Dabbler Diary: Skunk and Fox

The BBC’s Savile-Newsnight dégringolade, as horrible as it is, offers up an interesting case study to students of management. Is there a symptom of bureaucratic degradation that the corporation is not exhibiting?

We have: the proliferation of managers but a lack of management; the presence of people whose job title begins with the responsibility-lite ‘Deputy’; the tolerance of dubious behaviour and worse as it’s too much bother to do otherwise; the promotion of the incompetent into management non-jobs as the easiest way to extract them from the important roles; the studied avoidance of knowledge in case it turns out to compromise; the right thing being defined by procedure rather than morality; decisions being made by default; not to mention, the widespread wearing of chinos.

This strikes me as very much a post-Hutton BBC – one where everything must be done to avoid erroneous acts of commission, even at the risk of committing ones of omission. Yes, A Gilligan was recklessly wrong in the detail of his Today programme two-way on Iraqi WMDs. But I’d prefer a journalistic organisation that was willing to take risks to get things out into the open than one that wriggled to keep its bonce below the battlements. Especially when it’s an organisation that can put together something as superb as this week’s Panorama.


The wider Savile problem seems to me to be another good argument for the reform of our libel laws. What with the US’s First Amendment protections, I wonder whether an American version of Jimmy Savile is less likely?

You can support libel reform here.


Over on ITV, I watched a few minutes of last Sunday’s Downton Abbey. Most peculiar: actors going out of their way to make it obvious they were acting. It was as if everything was in scare quotes – the dialogue was really too implausible for even the cast to credit it. To adapt Harrison Ford’s comment on George Lucas’s scripts: “you can type this shit but you sure can’t say it”, or at least you can’t with an entirely straight face.

I imagine everyone must be in on the Downton Abbey joke now. In this sense, it’s jumped the shark – knowingness deprives it of unintended humour. This is in contrast to the imperishable Howards Way, which succeeded in maintaining its pretensions to quality drama whilst missing by a hilarious mile (if you want to confirm this you can – it’s all on YouTube, starting here.


It’s not just editors at the BBC who are in trouble. I feel bound to offer some sort of exculpation of my fellow editor’s admission of micturative guilt back in his Monday diary. If such did happen – and I doubt that it did – it occurred into the shrubbery of a small strip of park rather than against a neighbours hedge. I can be certain of this as there are no domestic hedges in Angel.

Of course, and as so often at The Dabbler, we were partaking in a great literary tradition. Indeed, two of my favourite poets, Thomas Hardy and RS Thomas, were skilled and enthusiastic al fresco piddlers.


Whilst I (innocently) go around my business in the streets of London I’m sometimes struck by a musky aroma, usually whilst passing through some dark, leafy corner. At first sniff I’ve been assuming it’s a waft of skunky dope smoke – but it’s actually the scent of dog fox, something I always associate with holes in hedges. It’s a bit disorientating.

Dabbler Diary is brought to you by Glengoyne single malt whisky – the Dabbler’s choice.
Share This Post

About Author Profile: Gaw

6 thoughts on “Dabbler Diary: Skunk and Fox

  1. andrewnixon@blueyonder.co.uk'
    October 26, 2012 at 13:47

    I’m astounded at the way the Beeb has turned this into a story about a Newsnight editor, rather than a story about how it and various other institutions harboured a rotten old paedophile.

    The whole Newsnight/Panorama/BBC News thing is such a circle jerk. Andrew Neill on This Week announced that elsewhere on the BBC, the 6 O’Clock News would be investigating the 10 O’Clock News, Blue Peter would be investigating CBBC’s Newsround and he would be independently investigating himself on the Daily Politics.


    Are you as certain there are no domestic hedges in Angel as Nick Cohen was that there are no mini-roundabouts on Upper Street?


    • joerees08@gmail.com'
      Joey Joe Joe Jr.
      October 26, 2012 at 20:30

      Andrew Neill announced that… …he would be independently investigating himself

      Euuurgh! Some people are trying to eat their teas, Brit!

  2. Worm
    October 26, 2012 at 14:05

    ahh the bitter stench of the dog fox urine as it hits your nostrils is quite something, and you’re right, it does have something of the skunk weed about it.

    I have people on my facebook timeline occasionally posting pictures of foxes asleep on sofas or on people’s beds with the caption “ahh how cuteee” and I have to remark that I can’t think of anything less cute than a stinking mange, tick and flea ridden fox rubbing itself all over my bed.

  3. johngjobling@googlemail.com'
    October 26, 2012 at 17:55

    A friend, who dwells both in the city and the life corporate, swears that the entire kit and caboodle is driven by groups of the male of the species wandering around pissing against trees. As your target was a hedge, are you mere beginners, work-placement widdlers, working your way up to the arboreal big cheese, that most excellent pissoir, the leafy version of Clochemerle. Is your goal in life standing at the foot of a Sequoiadendron giganteum and, as one, pointing percys at the pine.

    Incidentally, 250ml, that’s the capacity of the average male bladder, as I found last week, I didn’t know that.

    Regarding our beloved state broadcaster, I eagerly await the investigation of Wark by Vine, the history of said event written by Marr with added stuff by the ‘historian’ Snow. The whole sad episode supervised by two Daleks and Captain Pugwash. That would be value for money.

    • Wormstir@gmail.com'
      October 26, 2012 at 18:31

      …with a musical section starring John Barrowman


  4. zmkc@ymail.com'
    October 27, 2012 at 04:44

    It makes me sad that the phrase ‘the right thing defined by procedure rather than morality’ strikes me with such a strong sense of recognition. Luckily your reminder that that glorious thing that was Howard’s Way once existed swiftly cheers me up

Comments are closed.