Category Archives: bbc

31 Jan

Talk is not cheap

It’s not a good idea to talk a lot, for by so doing you give too much away. By talking at length, we reveal what matters most to us: our interests, preoccupations, aspirations and fears. It’s simple: what you choose to talk about lets your listeners know who you really are, your most serious concerns, your principles and priorities.

Now, as well as individual, personal talkers there are corporate talkers in which professional talkers are paid for what they talk about. One of the biggest and best-known corporate talkers in the world is the BBC which organises talking shops day and night on four continents. There the professional talkers can talk about whatever they fancy. And they are well-supplied with talk-gatherers or, as they prefer to be described, news-gatherers. I can’t possibly mention all the things that the BBC talkers talk about because there’s so much of it and the airwaves are alive with the sound of jabber. What I can do is make a sample, one day in the life of BBC folk. But even that is too much to handle, so let me just take eleven minutes. To make my sample representative, I must choose not any old eleven minutes when they might be talking about the misdoings of celebs or the football transfer deadline – as they often are, of course.

Then let me choose a really significant eleven minutes “slot,” as they say at the Beeb. Say the opening eleven minutes of PM, Radio Four’s main early evening news and comment programme – will that do?

Yesterday the professional talkers were not short of things to talk about. There was the ever more precipitous crisis over Mrs May’s leadership. The peers crowding into the House of Lord for the big debate in which they would queue up to undermine Brexit. The continued slaughter in Yemen. Fifty million quidsworth of cocaine intercepted by the Customs. A catastrophic volcanic eruption in the Philippines. Paris under water. Hundred killed in bombings by the resurgent Taliban in Kabul. The announcement of the EU commissioners’ terms on which they are prepared to let us – sort of – leave: commonly referred to as the humiliation of Theresa May, chapter seventeen. Armed troops on the streets of Swedish cities to try to prevent yet more gang rapes and grenade-throwing by thousands of immigrants. Iran’s steady progress in its soon-to-be-realised ambition to acquire nuclear weapons.

Which of these would the BBC’s professional talkers choose to lead with? Which of these subjects would they choose to pontificate upon from their customary high moral ground? Whom or what would they pick on as this evening’s principal beneficiary of the BBC’s famous lack of bias?

Answer: none of the above. Instead, they discussed – with the high seriousness that might be reserved for news of a sudden pandemic of the Black Death – the perceived disparity between the wages paid to male BBC talkers and female BBC talkers.

The world may be falling apart at the seams but the highly-paid BBC talkers preferred to talk first about themselves – for that full eleven minutes.

Tells us all we need to know about the true priorities of that most high-minded Corporation.  

16 Dec

Musical Treacle

I don’t know why I put myself through it. Why do I never learn? I suppose it must be some fugitive spirit of optimism in me which makes me persist when, in the words of G.K. Chesterton, I ought to “chuck it.”

I was at it again last evening. I switched on Radio Three’s teatime music programme. No music – only “studio guests” and “celebs” gushing more soft soap at one another than you could find in Widow Twanky’s laundry. That was my first mistake. The second was even more irretrievable: I switched over to Classic FM where they played one after another late Romantic rhapsodies of such treacliness that they reminded me of one critic’s comment on Tosca as “…the opera in which Puccini’s music achieves its final putrescence.” I was listening to the programme on television and throughout the screen bore a legend which purported to describe for me what I was listening to:

“Sublime, relaxing music to ease the stresses and strains of the day.”

Obviously, I had been mistaken. I had switched on in the hope of hearing some music, but what we were being offered was a short course in psychotherapy. And it was offensive in the extreme.

The word “sublime” does not indicate a palliative nor is it “relaxing.” Edmund Burke in his Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) writes:

“The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature is astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other.”

Examples of the sublime would include Jacob’s exclamation, “How dreadful is this place!” (Genesis 28:17) and God’s words to Moses at the burning bush, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the ground whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).

Think of The Tempest and “Be not affeared, the isle is full of noises” Or, “What are the roots that clutch? What branches grow out of this stony rubbish?”

Think Bach and the Sanctus from the Mass in B-minor. Or the last movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony when the chord of C-major finally emerges, blazing out of all that jumble. (He gets it from the Bible and Haydn: “Let there be light!”)

One man asks for bread and is given a stone.

