‘How do I love thee, George, giant among men?
HOW I wish those shallow attention-seekers would leave George Hook alone. A feminist to his fingertips, he has pioneered treating women with respect and equality since his first day in Newstalk.
Hook is incapable of belittling, objectifying or disparaging women. Let other broadcasters indulge in locker-room humour or double entendres if they must. Let them ignore women or talk down to them. Such behaviour is not in his DNA.
Take Hook’s unflaggingly respectful attitude to Pamela Anderson, about whom he tweets occasionally because he admires her campaign to ban wild animal acts from circuses.
When he posts observations about her, he does so in a spirit of generosity, sharing his platform to direct some helpful publicity her way. “Happy birthday to my beloved Pamela Anderson – her bra size and her age are now the same,” is one example.
Occasionally, he’ll give a profile-raising shout-out via Twitter to other women he feels are unfairly overlooked: “Dolly Parton’s breasts are bigger than Pamela Anderson’s – confirmed by G Hook on personal investigation.”
Clearly, Hook stands exposed as someone with unstinting appreciation for women.
Furthermore, this giant among men has perfected the art of making pithy remarks that mingle wit and insight (trainee broadcasters please note). I, for one, am grateful for his wisdom.
Some say he should have been taken off air years ago, because the undiluted graciousness we’re accustomed to hearing from him gets a tiny bit saccharine. Human nature being what it is, audiences like the odd scathing, unreconstructed or just plain mean comment from a broadcaster.
But Hook is having none of that. If he has a personality flaw, it’s his insistence on being as nice as pie. Call it his professional trademark.
Those who lack his progressive sensibilities denounce him as a snowflake, humourless liberal and politically correct junkie. Sticks and stones, Hook. Your enlightened persona puts you in a league of your own in Irish broadcasting.
Now, what follows is not criticism. Far from it, because my admiration is deep-rooted. Indeed, if Hook could be persuaded to run for public office, as he has sometimes hinted he might, I’d count it an honour to be a volunteer worker on his election campaign.
However, sometimes I wish he was a blunt speaker instead of tiptoeing round a subject. It can be difficult to gauge his views. In common with many of his fans, I like to be guided by the constructive, reflective, elder statesman observations he shares when willing to risk an opinion. But often he chooses to be circumspect.
All the same, I accept that when he holds back, it’s because of his profound respect for people’s sensitivities. It’s apparent that he simply can’t bear the idea of hurting a listener’s feelings. You can feel the pulse of his pain on the rare occasion when it happens.
What else do I love about Hook? His readiness to share his personal post is refreshing – I felt so close to him that time when he tweeted a holiday postcard from Greece showing two naked, sandy female bottoms.
Then there’s his ‘here come the girls’ slot on the show, when he does a hilarious troglodyte act, sham of course, and his women guests pretend to be amused. What larks.
Modest by nature, Hook dislikes the limelight or anything that draws attention to himself. I’d go so far as to call him the polar opposite of those narcissists employed by certain other stations.
It strikes me he entered the broadcasting world from a sense of duty to share his intuitive understanding of life, the universe, and why he eats granola for breakfast (I switched from toast because of him). Entirely laudable. He performs a public service, in fact.
Hook wouldn’t dream of stooping to deliberately controversial remarks to pitchfork listeners out of their complacency, thereby ratcheting up ratings. I mean, driving forward public debate. Nor would he try to source guests of that calibre.
I suppose that’s why his show is my safe space – a happy place. I know when I tune in I won’t be exposed to any dinosaur ramblings, men’s club antics, deliberate cage-rattling, or archaic viewpoints masquerading as fearless baiting of the thought police.
Hook would never say anything ignorant, insensitive, boorish, bigoted, crass, insulting, sexist or – heaven forbid – sleazy. If anything, he can tend towards the prudish. Downright puritanical, at times.
Men ought to use him as a role model for how to interact with the opposite gender. Unsure if a comment is appropriate? Simply ask yourself whether you hear it on air as a Hookism. Only remarks in the best possible taste make the cut.
If you’ve been paying attention, you probably realise that Hook has a line he’d never cross: passing personal remarks about a woman’s shape. Consequently, I was mystified a couple of years ago when he read out on radio some extracts from an erotic novel he’d been labouring over, referencing a character’s “wondrous orbs” and “double D” accoutrements.
Part of what I esteem in him is his grasp of language, used with rapier precision so that words mean exactly what he intends. He’ ll never lay himself open to accusations of verbal clumsiness...
Initially, I presumed he did it for a dare, or charity. Later, I rationalised it had to be some joker imitating the distinctive Hook growl because he’d rip out his tongue before sexualising a woman. Did I mention he’s a family man?
He’s like a cool teacher and friend combined. His life tips ought to be collected into a self-help guide. “Went to bed early with my Pamela Anderson collection and avoided the utter boredom of the greatest Super Bowl ever.” See? An early night, with reading material. No sounder advice to pass a broadcaster’s lips.
Part of what I esteem in him is his grasp of language, used with rapier precision so that words mean exactly what he intends. He’ll never lay himself open to accusations of verbal clumsiness, spouting off in a stream of consciousness that could be misconstrued.
Hook’s logic is famous for being lucid, well balanced and flawlessly assembled. I expect he’ll be invited to teach classes in broadcasting after he unclips his microphone, as Newstalk tells us has now done – whether temporarily or for good remains to be seen.
Personally, I’d totally understand if he felt, after recent events, that he needs a lovely long rest before returning to the airwaves. About a decade away should do nicely.
George Hook has an ‘unflaggingly respectful attitude to Pamela Anderson’