It’s Budget time again — which presents the annual peculiar contradiction to this column.
There’s hardly anything but Budget stuff on radio for much of the week… yet the reviewer must largely ignore it.
Budget coverage is essentially impossible to review, because — like the thing itself — it’s more-or-less the same, repeated, year after year. It’s a rerun, action replay, cover version, homage, tribute act, impersonation.
For Budget coverage on radio, the details change; the fundamentals ever endure. You could set your watch by their inevitable appearance.
Newstalk and Radio 1 rejig their schedules. The Minister (Donohoe) drones on. The other Minister (McGrath) drones on. Both take questions, from broadcasters and “the public”.
Someone makes a prediction. Someone makes a different, less-optimistic prediction. Someone uses the terms “squeezed middle” and “old reliables” and “more/less cash in your pocket”.
Someone defends the budget. Someone decries it. Someone claims either that it A) “left everyone unsatisfied” or B) “had something for most people”. (Always followed by a chuckle and reference to the Late Late’s “one for everyone in the audience”.)
All these things happened last year and the year before. I knew they’d happen this year.
I don’t blame broadcasters. There’s not much room to manoeuvre around the Budget, and their coverage fulfils an important role in public life. It’s still basically unreviewable, though.
A few non-Budget observations, then. First: is it now acceptable to call British people and/or their government “the Brits”?
Pat Kenny (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 9am) said it more than once — during an interview with Bertie Ahern, no less — and he’s far from the only broadcaster doing this lately. I assume anti-Brexit sentiment has tilted the needle.
So is “the Brits” okay now for radio? Are there plans to expand this to “Krauts”, “Yanks”, “Eye-ties” et al? I need to know, to avoid potential diplomatic embarrassment.
Second: why are some people on radio now sounding an extra syllable in words with a hard consonant followed by an L? I’m sure you’ve heard them on programmes and, particularly, adverts: gambling as “gambolling”, cycling as “cykulling”, “rumbling” as “rumbulling”, “pickling” as “pickulling”.
When did this start? Why is it increasing in frequency? Do they not realise that things like “if you suffer from problem gambolling…” suggests someone whose uncontrollable urges to frolic through sunny meadows are ruining their life?
Third: why do so many sports broadcasters speak in the present tense all the time? Off the Ball, you in particular. Whether forthcoming events, the distant past or the actual now, it’s all present tense. I’m listening to this the other day and I’m thinking, does this get worse by next week? Probably.