kenny hodgart

Shouting the odds

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This article appeared in The Herald

Those rather tiresome people who spend their lives extolling the virtues of the internet will tell you that one of its advantages over older media is its interactivity. It’s all very well saying this, of course, but in reality there are few devices more interactive than the telephone. And, though it may be a depressing truth it is one nevertheless that interacting with the television, by shouting it, is among the greatest joys modern life affords.

I myself cannot recall when I started shouting at the television. I do remember, however, taking particular exception to the children’s presenter Andi Peters, whose inane chatter and lisp and daft spelling of his first name made him the most annoying man conceivable. Now, I note, most people on television are like Peters: shouty, noisome and in a permanent state of excitement.

Earlier this month a pensioner named Martin Soloman was sent down for 14 months by Gloucestershire crown court for persistently violating his neighbours’ peace with noisy, foul-mouthed rants at programmes that irritated him. One has sympathy with the neighbours, of course, but we should not be too quick to pass judgment on Mr Soloman, who is, after all, an old sailor, chrissakes.

First of all, the programme makers must shoulder some of the blame for making such knowingly irritating programmes. And secondly it should be noted that the old chap reserved his worst rages for Question Time – which is understandable alone for the way its studio audiences can always be relied on to applaud the most fatuous of points.

Mr Soloman’s case is an extreme one, but shouting at the box is on the whole a rewarding exercise. Like a magnet it draws out the urge to despair at one’s fellow man, leaving only slight feelings of guilt and the resolve to try to be nicer to him.

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