exclusive interview

Utilising the marvels of interweb technology, the following is the transcript of my recent radio show broadcast where I am in interview with Jan Futchinelle, l’enfant terrible investigative reporter creating a name for himself in the modern medieval city of Oxford and well beyond these county lines. For anyone out there who calls living under a stone home, Jan has spent the last few weeks talking up the #roadsituation.
I invited him onto the show, to learn a bit more about both the story and the man. Judging by the several emails received following broadcast, audience feedback suggests public opinion sits firmly behind the journalist.
Without further ado, here!

06:32hrs GMT
“A-nd welcome back after the news, you’re tuned into Brinkinfield’s Fried Breakfast on Radio OX72FM. If you’re travelling into Oxford city today, I have been passed some traffic info for you to take heed of. The lights are out at the Wolverine roundabout, causing some cavalier cavorting by road-users with the area classified as immediately dangerous for  all nearby pedestrians. We’ve also just received news of the Botter’s Road bridge down to one lane, cordoned off by police while frogmen search the canal. This follows the report of a rather large man falling from the bridge during yesterday’s rush hour. Police are appealing for witnesses.
“Right, back to business. As listeners, you may be interested in my next guest on this morning’s show Jan Futchinelle, who’s writings on the road situation has attracted stacks of attention over the last month or so.
“Welcome Jan, I am glad for us to meet.”
“Thank you and thanks for asking me onto your show.”
“It’s a pleasure Jan, I feel we share many of the same ideas. Which is why I’ve asked you to come on and discuss what has become known as, the road situation in Oxford.”
“Yes, well, of course it’s not only effecting Oxford. Towns, villages, hamlets and cities all over the country are suffering in the same way as here.”
“Right, but here in Oxford, this is where you live and what you know and what you see, am I right Jan?”
Exactment.”
“Oh, a little bit of French there Jan!”
“I speak 7 languages, French, Swiss, Italian, German, Austrian, a little Scandinavian.”
“I imagine it must come in handy from time to time.”
“Very occasionally, yes.”
“So Jan, what’s it all about, this road situation you’ve been writing of for the last few weeks?”
“Well, it’s been more like a year now. It breaks down into three inter-linked component parts: potholes, congestion and road-user behaviour.”
“Ok, briefly take me through them.”
“Well, has it occurred to anyone listening the idea of there existing a more suitable product for surfacing roads than the current materials, with all the technology we have at our disposal today?”
“Yes Jan, it has occurred to me before. There’s got to be, surely!”
“It’s an absolute certainty. Look at our present situation, whatever the weather conditions the roads crumble, crack and sink. The surfaces break down, unable to take the extremes of cold, warmth and wetness our seasons produce. The current materials used simply aren’t fit for purpose.”
“Certainly Jan, the road travel in on each day provides a dreadfully bumpy ride, physically lifting me off my seat. I find myself weaving around the road to avoid the worst potholes.”
“And it is unsafe, the potential for accidents doesn’t require much imagination.”
“Agreed, I worry about my suspension and wheel axles too. I don’t believe cars are made to withstand this kind of exposure. What material do you believe would do a better job for surfacing roads?”
“Almost anything, but my favourites are re-cycled rubber from tires and re-cycled plastic.  At a stroke, the inadequacies of the current recycling system we have, would be solved. There’d even be money in dredging the oceans to remove the vast tracts of discarded plastic floating around, which endanger sea life. The technology is here, the raw material is close to being free, it is a no-brainer.”
“Okay, we’re going to take a break for a tune by the Velvet Underground, Sister Ray, picked to help ease your  journey into work this morning. When we come back, I’ll be reading out some recipes you’ve tweeted in, specially themed to this morning’s interview. Then we’ll talk more with Jan, on the subject of Oxford’s road situation.”

“A-nd, as we fade that out, you’re listening to Brinkinfield’s Fried Breakfast on Radio OX72FM where I’m in conversation with Jan Futchinelle, journalist, writer and all round good egg.”
“That’s a long track, Sister Ray.”
“Indeed it is Jan. Let-me-see, it comes in at 17 minutes 28 seconds… I hope no one minded me talking over the last 12 seconds as it played out.
“Now Jan, where were we?”
“Christ-alive, I’ve forgotten. Your listeners won’t know this, but during the musical interlude I got a quick trim at the barber shop located underneath the studios here.”
“Just so listeners know, Jan is sporting a clippered haircut – what would that be Jan, a zero on the number?”
“Yes, that’s right, zero.”
“But it looks like Francesco trimmed and conditioned your beard too.”
“Yes, well we could hear the Sister Ray track coming through the ceiling, and both being familiar with the song, we worked out we had enough time.”
“And you brought me back up a latte too, thank you Jan. Right, where were we? Oh, I am getting a voice in my ear saying we have enough time for some listener’s themed recipes and then we’ll go to the news.”
“I could hear that voice in your ear. It sounded like a busy bumble bee inside the flower of a daffodil. Can I just quickly mention about road tax?”
” – Not just yet Jan.”
” – About how less than 25% of the road tax goes on road maintenance?”
” – Later Jan. Okay, with the time now at exactly… six fifty seven, let’s go through some of the recipe ideas our listeners have tweeted in. Right, here’s one from Balthazar, thank you ma’am. Hm, what have we here? It looks like a hotdog from the photo – oh I see, the hotdog has cocktail sticks pinning cherry tomatoes and slices of cucumber into the side of the bread finger roll to look like car wheels. Yes, very good. And the wiggly line of mustard, that could be like a go faster stripe down the centre.”
“Normally, go-faster stripes are displayed along both sides of a vehicle rather than running down the centre.”
“True Jan, yes, but the mustard would just run and look messy I don’t doubt.”
“Depends on the mustard.”
“And what’s this we have from… Ge-ronimo…Cheeks, I think I have that right, okay let’s see, th-is, loo-ks like… oh, okay, it’s a slice of apple, with four grapes. Again, wooden cocktail sticks used as the axles. Right, I can definitely see a car theme developing here – keep them coming in. Okay, here comes the latest news and weather and we’ll be back right after this.”

this song is the mute button

“And that’s the sublime sound of Jason Lytle, formerly of the band Grandaddy, with a tune to melt your heart and make your eyes cry. In case you’ve just joined us, I am here with journalist and campaigner Jan Futchinelle, to talk about the Oxford road situation.
“Jan, we’ve talked about the road surfaces and what can be done about them.”
“Yes we have.”
“And I believe your campaigning initially came to my attention after you wrote an article entitled car ban or carbon? about the city council’s plan to exclude cars from Oxford. I also understand you have something to say about road-users, too.”
“Correct. Drivers of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians sometimes too.”
“So what’s your beef, Jan?”
That’s an unusual verb… but anyway, way back in the 20th century in the very early nineteen thirties, the Ministry of Transport published an 18 page booklet called the Highway Code.”
“And we’re still using it?”
“It’s been revised many times.”
“How many times Jan?”
“Regularly. The point is, the booklet contains guidance and rules about driving. Every learner driver knows that questions about the Highway Code form part of the test to acquire a full driving license.”
“Oh yes, I remember, all that stuff about stopping distances?”
“Yes and much more. Now, some of the rules explained are compulsory, whilst others are recommendations.”
“Like giving way to traffic on the right at roundabouts?”
“Correct, that’ll be a must-do rule. If you are brought to a British courtroom on a traffic violation, the Highway Code may – and probably will be referenced in a case against you.”
“I’m with you. So, what’s your point Jan?”
“My point is, the rules are pretty basic.”
“For example?”
“If you are sat at a junction to a main road, you give way to the traffic both ways, until the road is clear and safe to pull onto.”
“Seems like common sense there Jan.”
“But how many times have your listeners seen car drivers edge out onto main roads, as if they are entitled to some kind of special exemption from the rules?”
“Well, I’ve certainly seen this, whether they are turning left or right, or cutting across traffic to come off the main road. Often people in big four-by-fours, but not exclusively.”
“Indeed. And people blithely wave them on without consideration of possible consequences. Have you seen this happen – when a cyclist or pedestrian is endangered as a car turns? Have you seen the confusion being waved-on creates when there are two or more cars vying to take advantage of a situation? It’s madness. People, I say, just drive by the rules! That’s all I ask. Life would be so much easier.”
“Life would be better.”
“Life would be safer.”
“And that’s what really counts Jan. I am afraid we have run out of time, thank you so much for coming onto the show.”
“My pleasure. Lastly can I just say ‘cyclists, use lights day and night‘ and also mention I am giving a talk later this afternoon at Holywell’s Bookshop, inviting a Q&A session immediately afterwards.”
“Indeed Jan you can, and I believe you just have. We have time for one more themed recipe and okay, let’s see what we have here and from whom…”
“It’s a banana and are those four cherries, run through with a cocktail stick?”
“Yes I think you’re right Jan. Our thanks to justcantgetenuff for tweeting that one in. This next song is regularly requested by listeners of the show, after which we’ll go to the news and weather with Randolph Spencer. But first, here’s the Palace Brothers, with Merida …

corner shop

Inside the local corner-shop, I located most of my list
Except for the Marmite, the only item missed
Asked a busy shop assistant, feeling tired on my feet
She looked at me strangely and asked me to repeat

I said the sentence slowly, she said it back to me
Initially saying no, then dashing down aisle three
All shelves checked up & down, said no to me once more
Shook her head apologetically and asked me what it’s for

I glimpsed a row of Marmite jars, sat on the bottom shelf
Pointed blurting there that’s them, hopping like an elf
Picking up a pot, Marm – mite I heard her say
I told her yes – that’s the one and to have a lovely day

Grabbing hold my basket, said she’d help me to the till
I told her really I’m fine thank you, how I held no ill-will
At checkout a pepper chose not to scan, I knew just what this meant
Help got called and along she came, skipping as she went

The label flattened by her thumb, the scanner made a beep
A triumphant smile crossed her face, eyes closed as if asleep
I paid the bill while thanking her, then made towards the door
Around my legs a rugby tackle, sent me tumbling to the floor

Your change young sir, your change, it’s something you forgot
Staring at me hand held out, it really was not a lot
Standing up both brushing down, a third thank-you in a row
I gestured towards a charity tin, saying I really had to go.

