Grandma is here at the moment, which is great apart from one thing: the combination of Mum and Grandma (or indeed most of my aunts and uncles) results in Archers chat.
No, I’m not talking about the drink, although I do also object to peach schnapps on a number of levels. The Archers, for those lucky enough to be unfamiliar with it, is a dire radio 4 soap based around the lives of a small and unbelievably boring farming community. Anyone else afflicted with relatives who listen to it will be familiar with the dread that accompanies the unjustifiably jaunty theme tune, which usually bursts onto the airwaves just when you’ve starting the washing up. Those “dum de dums” herald the end of all that is good and true in the world for a fifteen minute period every single bloody day of the week.*
If you want to hear what I’m complaining about without having to deliberately listen to the Archers, or if you are a fellow victim of Archers-listening-relatives, I recommend this sketch by John Finnemore – it’s a brilliant summary of what you’re (not) missing.
My problems with the Archers are manifold, but the reason I feel so much stronger about this than about other TV and radio abominations (of which there are many) is its omnipresence. Not only does literally no other drama that I can think of get so many primetime slots, but the Archers insidiously seeps into my family’s conception of reality in a terrifyingly efficient way. I’m regularly informed about Pip’s progression through school/college and told “she’s your age, you know” (SHE’S FICTIONAL). Only yesterday I heard this exchange:
MUM: Did you hear about Roy and Phoebe? It’s so sad! Oh and of course Kate’s in some kind of trouble again…
GRANDMA: She’s just dreadful isn’t she! Phoebe seems to be distancing herself from Kate now…
MUM: Yes, and of course she lived with them for a while, you know.
You might think this was a discussion of real people that we actually know and care about, but I’m reliably informed that they’re Archers characters. I rest my case.
*apart from Saturday, apparently