Posts Tagged ‘bbc’

The Internet


Or is it the World Wide Web?  I’ve no idea.

Either way, it’s great.  Isn’t it?


Now, I should declare (rather proudly, like the grumpy old man you know and love) that I do not have a smartphone, but I can now listen to BBC radio wherever I happen to be in the world, provided I lug my laptop (or borrow an iPad) and can find a wi-fi connection.  This, for me, is undoubtedly the single most important thing about the Internet.  Let’s call it that.  The Internet.  No, I mean the World Wide Web.  Somebody, help me out here.

Without it (the WWW, not the BBC), I’d not be able to communicate with you all.  I suppose I could get a job as a journalist, or a writer, or a columnist.  You know, someone who is (hopefully) paid to write; someone who has to get past an editor, (perhaps); someone who has to display a modicum of expertise, with the requisite background reading and/or research.

Hang on.  I just sat down to write something.  Without the comfort of a specific theme or project ( I realised that I had no idea where to go with this.  What you just read is what popped into my mind after I remembered this line:  “[It is] better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”  According to Gooooogle (thanks again, Interweb), this aphorism is usually attributed to Lincoln (Abraham, not City) or Twain (Mark, not Never the … Shall Meet).  Who cares?  It is probably at its most pertinent right now.  Opinions are like arseholes, as that other saying goes.  Everyone’s got one.  The point is, my suspicions have been confirmed.  We are all pretty stupid, and FaceTwitInstaBlogs rather prove the point when they allow us to speak/remove doubt.  Ooooh!  That just reminded me of another favourite, courtesy of George Carlin.


Can you tell, I’m winging it, now?  There is no plan, no theme, no agenda, no purpose, other than the need to scribble some thoughts for my offspring to read in 2037.

Okay, I give in.  I’m reluctant to go there, but these are difficult times.  Worrying times.  Astonishing times.  Let’s jump on the Trumpwagon.  I admit, I knew almost nothing about Trump until a few months ago.  Now, thanks to the wonders of the Webternet, or more specifically Twitter, I can be pretty confident that he is a buffoon.  I’m not sure I have heard him described as such, but I rather like the term.  “A ridiculous but amusing person; a clown.”  I’ve heard comedians and satirist complaining that their job is now much more difficult, because Trump comedy or satire simply writes itself.  Amusing?  No, not really, although the whole Mexico/wall/pay issue has made me laugh more than once.  Genuinely, I couldn’t give a toss about the orange one, but I am terrified by the thought that so many people actually buy into the ravings and ramblings of this clown.  In the same way, I am dismayed that so many Brit’s will happily venture forth to their local newsagent and walk out with a copy of their preferred offering from the vile gutter press.  I cannot even bring myself to name the rags in question.  Whatever.  For me, the PotUSA is not the problem.  Foolishly, I tip-toed into a Facebook debate, soon after the Election, and although I remember little of the detail, I do recall that one (of countless) apologists was ecstatic to declare that x million Americans voted for Trump.  Indeed.  If Wikipedia is to be believed, y million Germans voted for that monster with the dodgy ‘tache in the 1930s, and we all know how that worked out, eh?  Where are we heading?  Step back, for a moment.  Over eight years ago, our American cousins elected Obama.  Even more amazing (to naive little old me) was that they re-elected him four years later.  Absolutely remarkable.  In my life I’ve witnessed the Berlin Wall coming down, the collapse of the Soviet Union, peace in Northern Ireland, Pompey in the FA Cup Final, the British Labour Party having a Socialist leader, Brit’s winning the Tour de France, but ‘mericans electing a black fella?  Twice!  Wow!  Surely, we had entered a new era.

Surely the Trump era is simply a blip, right?  I’d say God help us, but therein lies the problem.  Too many Gods.  Too many beliefs.  Too many faiths.  I’ve always taken what I shall term the analysts’ view… too many people duped into thinking their’s is the One True God.  Ergo they must all be wrong.  Never mind “prayers for [insert name of latest location of terrorist atrocity here]”, just get on and be decent human beings.  Prayers to some mythical being, you know, a being which is slightly at odds with my mythical being, your mythical being or their mythical being, are surely futile.

I need to conclude with a tune.  Just a song I’d like my children to enjoy.  One day.


BBC 6Music – Why Listen to Anything Else?


When I’m not on my bike or asleep or hanging out the washing, it’s pretty certain I’ll be listening to 6Music.  Unless it’s summer, when I could be tuning in to Test Match Special (TMS) or ITV4’s coverage of the Tour de France. (Today is a rest day across the Channel, so 6Music it is.)

I have a DAB radio in the kitchen, one in the living room and one in the bedroom, and I also have a rather nifty piece of kit which allows me to tune in while driving.  No more Ken Bruce or Steve Wright for me, thanks very much.  I know BBC 6Music is billed as a sister station to Radio 2, but it is simply the only music station I can listen to all day, every day, without becoming irritated.  It focuses on the music, not the presenters, although there was a slight glitch a few years back when they employed a clown (somebody Lamb) for a while.  Thankfully, his contract was not renewed and order returned to the digital airwaves.

I missed the first couple of months after the station went live in 2002, but I have rarely missed a day since then.  It’s been both a source of the best new and old music – what I would call ‘proper’ music – and the perfect antidote for the dreadful offerings of all those other stations whose staple is the kind of music which “says nothing to me about my life”.  On 6Music I can hear anything from a twenty minute Genesis track to a slice of Public Enemy via a classic Peel session track or a new release by the likes of Laura Marling or Public Service Broadcasting.  Presenters include current and former musicians (Riley, Robinson, Morgan, Laverne, Matthews, Cocker, et al) alongside seasoned broadcasting professionals (Coe, Maconie, Radcliffe, Lamacq, Collins, among others), but what binds them together is their obvious passion for the music.  There’s also some cutting edge comedy, inasmuch as radio can broadcast the same, in the shape of Jon Holmes and (periodically) Adam and Joe, while the station has also been home to the Russells (Brand and Howard), Jon Richardson, Stephen Merchant, Peter Serafinowicz and others.