When we switch on a music programme we hope for inspiration, to be exhilarated and, from time to time, overawed. Instead Classic FM gives us a box of sickly bon-bons.

Thank God for CDs and YouTube

02 Dec

Let’s hear it for the Barnsley Dame!

Woman’s Hour is the show that just keeps on delivering. Regular readers of this space will know that I have written before about this superb programme. Really, it is so good that I wonder I bother to write about anything else. Truth be told, as a satirist I envy the makers and presenters of Woman’s Hour because its daily straight-faced parody of reality is unsurpassable. They are supreme satirists without knowing it. Their feminist obsessions are more hilarious than anything we find in Viz or Private Eye. Great wits such as Rod Liddle and Craig Brown pale by comparison.

The gels on Woman’s Hour are so feministically monomaniac that they couldn’t bake a tray of jam tarts without a reference to HRT

But yesterday the ladies excelled even their own high standards in the business of making unintended jokes.

They were scheduled to interview two guests  – wimmin, naturally. One was a Japanese doctor acclaimed for promoting the safety of the HPV vaccine. The other was a Vietnamese film-maker, in Britain for the opening of her retrospective at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Unfortunately the producer mixed up the two guest gels Dr Riko Muranaka and Trinh T. Minh-ha.

The illustrious Dame Jenni Murray began by explaining that Dr Muranaka is the recipient of this year’s John Maddox Prize for promoting science on a matter of public interest, The Great Barnsley Interlocutor asked her guest:

“Riko, why did you pursue this subject?”

The pause that followed was of such heavenly length that I was reminded of that verse in The Book of Revelation which speaks of a silence in the celestial realms “of about half an hour.” 

Give the Great Dame credit for knowing that when you’re in a hole the thing to do is to continue digging. Diligently, she enquired a second time:

“Why did you pursue this subject?”

“Which subject are you pointing to?” asked a perplexed Trinh T. Minh-ha

An unaccustomed hint of tension crept into Jenni’s usual velvety intonation:

“The subject of the HPV vaccine and the twenty articles you wrote about it,”

“It’s not me,” said Trin T. Minh-ha quietly.

Jenni did not, as I believe they say in Barnsley, immediately twig. 

“I’m sorry?” she repeated, and this time with more tension than in a whole spasm of PMT – a subject by no means alien to the gels on WH.

“It’s not me,” Trinh T Minh-ha repeated, emitting a spectacularly nervous giggle: 

“I guess you got the wrong speaker.”

Now there was chastisement in Jenni’s voice. Didn’t the guest gel know her own name!

“You are Dr Riko Muranaka?”  

Of a sudden it dawned that her usual omniscience had failed her:

“You’re not Dr Riko Muranaka,” almost meekly.

“I’m Trinh T Minh-ha, the film-maker,” said Trinh T Minh-ha the film-maker.

Unfortunately, – apart from a now irascible Dame Jenni’s blaming “someone” else for the mix-up – that was the end of the morning’s entertainment.

It would have been priceless if Trin T. Minh-ha had gathered her own satirical wits and joined in the fun. What if she had said, “Yes, I wrote those twenty articles and I’m here to tell you that millions will die from taking that drug”?

Dame Jenny would be sure to fall for it, gleefully imagining she had a scoop, an exposure and a scandal.

Never mind gels: I’ll see you on today’s WH Saturday Edition for more jam tarts and HRT.  

04 Nov

The Ladies Misbehaving

Michael White is that rare – perhaps unique? – thing: a lefty with a sense of humour. His political articles and sketches in The Guardian have been making me laugh for decades. But this week Michael was not joking.

He was a guest on BBC Radio Four’s The Media Show, hosted by Andrea Catherwood and of course the subject was the “inappropriate behaviour” of the naughty MPs and so many others that Andrea wondered if to our concept of institutional racism we should add  institutional sexual misbehaviour. This was when Michael roughly interfered with the feminist, politically-correct prejudices of the BBC.

He said that inappropriate sexual behaviour was not exclusive to men but that “Clever, attractive young women can play the power game too.”

Outrage was swift and violent. Andrea expostulated – which is a polite way of saying she went into full bollocking mode: “D’you mean to say these women are at fault?”

Good grief! Didn’t Michael understand that he was talking on the BBC where it is an article of the severest dogma that women can never be at fault?