 

all fuss about nothing

“… in other news, an artist based in Oxford stirred up a storm with his photographic busking, and we go straight over now to our art’s correspondent Jan Futchinelle to find out what all the fuss is about. Jan, what can you tell us?”
“Arthur thank you. Well you find me here on Pigeon Toe Lane, with these sturdy iron fence railings just behind me, where the artist known as Brinkinfield has been hanging several of his photographic collage works and has a hat on the floor in front of him containing small loose change given by a few passersby. I’m glad to say the artist responsible is here with me, providing an opportunity to find out what it’s all about. So Brinkinfield, what is it all about, exactly?”
“Well, okay, the pieces you see here aren’t for sale. They are here for viewing. Having looked at the images, if anyone wants to drop some loose change into the hat, I’m happy.”
“What makes you think people will, aren’t people simply going to look and walk on?”
“Sure Jan, people may do – and that’s okay. Likewise, there’ll be people who contribute. There are no rules, people can do whatever they want.”
“I see you have a brief of this concept written on a piece of cardboard next to the hat.”
“That’s right, I do.”
“Now this image, if I can ask Nicky operating the camera to move in here so our viewers can see it, this image has caused quite a stir amongst the clergy. Viewers need to bear in mind, Pigeon Toe Lane is sandwiched between two churches, St Barnaby and St Muriel, while situated just a stone’s throw from the university’s men of the cloth college. Brinkinfield, describe what we are looking at and just what the idea is behind the idea”
“Okay… Sure, it is a composite digital photo made up of three elements. The chair, floor and skirting board make up one part, the wall another and dead Jesus the third part.”
Dead Jesus?”
“Yes Jan. The image is from a painting showing Jesus taken down from the cross after the crucifixion. At that point, sorry to break it to you, but he was dead. It’s an important element of the stories in the Bible, in terms of what came next. The wall shows the shadow created by sun shining through windows, conjuring up the image of the cross, or crosses if you will. Jesus had company on that day, as I understand it. The chair just seemed to work well. If I could be bothered to re-do the image, I’d reduce the scale of Jesus a little, but you know, it is what it is, for now.”
“And you don’t think this may cause offence to some people?”
“The picture as a whole? Yes, I imagine so, to some people.”
“Are you attempting to make a statement? Isn’t the juxtaposition within the image disrespectful at all?”
“No, no intent there, that’s for sure. I love images of Jesus.”
“Right. Well, let’s ask some people walking by – ah, here’s someone. Excuse me madam! What do you think of this, here?”
“Oh, are you that journalist who writes about the road situation in Oxford?”
“Well, yes I am.”
“Oh that piece on the rudeness and arrogance of motorcyclists!”
“Yes, yes, that was me.”
“My son was furious about it. He rides a Yamaha YZF-R1, says he’s always a polite road-user.”
“Oh, right, I see. Well, what do you think of this image here on the railings?”
“That?”
“Yes please, your thoughts?”
“I think it’s beautiful, evocative, really makes you think.”
“Oh, right, I see. Thank you.”
“That’s alright, I have to go now.”
“Well, I think we’re going back to the studio, where I understand Arthur has an update on the furore surrounding university lecturers and inappropriate behaviour. Is that right Arthur?”
“Thank you Jan, yes that’s right.”

 

it all started with a dirty fork

It all started with a dirty fork
In a cafe, which had taken an age to settle upon
A family run affair, with each member pleased to see you

His weekly breakfast taken, in the same window seat
A variety of characters shared in their own dining experience
Overheard conversations were as you’d imagine
He quickly felt a like a regular, a patron

And the prices were very reasonable too
A dirty fork is hard to clean with a paper napkin
The raising of his hand and an eyebrow
Failed to catch the attention of the young waitress

Eating his breakfast proved tricky, with only a knife
The next week, armed with his own pristinely clean cutlery
He noticed a stubborn smudge of ketchup
Stuck to the edge of his plate
As his meal was placed before him

The following week, his own plate, cup and saucer
Along with his own cutlery
The week after, condiments collected from his kitchen
And a tablecloth, from a kitchen drawer

I’d might as well bring my own chair next time
He’d thought
It was a fold-away and not too much trouble to carry
The table had legs that folded away neatly, too

The family members of the cafe showed tolerance
Suppressing frowns when he arrived
Complimenting him on his silver candlestick holders
And lighting the candles, with the matches he provided

When he brought his own food with him
They smiled kindly and cooked it without comment
And later, when he cooked his own food in his own pans
The hard-working sons, made space for him in their kitchen

On each visit, he changed the lampshade and bulb
That hung over his table
Unrolled a rug
And hung floral-patterned curtains, he’d had ‘made to order’

Only after an emotional outburst contesting the bill
For the first and last time
Did Sr Rodrigues ask him to leave, to take all his things
And to never come back again

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