog loans, sofas or frozen sausage rolls?
9. Motor bikes: in my opinion they are noisy, dangerous and too fast. Although many may be responsibly driven by off-duty teachers and social workers, they should be as thoroughly policed as motor cars.
10. The Scots: why should we accept the fact that the Scots fervently support any opponent of England in any sport whilst we wish Scottish football teams, tennis players or racing drivers well? Why do the English have no say in the deliberations of the Scottish parliament whilst Scottish MPs play such a prominent part in the House of Commons? Why must so many leading figures in English politics be Scots? Could they please have Messrs. Brown, Reid, Campbell, Kennedy and others back and give England its independence?

Remember to voice your views or the baddies will think they’ve won. I think I’ll finish off that claret now. Pip, pip!

* a version of this piece appeared in Birmingham 13