No, he didn’t understand or, brave man, he didn’t care. He said, “I’m going further than that. I’m saying women too can be predators.”

He spoke the truth – however unacceptable to the politically-correct establishment. We were given an example only this week of a woman prominent in society exhibiting inappropriate sexual behaviour. Kenneth Branagh reported that Dame Judi Dench had exposed herself to him backstage. Poor Ken, I understand he’s still receiving counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder!

Moreover, Michael didn’t merely speak the truth: he spoke the universal truth that there have always been women sexual predators. I don’t suppose they read the Bible much at the Beeb, but they might make a start with the story of those two randy young tarts the daughters of Lot who got their father drunk and took advantage of him: “And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine and we will lie with him” (Genesis 19: 31-32).

Well, if they haven’t read the Bible, surely they have glanced at bits of bawd in Chaucer and Shakespeare – to say nothing of the misconduct of some of the Borgia ladies. I won’t get on to the psychopathic predations of such as Rosemary west and Myra Hindley.

Even nice girls have been known to lay hands unseemly on men and boys

My first job out of school was in a textiles warehouse in Leeds. My bosses wanted me to gain experience and advancement in the trade, so they sent me on a week’s course to the cotton mill in Barrowford, near Nelson in Lancashire. Here I came across a most unladylike custom. When a new lad, aged fifteen, started at the mill, the girls would leave their looms and shuttles, womanhandle him into the ladies and black his balls with boot polish.

I rush to add that I don’t think even Andrea Leadsome in all her fury at Michael Fallon would have bent so low as to smear the former defence secretary’s scrotum with a coating of Cherry Blossom

Quite posh girls have been known to misbehave. In my late teens I worked in the stats office at the Ministry of Labour. In those days before computers, all official letters and documents were typed by young women specially employed for the task. I would be sent down from the third floor to the typing pool on the first floor, there to enter on a scene so intimidating I nearly dropped my documents and ran straight back up the staircase, In the scented haze, thirty or forty miniskirted nubile females sat at desks in ranks. When a man opened the door, the clattering keys would cease and the timorous visitor, if he was a handsome – or even a passable – man would be ogled and whistled at.

At my theological college I quickly learned to heed a word of warning concerning the lecherous assistant cook and housemaid, “Don’t let yourself get talked into shelling peas with Celia!”

Sexual misconduct has always gone on and it always will even if Mrs May  passes a Bill for the Abolition of Original Sin. So let’s ditch the shock and mock horror and get on with the serious business of running the country.

I am just a little concerned to know whether Michael White got out of that BBC studio alive 

22 Sep

Spare a thought for the BBC

I sympathise with the writers and performers of W1A, the BBC comedy drama which has just begun its third series. W1A is advertised as a satire on the BBC itself

This is an impossibility, for the BBC is beyond satire. How would you go about satirising a Corporation…

Whose economics and political presenters constantly bash the bankers and other fat cats but then pay some of the trashiest of their own staff hundreds of thousands of pounds?

Whose charter obliges it to “inform and educate” but which bans all discussion – a necessary part of informing and educating – of important subjects such as climate change?

Which is charged to be impartial but which blatantly and relentlessly takes sides on key issues – for example, its editors’ and presenters’ opposition to Brexit? (It was a BBC man himself who, on the morning after the referendum result, said he couldn’t find a single member of staff in Broadcasting House or the Television Centre in favour of Leave).

Which earns £billions from the worldwide commercial sales of its programmes and yet demands a massive annual subsidy through the universal tax misleadingly described as a “licence”?

Which announced the channel BBC Four with the slogan “a place to think” – and yet fills every Friday evening/night with six hours of rock music?

Which is staffed by illiterate presenters who say such as “I’m sat…I’m stood”; “Deteriate”; “Mitigate against”; “refute” (for “repudiate”) etc ad nauseam.

Whose same presenters are emotionally incontinent and whose standard question is about feeling – for instance, “How did you feel when your mother died in that house fire?”

Besides, why is the BBC presenting yet another satirical show, W1A, when it already broadcasts so many other programmes which can only be described as satires, such as Strictly Come Dancing; Mrs Brown’s Boys;  Woman’s Hour; Songs of Praise; Celebrity Money for Nothing; The Andrew Marr Show; The Today Programme and anything fronted by Lucy Worsley?

23 Jul

England, Our England

Anyone for pizza and porn?

