I’m not interested in what the public thinks. Nobody is—not even the public.
image by Grant Gilliland / www.seegrantdraw.com
Imagine this. You are driving along following a reasonably successful holiday—or at least a not-wholly-disastrous change of scene. To your unfolding amazement, the road is clear: no road “work” and no congestion. You have put aside your macro anxieties—war, climate change, U.K. tabloid queen Katie Price—and you are likewise enjoying rare psychological respite from those of a more personal nature: hair, weight, the staggering tedium of your life thus far.
You are not required to make any decisions, there are no strangers in view whom you find attractive, and there is nothing to spend your money on or to remind you that you haven’t got any. In other words, you are happy.
Thus, foolishly buoyed, you reach for the radio hoping for a program worth a sentient adult’s time, and the very first thing you hear is the presenter’s voice saying: “With regard to the global economy, Andy from Cheadle has e-mailed the program to say he thinks that . . .” Blocking the irritation, you switch stations. Another presenter with a different accent seems to be finishing a discussion about Israel and Palestine but, just as you settle back, she says: “Lindsay from Wrexham has texted in to say . . .”
Now the fury surges. Recklessly, you dial through as many stations as there are frequencies, but it’s always the same: “Sandy has gotten in touch to say that everyone knows Afghanistan is really all about . . .”; “Alison from Woodbridge has tweeted that she is in favor of vaccinations but that her doctor is on holiday so . . .”; “Nigel in Hyde is listening while he gets dressed and wonders why, when it comes to the polar ice caps, there can’t be more people like Jeremy Clarkson since . . .”
And so the rage takes full flame and your brief happiness is destroyed. As the traffic comes to a halt, you realize (once again) that you must either endure the misery of millions of atrociously ill-informed opinions or sit in a solitary silence that is filled only with a feverish internalized loathing for your fellow citizens. At home it is the same. All genres of television now contain an abysmal segment during which the anchor or host reads out a series of inane views from variously mad people with an inexplicable surplus of time and self-regard. And then reminds you that you can find more of the same at the commensurate website, on which you are urged to “join the debate” (debate!) with MilesofSmiles and MrLunchBox and Hg5Ylo and Gandalf.
Well, in my world, all of this would stop.
I don’t care what Andy from Cheadle thinks about the Gaza Strip, the ice caps, Manchester City, or even Cheadle. Nobody cares. Nobody except Andy, and presumably he already knows. When I turn on the radio or the television, or when I open a book or a newspaper, what I want is an expert. I want insightful commentary. I want stylistic elegance. I want eloquence. I want uninterrupted expertise.