Fringe Box



Ockhamite Diary: When the News Evaporates and TV Interviewers Interrupt

Published on: 4 Nov, 2022
Updated on: 7 Nov, 2022

A sidelong glance at the world from Tony Edwards…

Not quite the news

Back in the days when Janet Street-Porter co-hosted a breakfast show on LBC radio, she almost interviewed the first female cinema manager. I say “almost” because things didn’t quite go to plan and it turned out to be one of the most un-newsworthy interviews in broadcasting history. It went something like this.

Janet Street-Porter. “So you’re the first ever female cinema manager.”
Woman. “No – I think I may be the third.”
Janet Street-Porter. “You’re not the first female cinema manager then?”
Woman. “No.”
Janet Street-Porter. “Oh. That’s interesting.”

Janet Street-Porter

Interesting it wasn’t. And faced with the fact that the news element of this interview had suddenly, and without warning, evaporated into thin air, the motor-mouthed Street-Porter asked a couple of token questions, wished the lady a long and successful career, and headed back to the studio.

I mention this historic non-interview because “evaporating” news stories seem to be increasingly common these days – especially when children are involved. I’ve counted four in the past three weeks, the latest of which was when a small boy was asked how excited he was to have raised so much money for charity. “It made me tired,” he said.

Laura in silent mode

Laura’s speak-over show

Don’t be surprised if your TV makes strange whining noises during Laura Kuenssberg’s Sunday morning show on the beeb. It’s not a technical fault – merely the 46-year-old journalist continually interrupting and speaking over her guests as they attempt to answer her questions.

Guided by the stars

“Big Yin” Billy Connelly says, in his autobiography, that he once told a girlfriend how he’d changed his star sign at the local post office so they’d be a more compatible couple. “I used to be a Gemini but switched to Sagittarius,” he told her. “Cost me a fiver.”

Jokes aside, he’s a genuine Sagittarius (Nov 23 – Dec 21) and so shares his star sign with Brad Pitt and Britney Spears which, according to zodiac rules, means they are optimistic, hilariously funny, honest, fair-minded and the best conversationalists of all the star signs.

And for those who think that’s a load of old tosh, I’ve a cautionary tale to tell which may persuade you otherwise. I’d been browsing around an astrological nick-nacks shop in Kensington called Zodiac when the owner came over and introduced himself.

Aries the ram – disliked by Taurus

“Aries folk like you will be having a very good day today,” he announced with great authority. And he was right. I am an Aries and the day was going particularly well.

He then assured me he could tell the star sign of anyone merely by their demeanour and attitude and I’d apparently marched into his shop, head down and resolute – all so typical, apparently, of the Aries ram.

So I asked him to guess the star signs of some other customers in the shop and was amazed when he scored six-out-of-six in quick succession. I checked with each of them to confirm, but he warned me off the seventh.

Taurus the bull – enemy of Aries

“Best, perhaps, to steer clear of Taurus folk today,” he said with a nod to a man who’d just entered the shop. “They’re going through a bit of a difficult patch.”

I waved his warning away with the flick of my hand and asked the well-dressed young man with an umbrella if he was a Taurian. “Mind your own f****** business,” he snapped back, switching the brolly menacingly from his left to his right hand and bringing our brief conversation to a swift close.

Aries and Taurus are often incompatible – it’s written in the stars. Billy was right, one of us should have switched signs for a fiver at the Post Office.

Bumbling Joe’s verbal misfires

Rishi Sunak shouldn’t be too concerned about US President Joe Biden’s verbal misfire when he called Britain’s new Prime Minister “Rashee Sanook” at an event in Washington last week. It could have been worse – much worse.

Last year bumbling Joe appeared to forget the name of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, referring to him merely as “that fella down under.”

Bumbling Joe Biden in action

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine Joe managed to get the name of an entire nation wrong when he said; “Putin (say Poodin) may circle Kyiv with tanks but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Iranian people.”

More recently, at a White House conference, he wanted to know if Indiana Representative Jackie Walorski was in the room. “Representative Jackie – are you here?” he called out, apparently forgetting that she’d died in a car crash eight weeks earlier.

And then there was a recent verbal car crash which seemed to make no sense whatsoever when he declared: “The best way to get something done…if you hold something dear to you…that you are like to be…(deep sigh)…Anyway…”

And that was that until this week when he claimed he’d previously campaigned in 54 US states – when there are only 50. But at least he didn’t mispronounce anyone’s name.