A visitor arriving in England for the first time and looking for a brief introduction to the life and times of the natives could hardly do better than listen to a seven minutes news summary on a national radio network. I listened this morning to the seven o’clock news on Radio Four. Here is a summary of the contents…

Something called “gender re-assignment” is henceforth to be permissible without your having to get a doctor’s note to say you’re suffering from gender dysphoria – which my dictionary defines as “a state of general unease or dissatisfaction with one’s life.”

Homosexuals and “sex-workers” are to be allowed to donate blood, so long as they promise they have abstained from sex for three months. (They used to have to wait for a whole year). I couldn’t help thinking that a prostitute who hadn’t plied her/his/their trade for three months must be rather on her/his/their uppers, and surely in no state to give of her/his/their blood. Will the blood-donating homos and prostitutes also be required to promise they’re telling the truth about their sex lives?

On the twentieth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, her sons the princes William and Harry have been offering their recollections of her. Harry said. “She was wonderful and she said we could be as naughty as we liked – only not to get caught.”

Forty left wing – there is no other variety – women presenters at the BBC – the sort who come on the air waves every day to excoriate Tories and fat cats – have written a letter to the director general complaining that some of them earn as little as £150,000pa

A little boy is gravely ill at St Ormond Street hospital and his sad case has been all over the papers for weeks. The hospital authorities claim that to offer the poor mite further treatment would not be in his best interests. The mob has taken to abusing doctors and the nursing staff on the street and over “social media.”

In a rather infelicitous phrase, the newsreader said that the TV programme Love Island is “coming to its climax.” For non-devotees, Love Island is the latest nuts ‘n’ sluts show in which good looking young people are paid to have sex on camera.

So there – courtesy of BBC News – is a brief introduction to what’s going on in England today.

In their decline, the Romans went in for bread and circuses. For us it’s pizza and porn.

As a sort of Thought for the Day, I end my summary report with a text:

“Full publicity is given where shame would be appropriate; close secrecy is imposed where praise would be in order. Decency is veiled from sight; indecency is exposed to view. Scenes of evil attract packed audiences; good words scarcely find any listeners. It is as if purity should provoke a blush and corruption give grounds for pride.” – “City of God” by St Augustine (AD 354-430)

04 Apr

The mellifluous regiment

I’ve taken to listening to Woman’s Hour, because its presenters have such agreeable voices. But why do they harp only on one subject – women? Is that really all they’re interested in? Most of the real women I know – not the politicised BBC types – are interested in all manner of subjects. I think they should rename the programme Feminist Solipsism Hour. Are men interested only in men? I don’t think so, and I know I’m not: I’m interested in women for a start. But Woman’s Hour is a study in monomania. They are in thrall to the ideology of antisexism.

They are interested in politics, up to a point, but not much beyond the suffragists. English Literature consists of the Brontes, George Eliot, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Maria Edgeworth and Doris Lessing. If they talk about music on the programme, it has to be about Clara Schumann or Fanny Mendelssohn. Though, credit where it’s due, they did once do a feature about the astounding Hildegaard of Bingen who ranks several notches higher than Clara and Fanny. They will talk about Florence Nightingale, though they prefer Mary Seacole because this gives them opportunity to indulge their subsidiary ideology, antiracism.

They remind me of the mystical communists who look forward to their atheistic version of the end times: the punishment of the capitalists and the dawn of the communist utopia. They are panting for their own wimmin’s paradise: that great and glorious day when all women will be hod-carriers on building sites – stripped to the waist? – and whistled at by brawny men sitting on the pavements and engrossed in their needlepoint. Progress has been made towards this feminist parousia, but there is still a lot of work to be done and women need to show tireless vigilance.

Still, they regularly give thanks for past successes, milestones on the road to utopia. For example, the other day, the script went something like this: “D’you remember the bad old days and the Ladybird learning to read books featuring Peter and Jane? Jane was always in the kitchen helping mummy and Peter was out in the street washing the car with his dad?”

They can hardly contain their scorn for a bygone age when things were so cliched and unliberated.

But here I draw the line, girls. Here I object. For however much times have changed between the era of Peter and Jane and our wonderfully progressed and emancipated age, that picture of boys washing cars and girls making jam tarts was actually how things were fifty years ago.

Again we notice their resemblance to communists in their fixation on rewriting history.

