Saturday 25 January 2020

Marty's 'Hugo' letters make my mornings

John Masterton

Suddenly someone pops up with a sprinkle of radio magic that brightens your day, says John Masterson

THE days of waiting for the post are long gone. The idea of receiving a letter from an absent relative, friend or lover are but a memory of a long-distant past. Nowadays, if a partner has not replied to a text in a few minutes it is grounds for divorce. The only reason for not replying is that the loved one was in the arms of another, had the phone on silent, and thought the buzzing was hormonal.

In work life, if an email remains unanswered there is genuine fear that a client has gone belly up, or replaced your services with someone even cheaper. In this instant world it has been one of my recent joys to once again find myself each morning waiting for the post. Myself, and Marty Whelan, and an increasing band of devotees, that is.

All normal people are fed up to the back teeth with bad news by about three minutes past 7am. You flick stations to avoid one bit of gloom only to discover the opposition is about to interview the very same purveyor of doom that already destroyed the beginning of the morning. One of the beneficiaries of these depression merchants is Lyric FM and my old buddy Marty Whelan. These days, I dress to loud doses of Coldplay, Snow Patrol and Antony & the Johnsons and then channel-hop to Marty and wait excitedly for the post to be delivered.

The letter in question usually arrives before nine and Marty shares it with us asap. Hugo is the most reliable of correspondents and, so far as I know, has never let Marty down. His daily missive of wit and wisdom is on the welcome mat of the studio when Marty begins broadcasting in the darkness.

One of the reliable tests of compelling radio in the old days was to drive into the RTE car park when Gaybo was doing one of his great interviews.

You stopped the car and decided to listen to the end. Then you looked around and noticed you were far from the only one. Well, lo and behold, I parked the car quarter way through Hugo last week, sat in the car, looked around and noticed two other closet listeners smirking behind the wheel, with Marty squeezing every iota of comic effect from Hugo's words.

Nobody seems to know who Hugo is, and I assume he likes it that way. I did think it was Marty himself adopting an alter ego, but he denies this profusely and I am inclined to believe him.

Hugo is something of a gentleman farmer, I think, who obtained a wife, Daphne, many years ago. Daphne has an unparalleled ability to grasp the wrong end of any stick. I suspect he met her many years ago when he was up at Trinners and she was one of those good-looking 'gels' who did General Studies and had a great time. Over the years, they have expanded their brood with children from another time zone and a very tolerant au pair, Soledad.

It has long been one of my bug-bears that there is not enough amusement on the radio. The advent of talk radio has brought with it an awful lot of very serious talk, proof, if it were needed, that any idiot can talk about serious things but very few people can be funny. And many of those who are funny have to put up with the serious arbiters of taste who drone on telling us that these people are not really funny at all and that we are deluded.

The morning reports from Hugo on the adventures of the extended family have now become part of my morning routine. I am gaining a spring in my step and am facing the normal daily adversities of life in much finer fettle.

You can't beat a good laugh. Marty in the Morning, 7-10am Lyric fm

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