A time to take stock


A chara, – Jonathan Miller’s series A Brief History of Disbelief made for the BBC is what public service broadcasting should be all about. In our vacuous age of celebrity dietitians, operations of hideous transformation, kitsch and debasing talent shows, it is important to remember what television and radio can and should be able to achieve.

Both Clive James and Jonathan Miller were a part of that 1950s and 1960s post second World War welfare state generation, that liberated so many through access to education, exposure to the arts and a democratisation of so much that had once only been for a very privileged few. Their passing this week, is a good time to reflect on the awful social damage that is being caused now through the rolling back of so much that was gained by the welfare state not only in England but in Ireland too.

There is a cynical coarsening of culture taking place, a pride in anti-intellectualism in high places, a blatant disregard for all that isn’t immediately profitable.

Look no further than how Lyric FM is being pruned by financiers who care only about bank, not musical notes.

A glibness and grubbiness is taking hold of things, you can see it in the sickly commercial “Grafton Quarter” lights that have replaced “Nollaig Shona”, where meaning of any kind is subverted, to its lowest common denominator, a country where spreadsheets take precedent over warm sheets for the most vulnerable.

It is a time to take stock, to reflect on what kind of culture allowed people like Miller and James and our own Muiris Mac Conghail bloom and what kind of society we are acquiescing to, as we tap away, trapped in our own silent screen worlds. – Is mise,


Kimmage, Dublin 12.