What damage would be wreaked on the historical tomes if they were to be consistent and insist on role-reversal in ancient Rome: Priscilla would have to be portrayed as an apprentice charioteer and Markus a trainee vestal virgin.

Ladies, you may work to change the present and the future to your hearts’ content. But leave the past alone. It was what it was, for better or worse.

I shall still listen though. As I say, they have such mellifluous voices. That Jenni Murray, for example: you’d never think she comes from Barnsley. 

09 Feb

In praise of Oik Telly

Three cheers for James Purnell, director of strategy at the BBC. He has just announced that “Civilisations,” a new version of cultural history to succeed Kenneth Clark’s original “Civilisation” series of 1969, will, along with all new documentaries programmed by the BBC, be “the opposite” of Clark’s monstrously “elitist” production.

I’m only sorry that the wonderfully egalitarian Mr Purnell fell short of calling the new series by a title more suitable for the emancipated and enlightened age we now live in. He should have been brave and called the series “Barbarism.” But, as they say, brave new world was not built in a day, and I am grateful that Mr Purnell has dared to go as far as he has along the road to pure oikism.

The disgusting patrician Clark – Order of Merit, Companion of Honour, Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath and Fellow of the British Academy – is sure to be surpassed by the presenter of the new series who, according to Mr Purnell, will be “a trusted friend” who will deliver “expertise without elitism.”

I’m all for it: let’s hear it for mediocratism!

Even after 48 years, I can still hear Clark’s disgraceful voice, speaking with sickening mellifluousness in grammatical English – in whole sentences, for heaven’s sake! Our new version will feature the iconic demotic of our democratised times innit, like, dropped aitches and t’s, “their” for the, like, sexist “his” and “her,” and as many sentences – though of course these will not be sentences – as possible starting with “So…”

I recall also Clark’s initial reluctance to produce a book of his series, “…because it would have to be without the classical music on the original soundtrack.”

“Classical music”! I ask you – did ever a man so completely condemn himself out of his own mouth?

Purcell, Byrd, Bach, Tallis, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven: the 1969 series was full of such class-ridden rubbish. This was made worse by Clark’s misplaced and undemocratic admiration for so-called “Great Masters”: Giotto, Leonardo, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and similar trash. I’ll have you know, Kenneth Clark, your vile era of deference to “masters” is long gone.

The new series will feature the art of the people and its comrade multi-millionaires such as Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and that other hero of our thoroughly-democratised art who fashioned an installation of the siege of Troy on an exquisite pile of (real, his own) shit.

And there will be no problem with the music. How could there be when we have to hand myriads of downloads of David Bowie, Queen, Eminem, Michael Jackson and the sumptuously adenoidal narcissist, St Bob Dylan?

Our new remake will accomplish a total revolution, amounting to an utter repudiation of the repressive “values” of the original. In that old version there was credulous and mawkish piety in the depiction of St Augustine of Hippo, St Benedict, Erasmus, Martin Luther and other devotees of the primitive and superstitious era of so called “Christendom.” We shall present true heroes of modernity and of the people: Marx, Engels, Lenin Stalin, Mao – with a special section on their greatest prophet Eric Hobsbawm.

All together now, let’s join in a thanksgiving chorus of John Lennon’s great hymn of heroically blasphemous praise: Imagine

31 Dec

Dear Arthur…

An open letter to my teacher and friend Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

Dear Arthur,

I don’t know whether you’ll be able to read this – or,. as today’s quaint phrase has it, “access this” – where you are. And, of course, I don’t know where you are or even if you are. In your great work Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, you drummed it into us that the secret of life is to extinguish the relentlessly insistent will – including the will to live. So perhaps you don’t want to be anywhere. I can’t quite get my head around this. (Another of our irritating modern phrases). You wouldn’t like it here. That incoherent upstart Karl Marx, who was only just getting going in your day, has been tremendously influential all over the world: even so-called “conservative” governments pursue socialist policies these days.

But really I want to tell you about something else. In Britain today there is a national organisation, paid for out of taxation and called the BBC, which tells us what to think and which things to regard as valuable politically, ethically and aesthetically. It doesn’t use books or newspapers to achieve this. Instead every home has a device which enables families to hear, and even see, the BBC propaganda. (I know you will find this far-fetched, but it’s true) The BBC is particularly keen on three things: that we should all be socialists and like crap – excuse my language – “music” and celebrate dead nihilists.