I’ve had countless emails read out across the full range of shows and have even chatted with presenters on air on five separate occasions, and while I’m not usually one to self-aggrandize, it does illustrate that the shows are accessible and indicates that the listeners have some level of ownership.  At least, that’s how I feel.  Indeed, a couple of years ago, there was a well-publicised threat of closure hanging over the station, but the suits were persuaded to change their minds, largely as a result of a huge outpouring of love for 6 from the loyal band of listeners.  It also became evident that many of the world’s best musicians supported the campaign to save the station, thus reinforcing its credibility while not simply depending on some sort of vacuous celebrity endorsement to appease the decision makers.

Having loved the station for all these years, I really cannot contemplate life without it.  What I cannot understand is how the wider public at large are still being duped by the manufactured twaddle that is forced upon them by the likes of Cowell through so many unimaginative, formulaic shows on the television.  I’m sure I’m a dreadful music snob, but I really feel for the masses who don’t get to hear the likes of Field Music and Plank ! (to name but two of my favourites) simply because local commercial stations (not to mention other BBC stations) are feeding them a diet of mediocrity; so-called stars having their 15 minutes of fame, while creaming off more millions for men in trousers with high waistbands.  I’d heartily recommend that everyone open their minds and their ears and tune in to sample a little something by Billy Childish or The Fall or Stereolab or Everything Everything or The Smiths or Richard Hawley.  The list goes on.  There’s loads of stuff to try, the vast majority of which you just will not hear anywhere else.

Rather like my passion for pedalling, it’s still something of a fringe interest.  Listener numbers are increasing (as are cyclists), but there’s a long way to go before the ‘mainstream’ label may be applied.  In a way, I’d like both to remain fringe and exclusive, but I can see that a world with many more people sharing my love of proper music and cycling has to be something to be encouraged.

Help me out: try giving at least a week of your life to 6Music and at least a lifetime to giving me some space on the road.  Thanks.



This is another of those stories that seem to crop up all too often.  A cyclist was hit by a motorist and he lost his life.  Seems all the more heartbreaking when it is clear that he had a considerable amount of talent, and although this is not to suggest that the death of a casual cyclist, club cyclist or any other would be less important or noteworthy, it does bring into question the plight of the racing cyclist and the hours s/he needs to spend on the roads in order to reach the standard needed to compete at a high level.

It sounds rather corny, but when will drivers in the UK learn that cyclists are made of flesh and blood and they are no match for a ton or more of steel?  How many more near misses must I endure before I either give up the ride or give up the ghost?

What I’d really like to see is the cycling authorities getting behind a coordinated campaign to raise the profile of cycling safety.  The profile of cycling in the UK is higher now than it has been for many years, probably since the days of Tom Simpson, thanks to the likes of Hoy, Cavendish, Wiggins, Pendleton et al, but the profile of cycling safety is still lagging way behind.  We need the might of British Cycling to invest some time and effort into educating Joe Public about what it takes to become a world class cyclist – namely, thousands and thousands of hours on the road.  Yes, we get to see the high level results of all the training, but the training itself is all but hidden in the media. Okay, those of us who frequent Twitter will have caught glimpses of how Cavendish has been following Rob Hales’s scooter (resplendent in the world champion’s rainbow stripes) as part of his motor pacing regime, but where are the stories of the other top cyclists plying their trade through the rancid gloom of the British winter and beyond?  They make make the cycling press, but these are largely publications produced by and for the ‘enlightened’.  Where are the prime time documentaries? Where are the roadside posters and notices (cf those used to warn motorcyclists of the dangers they face)?  Where are the high profile cycling fans – Alan Sugar and Paul Smith just off the top of my head – who could call in favours from well placed contacts in the media?  Where is the president of British Cycling, Brian Cookson, when it comes to the role of the governing body of the sport?  Is he working with CTT and/or the CTC to develop a joined-up strategy?  What about the BBC, ITV and (especially) Sky?  As cycling becomes more visible through our television screens, isn’t it time that some of the air time is used to explain what it takes to become a racing cyclist?

I’ve written elsewhere about the threats I face every day when I’m on the road, but nobody gives a toss about me.  Nobody will give a toss about me, or any of the thousands of other cyclists out there until cycling itself becomes accepted as a mainstream sport.  It’s difficult to understand how much time and respect drivers allow for horses and their mounts, not least when moments before they have given me zero time, space, respect or understanding.  Evidently, if they hit me, I’ll do considerably less damage to their precious bodywork than a 500kg horse would.

Finally, back to the tragic story of Lewis Balyckyi.  I have no first hand knowledge of this case and can only comment on what has been reported.  Frankly, a cyclist out after dark without lights and in dark clothing is simply asking for trouble, for obvious reasons.  More of a concern is that this kind of (reported) behaviour adds too much fuel to the anti-cycling brigade; we are giving motorists plentiful ammunition.  Not only do we not pay Road Tax (yes, we’ve all heard that one), but we also flout the rules of the road.  We have to be responsible and be seen to be responsible, not give other road users the excuses to justify their own carelessness.  I know that what I do as a cyclist impacts on how drivers view cyclists as a whole.  It may not be cool to have lights, it may be cool to wear black, I don’t know.  I’m about as far from cool as it is possible to reach, but you don’t get bigger legs and win races while laid out on the slab in the morgue.

Oh, and while I’m plugging the anti-cool message, mudguards in the winter are one of the nicest ways of caring about your fellow riders.

Stay safe out there.