Week 25-04-15 Archive

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One Sunday morning there was an event on BBC Radio 4 that brought so much pleasure to so many people in the UK that it should be recorded in the official history of the organisation

It was about 2 minutes of total silence that, if for no other reason, should make the history books as it was one of the longest "dead air" episodes to be broadcast without explanation

So why pleasure? Well, the other reason it was so notable was that it was 2 minutes that would otherwise have been taken up by the voice of one of the most criticised and disliked broadcasters since Lord Haw Haw, the World War 2 traitor

Neil Nunes is the Radio 4 continuity announcer who went off air at around 09.58 on Sunday April 19 as he was about to ruin the link into The Archers omnibus edition

He is the man with the extraordinary and infuriating foreign accent who, among other murderous assaults on English, turns "across" into "acrorse" and "off" into "orf" and whose delivery of the word "appeal" ends in a strangulated gurgle that sounds like a death rattle

As Archers fans steeled themselves to hear him struggling to introduce their favourite programme, he disappeared into the ether and the next thing heard was the opening bars of the theme tune

Did he throw the wrong switch? Did some techy cut him off? Or was it just a good old fashioned gremlin in the works? Whoever or whatever it was, it saved me and thousands like me from my usual routine of desperately grabbing the radio to turn it off until the threat had passed

Just why Neil Nunes holds down a job as a continuity announcer is as big a mystery as what happened that wonderful Sunday. Continuity announcers used to have the classic "County" accent. It was actually called a "BBC accent". Many still sound quite posh, although there are quite a few with representative British regional accents

Above all, continuity announcers are supposed to have non-intrusive voices to blend in with the wallpaper and not demand attention. Non-intrusive Mr Nunes aint. He positively demands attention as we all wait pensively for him to mangle yet another word



In the uncertain world of politics there has been one constant for a very long time

The vast majority of Governments formed after General Elections have put either the Conservative or the Labour Party in power, with the loser of the two coming in with more votes than any of the other parties

This happened in the last election, with a Tory win and the Socialists running second with more people backing them than any other of the other losing parties

The result was a coalition between Tories, a powerful party, and much less powerful Liberals, putting the Socialists into opposition where they adopted the classical role of any opposition by arguing the toss on almost everything the coalition came up with

There is another way which makes a good deal of sense. A coalition between the winning party and the party that comes second

The fact of the matter is that, whilst one party has won, the chances are - based on so many previous elections - almost as much of the electorate will have voted for the losing party as for the winners

A coalition of the winners and the runners up would be as near as we are ever going to get to Proportional Representation as it would mean that the Government, ie the Coalition, would represent the vast majority of the people of the United Kingdom

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Please allow me to register the strongest protest that can be mustered in print at the volume and frequency of the loudspeaker announcements of approaching station halts on our trains to and from London

The crescendo with which they are delivered is wholly and totally unnecessary and could surely be toned down

I appreciate that, with so many Johnny Foreigners now travelling on our public transport systems and the requirement to alert them to alight at their chosen destination, the proven system prevails of shouting at them so that they can understand our language

But is it necessary to shout quite so loudly?

"The next station is Sevenoaks" delivered at the extreme range of the decibel register is hardly conducive to the study of one's Telegraph, and competing as it does with one's neighbour on his mobile telephone apparatus bellowing to some unidentified listener that he is personally about to alight at Sevenoaks, seems somewhat superfluous

Your obedient servant