Losing It

Meanwhile, our old cherry,
that we thought was dead, is flowering. 

I lost it with Woman's Hour this morning. Got so angry that I could have put my foot through the radio.

We are in the middle of a pandemic, we are on lockdown and have been for some weeks, we are worried about our loved ones and our finances, our media are pumping out news of death and despair every hour of every day, and all while we are bombarded with ill informed speculation from a hundred unscientific sources on social media - the more confident the assertions, the less reliable the data.

Then, while I was attending to some correspondence this morning, I switched on BBC R4's Woman's Hour.

Oh great. A programme all about death.

Even I, as a playwright, find it hard to imagine the online planning meeting they must have had about this one. But I'll try.

Gosh, somebody would have said. What can we do to cheer people up? What can we do to improve their mental health? How can we show them that there might be some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't an oncoming train?

I know. Let's talk about death. That'll do the trick. That'll give them the kick up the backside they need. I mean it's not as if it's on people's minds right now, is it? Not as if it's something they've even considered. Not now. Too busy enjoying themselves - you know, trying to find food and bog roll while avoiding other people, trying to entertain and educate their kids and wash everything that comes into the house. They must be loving it so much that we'd better give them a counterbalance to all that thoughtless pleasure.

Honestly. I practically fell over my feet in the rush to switch the buggers off. It was a prime example of what my dear late radio drama producer Hamish Wilson used to call 'the shit click effect'. When the listener says 'shit' and reaches for the off switch.

Which I did.

But in the current situation, when lockdown is really beginning to bite, when many people are fighting their own private battles with depression and fear, and yet showing a brave face to the rest of the world - how unforgivable was this in a national broadcaster?

Don't get me wrong. There is a time and a place for these conversations.
But that time is not now.
Here's some beautiful guitar music instead.