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.  

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