10 January 2013
Tom Morton: one of the good guys
I agree completely with the article by Tom Devine on Radio Scotland (8 January), and whilst I could not possibly compete with his inside views, I do consider myself to be a professional listener and my life has a constant background of the radio.
There are some excellent staff producing outstanding work on Radio Scotland, but the relevance of the output to an ageing and intelligent person such as myself seems to be less and less. It appears to have more content focused at 'the young' audience – the sports fan and those who prefer their politics pre-digested. Even quirky old fashioned output like the 'Beechgrove Potting Shed' has felt the axe. What is someone in my position to do?
I have maintained some loyalty to Radio England (sorry Radio 4) but my coronary arteries are regularly tested when shouting at their bland assertions that such and such a policy is affecting me (no it does not apply in Scotland!), or constant reference to the weather or political views within 10 miles of the studio with total disregard to 'the regions' let alone Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Luckily modern technology can help. By using the internet, I have discovered some places where there does appear to be an output which is truly varied, but balances the local, the national and the international. Perhaps those developing the vital resource that is Radio Scotland should look to the likes of Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) in Ireland where they appear to have achieved the balance on a very limited budget.
I read the piece on Radio Scotland with interest. In a recent column in the Herald, radio critic Anne Simpson castigated the station for 'too much giggling verbal footsie' between presenters – a very just charge. I still listen on weekend mornings as I prefer RS to Radio 4 on those days. Tom Morton's afternoon music show from Shetland is another favourite. But though 'Good Morning Scotland' was once required listening in our house it has not been so for many years. Several years ago it appeared to stand down from direct competition with 'Today' and there was a rumour it had been told it should not aim to be an alternative national and international news round-up but needed to be more local and Scottish. But 'Today' seems very much to address an imagined home counties audience. It would be great to see 'Good Morning Scotland' return to its old form as a one-stop morning news format.
I have tried to put it down to an overactive imagination but, with the holidays behind me, and days spent in the kitchen with Radio Scotland in the background, I know it's true. And The Cafe is the best place to deal with my problem.
Kaye Adams drinks tea all through her show (also known as the 'call whoever you can drag into the studio because she's off again' show). I have long suspected that the mid-sentence gulps, disturbing the flow of a perfectly good sentence, were tea, but she confessed recently when she called for a cup of tea because she 'had some pills to take'. Did we care? I waited with baited breath to hear the wheels of the trolley as madam was brought her tea.
Of course, a wee cup of tea is part of Ms Adams' faux bonhomie with the masses; a lassie with a degree in politics who speaks Mandarin but still asks all her specialist guests to explain their subject because she's 'not very clued up on this particular one'. Spare me the condescension of radio stars.
I've put up with her gulps for months but now it's spreading. Gulping tea is almost mandatory if you are a KA substitute. Is it written into the contract? I almost choked when I heard Kirsty Wark gulp her tea ( yes, she was standing in for the missing KA). Now it has spread to the news, so action must be taken.
Lest I be hoist by the same petard that threatened the girl from Argyll doing great work in Malawi, I am definitely not advocating the sacking of the tea lady. Heavens no, they probably bring much needed sanity to the stressful world of Radio Scotland. But, please, keep the teacups in the green room. I believe there is a person who takes mobile phones away from guests before they enter the studio; can't he or she take teacups as well?
Tom Devine's excellent piece in SR points the way forward for Radio Scotland in many possible directions. Let's add another. Banish the gulp…
More often than not I disagree with Katie Grant – we have different political views – but I must commend her article (8 January) in which she explores the issue of gay marriage from 'biblical, practical and personal' perspectives.
Contrary to much of what is spouted by those who are against same-sex marriage 'on traditional grounds', the early Christian church was against marriage, saying that the only good Christian was a celibate man – now there's a policy guaranteed to undermine the future of humanity, as Pope Benedict claims will be the result of 'gay marriage'.
Eventually, and inevitably, the church realised that people were not going to give up on sex and marriage and embraced the idea, in fact taking over the ceremony to such an extent that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is now acting as if it has exclusive rights to it.
I read with increasing interest Chris Attkins' contribution to The Cafe (18 December) on the subject of the level of discussion about the Yes of No vote in the still very much forthcoming referendum. During this read, my mind floated back to a discussion with a fellow student – yes, it was that long ago – who happened to hail from Shetland. 'Edinburgh', he stated, 'seems as remote to us as London. We feel closer to Oslo'. If there are such great differences between Lerwick and Edinburgh, Highlands and Borders, islands and mainland, where exactly does Scotland begin and end? Ron Ferguson's comment in the same issue that division tends to lead to further sub-division surely comes into play here.
If this is true of Scotland, what about England and its sidekick, Wales? Where exactly does the psychological border run between Scotland and England, Wales and England and indeed, Scotland and Wales? To say the very least, the lines are blurred, although I must admit I write that as someone with a natural antipathy towards all borders. As someone who would classify himself as neither unionist nor nationalist, I would plead for the so-called devo-max option to be given more consideration and a place on the ballot paper when it eventually appears, allowing for the regional voices in all our countries to be afforded greater prominence. I never thought that I would ever quote this man, but in this instance: 'we are all in this together'.
The Cafe is our readers' forum. Send your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org