Wednesday, 13 August 2014

A Very Good Morning to You


“And a very good evening to you”.  It’s not a phrase anyone uses in real life.  It’s particularly odd when a major BBC TV news bulletin starts with those words, just after we've witnessed dark images of death and destruction around the World.  It’s even odder when those pictures are as truly appalling as they have been in recent weeks.

Why is it a good evening? More to the point, why is it a very good evening?

It’s all very polite, but does it not sound strange? Just like the obsession in radio and TV with ‘thank you’.

Note when newsreaders do their thing and the presenter utters the gratuitous ‘thank you very much, Susanne’. For what exactly?

Why does Susanne enjoy the privilege of being thanked; and not those who sang the songs or made the ads, or those hard-working jingle-singers.  It’s most unfair.  I do find particularly fascinating those who thank the network newsreaders many hundreds of miles away down the line, in the full knowledge that the reader will never hear the fulsome gratitude.  Is it not like writing a thank you letter and ripping it up?

Witness too, those occasions when a studio presenter takes some time to preface an OB report.  They go to pains in the delivery of the cue to describe the background and carefully set the scene for the report.  On TV, that studio presenter even goes to the trouble of half-nodding at the end of the cue, with the head sympathetically on an angle as they anticipate the report unfolding.   At that point, just when the listener or viewer has been taken emotionally into the very heart of the story, the remote presenter breaks the spell and chooses to say a chirpy ‘thank you very much, John’.  For what exactly?  Reading the cue?  Maybe even a cue into which the reporter had considerable input. 

Why whisk the listener away from the place they have been taken, back into the politeness of the English sitting room? Given there’s also likely been a gap for the ISDN line or satellite feed to catch up, the whole thing sounds inordinately pregnant.

Guests have caught on too.  Maybe it’s part of their media training.  ‘This situation has been described as appalling by many consumer.   Fred Farnsbarns is from the trade body.  Fred, people have been seriously injured owing to these problems, what have you got to say about it? “, struts the presenter with theatrical aggression.  Good morning”, responds guest Fred, before pausing; stubbornly determined not to carry on until the grumpy presenter spits out  a reluctant sotto voce ‘good morning’ back.

Callers are almost as bad.  In midst phone-in, at just the opportune moment, a presenter will swiftly turn to a caller for input ‘John, this has happened to you hasn’t it?’, they  query, smiling smugly that they have managed to conduct the orchestra of voluntary contributors so skillfully.  Caller John  then merrily  ignores the question - and just says ‘good morning’ to the presenter.  What’s more, the caller then  proceeds to ask the presenter ‘how are you?’?  This British ‘how are you?’ business is a puzzle to most people from outside our fair Isles.  They correctly observe that neither of the participants in a  Home Counties ‘how are you?’ exchange is remotely interested in each other’s welfare.

Let’s stop saying ‘thank you’, or ‘thank you very much’, or ‘thank you very much indeed’ or ‘thank you very much indeed there’.  Or ‘thank you very much indeed there, Trevor’.  Or ‘good morning’, or ‘good evening’.  Or ‘a very good morning’.  It usually isn’t. 

If we stop, maybe callers and guests will swiftly catch on and we can all be as naturally rude to each other as we are in real life and save an awful lot of time.  And not appear weird when we describe the most atrocious sights this Century as being part of a good evening.


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1 comment:

  1. I don't mind 'good evening' (or 'good morning') but 'good evening/morning TO YOU' sounds like an order rather than a greeting... especially on the lips of certain unnamed radio and television presenters!

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