Hello, Hello, Hello

Telephone calls from my friend Ian in Portsmouth always begin with a cheery “Wotto”. He’s kicked off conversations with “Wotto” for well over forty years so he’ll almost certainly ignore a new report that claims “Hey” and “All right” have now taken over from more traditional greetings.

In this week’s survey by some publicity-seeking company or another, we’re also told that “Good morning”, “Good afternoon” and “Pleasure to meet you,” are now redundant too – along, presumably, with “Hi”, “How goes it?”, and Ian’s signature


And the formal handshake is also due for the chop. In what looks like a hang-over from the pandemic, we are all meant to be fist bumping or just giving a casual nod of the head.

But I really can’t get my head around the report’s claim that “What’s up?” is now one of the most popular greetings among friends. Surely “What’s up?” is what people ask you when you’ve just collapsed in a heap on the floor, foaming at the mouth?

The scent of money to burn

Forget about Britain’s cost of living crisis – people with money to burn spent £420 million on scented candles last year. But some scents would probably pass for pongs rather than perfumes, like one called “Acton’s Lock”, a £55 candle named after the graffiti-strewn, weed-covered lock on the Regent’s Canal in London.

Eau-de-Gwyneth or Jeremy?

The Margate-based company which dreamed that one up also sells a candle inspired by a graveyard, while Selfridges have a ‘Royalty’ candle which smells like tea time and another which reflects the wood and leather aroma of a l950s Bentley.

But, not to be out-perfumed by Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest £57 candle which, she claims, captures the scent of the most intimate part of her well-publicised body, Jeremy Clarkson is now marketing one to mimic his own private parts – at a bargain £22-50p.

And they’re both completely sold out, we’re told, so maybe Gwynnie and Jezza could now put their nether regions away, pull their pants up, and give Airwick a chance to reclaim its market share.

Not going out

Fancy a stop-at-home job as a ‘Business Manager’ with Surrey County Council’s adult social care department? It pays around £52k and offers “flexible” working between office and home – spotlighting how the post-Covid switch to home working is now becoming a permanent feature of local government.

Perhaps it’s all part of an innovative plan to sell off the council’s redundant office space and slash our council tax bills?

A word to the wise

Wordsmiths at Harper Collins’ HQ reckon the word “Permacrisis” sums up the “Extended period of instability and insecurity” we’ve all been experiencing lately.

A home for Word of the Year

So they’ve made it Word of the Year and added it to their database of 4.5 billion entries which forms the basis for their dictionaries.

My computer spellcheck doesn’t recognise “Permacrisis” so I guess it’s not yet mainstream lingo. It doesn’t yet recognise “Pseudofact” either – a word I’ve just invented to describe “Biased and misleading information”, like Taylor-Wimpey’s sales pitch to plug their so-called new town at the former Wisley airfield.

They talk about “excellent transport links” when no less an authority than the Secretary of State described the complete absence of transport infrastructure as a “fatal flaw in the scheme” when he dismissed a planning appeal for a similar proposal four years ago.

And the suggestion that local residents welcome the plan is another pseudofact.

A quick glance at the council’s planning portal tells a very different story – just 11 for, with 1,125 against. And one of the 11 pro votes relates to a different planning application altogether.

Stopping the full stops

A full stop at the end of a sentence is a sign of passive aggression and should be avoided at all costs. So says Generation Z – Gen Z for short.

And if you’ve never heard of Gen Z, or Zoomers, welcome to the club. I’d never heard of them either until this week but I can tell you they are between 10 and 25 years old and the first generation never to know a world without the internet, having grown up entirely in the digital era.

They argue that the mere act of pressing the send button is proof that it’s the end of a text message, for example, so a full stop is redundant. And they point to newspaper headlines as another area where full stops are never used. They don’t like paragraphs either – too long and very worrying for an age bracket that writes in single sentences and, apparently, sends each sentence separately to avoid confusion.

Gen Z boasts rather a lot about being unified, diverse, realistic, and more technologically advanced than Millennials (26-41 years), Generation X (42-57), Boomers (58-67) and Boomers 1 (68-76) so they’re also what Post War people (77-94) used to call big heads.

I dread to think what WW11 types (95-100) will have two say about it all if they ever find out how to Tweet on their new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4.

(With apologies for the use of paragraphs and full stops.)

Thought for the day

How do towels get dirty if you only ever use them when you’re clean?

Share This Post

Responses to Ockhamite Diary: When the News Evaporates and TV Interviewers Interrupt

  1. Carol Maidlow Reply

    November 4, 2022 at 8:26 pm

    No full stop? What next, no punctuation at all, and heaven knows if they can spell!!!

    Editor’s response: What next, four exclamation marks?

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *