It's always fun on BBC strike days, watching to see who's had no problem with waltzing through the picket lines. Last night, on the late edition of Look East, we got Nick Conrad, the 9am-11am presenter from BBC Radio Norfolk. Immediately, I thought "Oh look who it isn't. Not only a dog-eater, but also a scab".
A dog-eater? Why yes. I listen to a lot of BBC Radio Norfolk's output, but I'm afraid the radio goes off whenever I hear Conrad. He seems to think he's edgy and provocative, but he strikes me as terribly bland and not a little smug, which is never a combination designed to keep me tuned in. However, one morning in February, I didn't get to retune quick enough, and the intro to the show made me stay listening, because I thought "this could be interesting", and not in a good way either. Here's that intro.
Nick Conrad 09 02 2011 intro by Louis Barfe
What amuses me most in retrospect is the way that he reiterates the various points endlessly, simply to last until the end of the jingle, which is 2 minutes and 41 seconds long. After the first minute, he is talking loud and saying nothing new. Maybe he feels that the listenership is deaf and/or as thick as pigshit?
My faith was rewarded fully about 20 minutes into the show.
Nick Conrad 09 02 2011 dog by Louis Barfe
"Every animal should have a right to a human death," says one listener. Conrad corrects himself. It is unclear whether the listener in question couldn't spell or whether it was Conrad's reading at fault, but what is clear to me is the memory of spluttering coffee across the room as I burst out laughing.
Then comes David from Thorpe St Andrew, who has a point to make about the live transport of horses for food. He's unhappy with the inhumane way the cargo is treated. It is at this point that Conrad deploys what he believes to be his thermonuclear warhead, the thing that really puts the cat among the pigeons (in this case in a white wine sauce with aubergines and shallots). The way he admits to having eaten dog while on holiday in Vietnam clearly indicates that he's been bursting to drop this bombshell from the moment the show's subject was decided: "Yes, that'll get Norfolk's dander up. My canine snack will really get them going." The "What do you reckon to that?" is delivered in the manner of someone who feels he's holding four aces. Outrage will be created. Talk radio gold will ensue.
Only one problem. It doesn't work. David from Thorpe St Andrew responds in a boringly matter-of-fact manner and proves (perhaps surprisingly) open to the concept of relative cultural values, Conrad doesn't like it. When David says he's eaten kangaroo, Conrad's purse-lipped "Yes" seems to carry overtones of "YES, BUT A KANGAROO IS NOT A FUCKING DOG, SO I REMAIN KING OF THE MEAT HOBBY, THUS I WIN", an impression underlined by his "David, allow me to speak" interruption. The show is not going according to the plan he had thought so fiendish and clever. David is despatched with "Good to hear your voice, you take care", which I hear as "Good to hear your voice, but it's a shame you didn't use it to react in the way I expected. You take care. Don't fall down any manholes, y'bastard".
With David out of the way, Conrad repeats that he "ate a dog" (a whole one?) in Vietnam, and adds that it's something that "really infuriates people". Well, not everyone, evidently.
EDIT: In the interests of accuracy, I have been asked to point out that there was no picket line to cross at the Forum in Norwich yesterday. This doesn't make Conrad any less of a scab, obviously.