Thursday, 24 March 2011

I have bad memories of the Budget - but I know how to liven it up!

I watched the Budget on TV yesterday. It brought back some truly horrible memories of the occasion I was in charge of the team which produces the live information straps along the bottom of the screen during the Chancellor’s speech (CRAP rating levy slashed to 13.75% by 2018 - that sort of thing).

Not a great job at the best of times, but made even worse on this occasion by having a number of seemingly deranged people shrieking in my earpiece throughout the exercise. 

I got through 50 minutes of sheer awfulness  by imaging some alternative messages we might stick up on the screen - Please make this horrid man stop...What is he rambling on about now?...On the whole I’d rather be in Scunthorpe...Does anyone watching this feel as miserable as I do?...Why does he do that thing with his mouth?...A tax nobody understands is to be increased by a meaningless percentage...Why does this demented cow keep screaming in  my ear? Stuff like that.

Two years later, having escaped Westminster, I attended a meeting about how the red button might be used to create a truly memorable alternative interactive TV viewing experience: I think the front runner was an alternative video stream featuring a number of economic experts giving instant interpretations of what was being announced.

Now, I was very busy around that time, and might not have been paying sufficient attention beforehand - but I had a sudden revelation during the meeting that what we were proposing was utterly futile! 

I mean - who in the name of all that’s holy would want to watch, or listen to, a bunch of hard-core economists burbling away during the Budget (including other hardcore economists) while the damned thing was taking place? Or, for that matter, after it was all over? As I listened to a member of my team  describe what we could deliver, I realised, with stunning clarity, that the only thing any viewer might derive any pleasure from during a budget debate would be a stream of sarcastic or outraged comments running along the bottom of the screen. You could choose from an onscreen  menu offering: “London Cabbie”, “Polly Toynbee”, “Coping Class Father”, “Manual Labourer”,  “Right-Wing Ranter”, “Trotskyist Student”, “Green Campaigner” or “Pot Luck” (a random mixture of all of them).  It would be relatively cheap and easy to deliver and would probably double the audience at a stroke by making the whole viewing experience bearable.

Yesterday’s “Ranting Right-Winger” ticker would have included the following observations: “Where are all these cuts you promised us?... Why does Osbourne keep coughing - someone hand him a packet of Tunes... God, I’d love to bitch-slap that smirk off Clegg’s face... Mind you, at least it isn’t some autistic Scot droning on... Why should I subsidise water bills for bone-idle sheep-shaggers in the South-West?... We need to cut all subsidies to Northern dumps - not increase them!... Carbon tax? What a bloody waste!... A penny off petrol taxes? Gee thanks, Santa!...  More tax on cigarettes - that’s original!... If you want growth, cut taxes, you fool!... Why the hell are you funding another war when you’ve just destroyed our armed forces, idiot!...

Anyway, you get the drift.

I’d be happy to supply the content - for free!


  1. I don't know where you managed to find the required self-discipline. The temptation to add completely spurious straplines would have been irresistible to lesser men.

    " 'Ramsey's Pork Scratchings school meals plan spot on' says Teachers Chief". "Bono in 'I'm an Arse' confession". "'JFK really not that good' historian in Democrat stoning ambush imbroglio". "'Cure for baldness as likely as stepping in rocking horse shit' says man with a full head of hair".

    This all comes into the category of Things I'll Do on my Last Day at Work.
    Saturday, March 26, 2011 - 02:50 PM

  2. I expect the self-discipline was provided by the need to pay off a mortgage. Do correct me if I’m wrong, but I bet I’m not.

    I had lots of things lined up for my last day at my last job – but intentions get swamped by the sheer pleasure of contemplating all the awful things you won’t have to do ever again and the awful people you’ll never have to deal with ever again. I love the bit between finishing at one place and starting at another…it really is glad, confident morning again…for a little while, at least.
    Sunday, March 27, 2011 - 03:13 PM