Dulltown, Europe: Today’s heraldic term is the verb ‘to marshal’ – to combine two or more coats of arms onto one shield. (Marshal) I tried a bit of marshalling once, but afterwards people said that my shield looked far too messy…
The other morning, it was the morning of one of those pseudo-Sundays that we like to pack in around Christmas and New Year, I was lying in bed thinking very hard about trying to get up when my bedside radio announced that the next programme would be the BBC World Service’s Science Hour.
The show would take us on a visit to the Science Museum in London, and would deal with world-changing inventions of the past; I thought that I would perhaps stay where I was, at least for the first half-hour of the show.
The BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation, (an Australian radio announcer once got in a nice verbal tangle and called it the British Broadcorping Castration… I like that!) is that world-famous organisation that used to be praised for its quality programming and trustworthy news coverage. We, yes, us, the British public, pay for it; we each give it £145.50 a year, supposedly so that we can have good clean TV and radio without any advertising in between programmes. The trouble is that the BBC TV and radio does have plenty of advertising between the programmes, but they are all adverts for the BBC’s own output; they are repeated over and over – it really is most annoying!
But anyway, back to the echoing marble halls and distant yowling school children of the Science Museum. One of the the presenters said that they would be dealing with the invention and subsequent benefits to humanity of: the hypodermic syringe, refrigeration, and the gyroscopic compass. This was right up my street, I like a bit of science now and again. I stretched out, turned on my side, pulled the bedding up around my ears, turned up the volume, and listened. First up was the hypodermic needle – I had often wondered how they managed, back in Victorian times, to make such a thin hollow steel needle. I’m still wondering, the programme didn’t bother explaining that, but I did learn that both of the giggling presenters were not too keen on having injections – oh the joy of dumbed-down BBC radio!
Next up was the invention of refrigeration. I knew that fridges use circulating gases to do the cooling, and I was expecting to learn how this actually worked. I was disappointed, they didn’t bother mentioning that.
Finally those gyroscopic compasses and guidance systems which revolutionised navigation at sea, in the air and even in space. So, how do they manage to get a little fast-spinning wheel to make a compass work and give true direction inside moving vehicles? I still don’t know – somehow they managed to not mention that either…
I expect the BBC feel that they might turn listeners away if they attempt to inform them, or make them think a bit. ‘Hm, no, they’ll switch off in a second if we start going on about how a bloody gyroscope works… Who cares anyway? Let’s just get some bubbly young presenters on and have some science chit-chat, as amusing and light-hearted entertainment… that will drag the kids and teenagers off their phones, their games, and the internet, and back to tuning in to good old BBC radio!…’