No, I’m not annoyed with Radio 4 itself. The problem is I like it too much.
Since I was a homesick 14-year-old on a school exchange with France, and discovered it on an old valve wireless on 198 longwave, I’ve been hooked. It’s so bloody interesting and informative - politics, current affairs, debates, comedy, the arts - simply wonderful (apart from the godawful plays). I’m even addicted to the Archers…
But since I’m not in the UK, I can only pick it up on longwave. And what does the Beeb do to the Radio 4 longwave signal every time there’s a cricket match anywhere in the world? They put the bastarding fucking cunting thing on fucking Radio 4 longwave.
The controversy over Zimbabwe notwithstanding, this is cricket I’m talking about: test matches last for up 8 hours a day for up to three bleeding days, and with the World Cup just started we’re talking dozens of bastard fucking shit boring cricket matches, going on for weeks. And nothing ever happens! Instead of thrilling, edge-of-your seat pants-wetting sporting dynamic tension, you get two ancient, plummy old duffers wanking on about a jumper they’ve been sent by some mad spinster in Dorking, or arguing over whether it’s a collared dove or a wood pigeon that’s hopping around near the stumps. Then occasionally you hear the gentle click of leather on willow, and “Ramprakash caught there for a duck, oh dear”, then back to bollocking on about the biscuits that the widow of a retired colonel in Chichester has baked them. I once even heard the following exchange - I swear this is true:
Duffer #1: Well the teams are coming back from tea, so while they take up their positions, we ask the question of whether or not the ball flies faster with the seam vertical or with it horizontal.
Duffer #2: Well the studies done by Wing Commander Wankington-Twatte indicate that it does indeed fly faster with the seam vertical.
Duffer #1: What possible authority on cricket balls is a flyboy? He’d only know about planes.
Duffer #2: I’ll have you know he’s an aerodynamics expert, and he’s been in the RAF for over seventy years.
Duffer #1: I’m not standing for this! The RAF hasn’t even been in existence for that long! [Sound of lapel microphone being pulled off and angrily thrown onto the desk.] [Receding into the distance] I won’t take this sort of nonsense.
Duffer #2: Oh. [sound of ball hitting stumps] Hussain bowled out there, oh dear.
Now tell me, auntie BB fucking C: what the FUCK did you create 5 Live for??? Live sports coverage, I thought. Now I can just about pick that up with my worldband radio, and what do I find when I tune into it? Highlights of the bloody cricket! What the FUCK is wrong with you knob-ends? How many fecking people are actually that bloody interested in bloody fucking ball-by-ball coverage of an entirely radio-unfriendly sport? It’s not that England are any bloody good at it, either. Cricket on Radio 4 is an exercise in repeated national humiliation, and turgid aural defilement.