A very rare occurrence: you, dear Arthur, got a mention on the BBC yesterday. It was like this…

There is a feature on the BBC called A Good Read in which celebrities – usually ones who know nothing about literature – talk about the books they are reading. Yesterday, one of the participants mentioned a book by a psycho-thoroughpissed. (It was about death, so I thought you would be interested). The participant was impressed by this book and he praised the thoroughpissed author in  words such as the following, (I paraphrase, but here’s the substance of what he said):

“This is a wonderfully interesting book. The author writes about philosophers such as Nietzsche (worth reading, Arthur) and Sartre (a nihilistic narcissist and not worth reading) and…Schopenhauer. He provides a superb three pages summary of Schopenhauer’s writings. It might encourage you to go on and read Schopenhauer for yourself. But you don’t have to read him: these three pages are adequate in themselves for an understanding of him.”

So, Arthur, finally I come to my reason for writing. I want to apologise. You see, the BBC is not only full of socialists with bad taste in music, it is also – to use another of our tiresome modern expressions, irretrievably “dumbed down.” The very idea – the offence! – that your many thousands of penetrating and entertaining insights in Die Welt  and Parerga und Paralipomena can be distilled into three pages written by a throughpissed is a travesty and an insult.

So, wherever (or if) you are, please accept my renewed thanks for all your glorious works and my embarrassed apology. For I know you won’t get an apology from the BBC. There the philistines are proud of their ignorance and casual in their rudeness

With the best will in the world, I am your devoted pupil and friend


30 Aug

Beethoven’s Funk

My first meeting some fifteen years ago with a man who is now among my closest friends ended up in a triple-forte row. Over supper in the restaurant, I mentioned that I had just bought Andras Schiff’s recordings of all the Mozart piano sonatas. My friend, who shall remain nameless – but who’s name actually is Alexander Boot – a man with a well-tuned ear for the apt phrase – said, “I call him Andras S**t!”

He was right. I hardly played the recordings and last year i gave them away. I feel rather guilty about giving them to someone else, feeling it’s a bit like serving your pal a piece of dodgy pork.

Well, I must be a glutton – not for dodgy pork, but for punishment. For last evening I switched on the wireless to listen to Schiff – now Sir Andras – conduct the excellent Leipzig Gewandhaus in a performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony at the Proms. The Leipzig musicians played with their usual clarity and tone: but what they had to play, how they were directed to play was an atrocity. I have never heard anything so palpably awful since a performance of Mahler’s Second by James Loughran in the Free Trade Hall in 1975.

That Schiff could do such dirt on Beethoven’s Seventh, one of the liveliest symphonies in the repertoire! It dragged along like a lump of dead meat.

But you know how you do: I persevered, hoping for it to get better. Surely in the presto scherzo he would liven up a bit? No. Not in the allegro con brio finale either – the movement which Nietzsche extolled as “the apotheosis of the dance.” Last night it was more like the apotheosis of lumbago. To say it was spiritless would be to insult all the shades in the graveyard.

Beethoven’s first two symphonies are conventional 18th century style pieces recalling Haydn. (Characteristically, Beethoven, having had lessons from Haydn, claimed he learnt nothing from him. Yes, well, even Homer nods now and then. But the third, The Eroica burst into the world like an exploding galaxy. Music was never the same again. Beethoven seemed – yes, even Beethoven – to need a period of recovery after The Eroica and indeed the fourth is a fairly conventional affair – and no worse for that, by the way. Then he’s back to being a whirling dervish again in the tearaway fifth: that dazzling C-major chord which erupts towards the climax of the last movement…well, it’s what he heard in Haydn’s The Creation, isn’t it? The revelatory “Let there be light!” after the representation of chaos.

The old man needed a breather again and he takes it in the leisurely pastorale of his sixth. Only then does he feel ready to hurl the seventh at us. Another breather in the (almost) dainty precision of the little eighth; before the desert storm of the ninth.

How could Sir Andras perpetrate such an affront to Ludwig van? He made even the costive lushness of Karajan sound spritely. I could have done with a dose of Furtwangler or Leonard Bernstein.

Did Sir Andras get his knighthood for rescuing stray dogs, or what?

(I hope Mr Boot doesn’t mind my telling you this. But you were right, Alex. By hell you were right!)