Last night, viewers in the Anglia region were treated to a programme called Bygones, in which presenter Eddie Anderson met a man who collected ceramic railway telegraph insulators. The chap was allowed to explain his obsession in some detail, while Anderson appeared genuinely interested in what he had to say.
Although ceramic railway telegraph insulators aren't my bag, it was refreshing and heart-warming to see an out-and-proud anorak presented on TV without masses of ironic detachment and 'ha, look at this sad wanker'-type sneering. The modern media has a 'too cool for school' wariness when it comes to enthusiasts, but all too often relies on them to do its research for free. In a recent survey, it was discovered that 98.7% of all modern TV documentary makers regard Wikipedia (which, apart from the libellous bits about Bryan McFadden, is the province of altruistic anoraks) as a primary source. Meanwhile, I've lost count of the number of times that friends in the archive TV collecting world have been contacted by 'we're so good at telly' pisspots who expect them to reveal all they know in exchange for a pat on the head, a complete and utter lack of understanding of any material thus supplied and a credit that's going to be squeezed to oblivion and talked over anyway.
It's not just the media. In general, modern Britain seems to have a bias against knowledge. Anyone who actually knows anything is instantly categorised as Rain Man. All too often, when someone asks an arcane question about cultural ephemera in my presence, I find myself feigning vagueness and replying with another question: "Wasn't it Freddie 'Parrot Face' Davies? He's coming to mind for some reason". The reason being that I know it's the right bleeding answer, but to come out with it in an authoritative and unequivocal manner would make me look unacceptably smug and twatty.
Well, bollocks to it all. I know about a lot of esoteric things and I like knowing about a lot of esoteric things. Anyone who thinks I'm a bit of a spanner for doing so can work it up their arse. Better something useful like a spanner than a dildo made of blancmange. It's hip to be square. So there.