Friday, 26th May, 2023

[Day 1166]

Today dawned as a beautiful bright and sunny day and we were looking forward to the day ahead. First of all, our domestic help arrived and we always enjoy a chat and a catch up on the week’s news. We discussed with her one or two lighting changes we had made to our sitting room where we decided to relocate one of our good floor-standing lights and discussed some other options for some supplementary lighting where we might need it. We finally made it to Waitrose for our coffee and here we met with one of pre-pandemic friends that we normally meet up on Tuesdays but she had beeen prevented from visiting us on that day. Eventually, our University of Birmingham friend showed up and we were delighted to share with him some of the events of the week as well as discussing some oher ventures that we might make in common. It was decided that our friend would come and share in our lunch which, as it was a fish pie, was easily extendable from two portions into three. As well as broccoli, I also made a special mixture of vegetables which started off as a diced onion and a diced pepper and was then enhanced with some plum tomatoes cut sideways, a dollop of pasta sauce and finally some tomatoe purée which added a little bit of zest. We finished off with some ‘real’ ice cream which we ate outside in the garden as the kitchen where we ate was a smidgeon too warm for us. We finished off with some coffee in the lounge and then spent some time comparing the routines in which we engaged during our afternoons and evenings. I have a feeling that after the 7.00pm news on Channel 4 and before the more serious and entertaining programmes start at 9.00pm, the programme makers do not lavish too much attention to the offerings that they put before us between 8.00pm-9.00pm as they are putting their children to bed.

I read a couple of items in The Times the other day which gave me pause for thought. It was that that both BBC Radio 4 and also ClassicFM were losing listeners at quite a rapid rate. This even extended to the classic Today program which has traditionally been listened to by millions of people as they get themselves up in the morning. It always contains really up-to-date political news and tries to present a topical but analytical approach to the forthcoming day’s news. The explanation for Radio 4 in the columnist that I read was arguing that Radio 4 was losing listeners because it was constantly ‘preaching’ at them and people resented this high-handed approach from the BBC. I cannot say that I have ever noticed any of this and my criticism of Radio 4 is that it occasionally fails to land the appopriate punches on the politicians of the day and sometimes lets them get away with murder, so to speak. On the occasions that the BBC does try to pursue a more aggressive approach e.g by suggesting that the politician is failing to answer the question and tries to get them to answer the question that is asked instead of getting an evasive answer, it then gets pilloried by other parts of the right wing media who go ahead to accuse the BBC of a left wing bias. But I think the explanations for the relative demise of both of hese radio channels is more prosaic. I suspect that the audience for both of these programmes is predominantly middle aged and older and, I suspect, is more appealing to middle class than to working class audiences. What I think is happening is the impact of demography where the audience is ageing and eventually dying off and failing to attract the commensurate numbers of a younger audience to compensate. Hence, I think that the changes in audience may not not be so much members of the audience switching off and turning to other channels but failing to switch on in the first place as the age profile of the channel ages with time. No doubt, this question could be answered by more detailed audience research but I find the news about the relative decline of these two radio channels depressing as I listen to them both almost exclusively throughout the day.

In the late afternoon, we received a much anticipated telephone call from a bank which we had expected to get some details finally in place for the transactions which my son and I have been conducting. We need to get everything done by the end of the month which is, of course, next Wednesday but the third Bank Holiday of the month intervenes on Monday and this is cutting the number of days by one and the end of the month is rapidly approaching. But the member of the Bank who my son and I know quite well (and we have even got the personal telephone number) gave us the reassurances that we were seeking that all of the necessary arrangements were in place and all we had to do was to sit tight and wait. Moreeover, she promised a further telephone call to us next week to reassure us that all was well so we started to feel relaxed and a little more at peace with the world.