This morning I was listening to yesterday’s Marian Finucane show on RTE Radio from Sunday because I was thinking about writing a piece on how the topic of water is getting presented in the media and there was a discussion. I had the headphones on and was typing away, doing other stuff while listening.
After a few minutes I drifted off from what was being said altogether, and could only hear a sort of polite polyphony, voices rising and falling, lingering on this and quickly passing over that, and it occurred to me: I never hear conversations like this in person. I never hear people talking like this in pubs or cafés or in other people’s homes or on the train or at the school gate. Not in my part of the world, anyway.
True enough, the radio studio and the panel format are not supposed to take the form of everyday conversation.
But there is an effect, built in to Finucane’s show in particular, I think, that would convey the message to most of the people you might meet in the everyday, even if it were just a drone in the background: do you hear this? This sort of thing is not for you.
The things we are discussing now, the way we are discussing them, that is the right and proper way, and we are the right people to be discussing them. We let reverence for the institutions of State, and for those who make the rules, guide us. In fact, we know many of these people personally and, as you can hear, we can vouch for their sincerity and, on occasion, their unique and incomparable talents.
The sound of our voices is the right sound. Hear that accent? Hear that amused tone of mild detachment? Hear that rueful turn of phrase? Hear that wry voice of experience talking about the way things work round here? Did you hear the matter-of-fact introduction the panel got? Self-evidently, people like us should be on talking about these things.
Doesn’t the sound this week sound awfully like how it sounded last week, last year, last decade? Hasn’t it always already sounded like this? That’s what separates people like us from people like you. You can tell by the way we talk that it is people like us who get to run things around here. Not people like you.
Now, what was it we were discussing again?