My post concerns a much loved elderly relative. Someone who has been in part of our family since earliest memory. She was known as 'Auntie', not just by us, but by countless others across the country. I am referring to the BBC. I can vividly remember being in our kitchen on a July day in 1953 when the austere voice of a lunchtime newsreader announced that an armistice had been declared, bringing the Korean War to an end. My mother had a little weep and got on with the cooking. That was typical of the way in which the BBC was an authoritative lifeline and conduit of information for all families, rich or poor.
Now Auntie is seriously ill. Her delusions are sometimes laughable, frequently embarrassing, but increasingly dangerous to herself and those around her. She totters about the place, and her regular falls seem ever more likely to cause her lasting, even terminal, damage. We support her, loyally, of course. Only the other day I stumped up nearly £150 as my small part of the multi million pound care package which pays for her care during her sad decline.
Auntie's bizarre behaviour is happening more and more often. She has developed a worryingly peculiar way of responding to world events, where, when something happens which she considers 'relevant', she will send a team of alleged journalists to the scene of the event, where the dutiful stooge will stand around in the crowd of onlookers/mourners/innocent passers-by, shove a microphone under a random nose, and ask such penetrating questions as, "Well, what's the feeling in your village now that Nelson Mandela has died?" Every mundane reply is then transmitted back to an adoring audience, no-doubt glued to their radio or TV set. The whole Mandella farrago was a disgrace, and I have only just felt that it was safe to turn on Radio Five Live again.
My small but loyal readership will have gathered by now that my views, in political terms, are some way right of centre, but not, as one critic has alleged, some way to the right of Eugene Terreblanche.
Take Auntie's pride and joy, BBC Question Time. The format is simple. Ship in a rent-a-mob audience of students, malcontents, entitlement freaks, Guardianistas and beards. Choose any three from Auntie's centrally-contracted cast of stars - Owen Jones, Baroness Toynbee of Tuscany, George Monbiot, Mehdi Hasan, Chuka Umunna, Kevin Maguire, Diane Abbott…(need I go on?)