Wednesday, February 25, 2015


A recent run of hot weather has meant wakeful nights flapping the duvet out of the way and sighing. The holiday season here down-under means that there is nothing worthwhile on radio as well as nothing worth watching on telly, which is a given at this time of year. The music on radio during the night is way worse than the talking. Sleep is not an option in the heat. Which has meant, as a last resort, listening to some of the unbelievably tedious opinions of those who spend the nights calling talk-back radio and droning on.

They have never been to see “Hamlet” and heard Polonius declare that

“… day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes …”

The people who access talk-back radio and can express themselves articulately and, if possible, briefly are welcome but only too rare. The nights are currently filled with the other kind, full of “limbs and outward flourishes”. Why do people think that by saying something three times over, and at great length, punctuated with ums and you-knows, it is more interesting than saying it once, succinctly? The smart talk-show hosts can, if they are paying attention, swiftly cut off anyone who utters the words “as I was saying …” because they would know that the wretched caller has re-wound himself and is preparing to say it again.

If the host is not smart, has dozed off, or is watching international sport on the studio TV, we helpless and sleepless listeners end up grinding our teeth while we endure the tortuous and garbled ramblings of Tom, Dick or Mary. I don’t blame the host (well, yes I actually do) because even I would rather be watching cricket being played in Mumbai.

Those dreary callers should listen to Polonius, who could offer them some sound, pithy advice – he was good at it. “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” he counselled Laertes briskly. And he didn’t mess about sparing Queen Gertrude’s feelings with burbles and soft soap to dress up his opinion that Hamlet was off his head. He told her that “… I will be brief: your noble son is mad.” Good for you, my lord.


  1. Oh, I so agree about the too-hot nights and lying awake. I can't bear talkback radio though, I find I get too enraged by the gormless callers . I have a fan on and the noise is quite soothing, like white noise. And the cooling effect is pleasant too. I also listen to audio books when I can't sleep - at the moment I'm listening to Bill Bryson reading his book about walking the Appalachian Trail.

  2. I used audio books too - to such an extent that the local librarian once took me gently aside and asked if I needed help with reading. And I heard the first chapter of "Cranford" but never got to the end - had to buy a copy. Dylan Thomas (Under Milkwood) was my favourite I think. "Gormless" - yes, that's the word.