Nothing like a gripe session to feel better
QUITE a time since we had a solid gripe session. What good is a column if not to gripe? Isn’t that why columns were invented?
They revoke your Columnist Licence if you miss your Gripe Quota, like health clubs for an unused gym card.
So let’s do gripes, starting with a truly topical one: How cruel is fate to give us a warm bright clear midwinter Sunday, which would be a pride in the summer of many less-privileged nations, at the same time as it throws us a dose of winter colds that leaves us puffy-eyed and crosseyed, pasty-faced and brittle-boned, with an evil elf rubbing an iron file inside our throat?
We could do plenty of griping about colds. Why are they called “colds” when they have us overheat ourselves like mad?
How can they still exist in an age that has managed medical miracles in respect of everything from brain to heart to prostate?
To have done all that without solving colds seems out of order, as if science had given us lasers, internet, Viagra and all, but forgot to invent matches.
And now that colds have put gripes between our teeth, as it were, let’s gripe about other things, like the electronic media.
Some of us have to be a little careful here. For instance, if I ever get righteous on the subject of media interviewers, I remember Pallo Jordan. Cool, calm Pallo, fount of broad knowledge and deep thought, riveting in his passion for Xhosa history and culture; damn pity he had to fall on his sword for exaggerating his degrees. He’Il live forever in my mind for the time he told me “to a question that complicated I trust I may give a serialised answer”.
So it’s with no element of “I would do it better” that I ask this question: Is there some convention now that the best interviewer is the one who asks the longest question? There are times you can clearly make out the thought-bubble hovering over the guest’s head, saying “I get your question, I got it five sentences ago, I would have already answered it if you were not continuing to re-repeat yourself.”
It’s almost as if a subtle in-joke is on the go. The media guy who consumes the highest share of airtime wins the bet. Bonus award if they then break into the interviewee’s first sentence to say “And that is where we leave it. Be with us tomorrow. Remember, only on Channel XYZ.”
Which brings us to another gripe, this emphatic only, which started out as a punt for the kind of programme that your competitor didn’t have, like a heroes series or a dorps series, but is now everywhere.
I could swear I’ve heard that the news is only on a certain channel. Wait a little, we’ll hear that of the weather, too.
While we’re about it, might we gripe a bit about time?
I wonder if it’s unwarrantably nostalgic to remember the days that the 8 o’clock news started at 8 o’clock.
Now that might be the signal to begin the first of five recyclings of the logo and the batch of teaser pictures which, after you’ve seen them five times, have become anti-teaser pictures; change-the-channel pictures.
Tsk, I’m just warming up into the field of gripes and we’re out of space already. The next gripe season had better roll around soon.
Meantime, here’s assuring our local new channels that we love them dearly. Especially when they look for truth rather than the master’s voice.