Mark Johnson covered it brilliantly in his most recent post and I touched on it a while back, and this recent spell of really cold weather has led me once more to that putrescent fount from whence I draw much bile-arousing material: the commercial teevee networks and *The News*.
Taking the cue from their second cousins in the US, Australians have pretty much got used to news anchors whose expertise seems to lie more in the choice of the smart frock or the nifty tie than in an understanding of the world beyond the studio, so to someone from, say, Muckinbudin, in Western Australia, the teevee news broadcast from Lexington, Kentucky, would be comfortingly familiar; the same stories about celebrities, cats up trees, humanity’s inhumanity and, of course, *The Weather*. Where would we be without *The Weather*?
When in Western Australia on that rarest of rare winter days when the temperature plummets to 5 degrees Celsius above freezing, give or take, our chic young reporter on the spot grabs the opportunity and the microphone with both hands. Swaddled in bright windproofs trimmed with lashings of faux fur, she prettily faux shivers as the camera pans to scenes of frosty lawns and the face of CONCERNED HOMEOWNER or perhaps HOSE FROZEN who couldn’t get water out of his garden hose until 7 a.m. and wants someone to do something about it. (Note to self for further investigation: Why can’t those on-screen captions be in caps and lower-case? Do they employ pre-kindy kids to set them for pocket money?)
It’s the same here, only more so. To be fair it’s been a fair cow (sorry, couw) of a winter, but it’s given our girls on the spot a golden opportunity to shine in faux fur and pink as they point at slush and snow drifts and winningly faux smile as they give us the number of cars that have hit black ice and slid into the ditches along the rush-hour roads. Pointing at the snow blowing around her ruggedly fashionable and expensive boots, our girl makes a faux grimace and tells us that it’s still snowing while she’s talking and isn’t it all terribly breathtaking.
Now I’ll give the girls their due. They’re sort of fashionably attractive in a sort of plastic, 2010 way and fashionably dressed – one of them obviously has the same thing about hats as I do – and they do brighten the dreary scenes of snowy, salt-encrusted freeways that they’re sent to stand and be filmed by, but it’s all a bit Hollywood, all a bit…well…faux.
But there is a straw of relief to be had can you but find a way to clutch it; relief in the person of one Sara Elliott, weather-reporter-on-the-spot with CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) Windsor, Ontario, whose signal reaches into Michigan. I was lucky enough to catch her reports during my brief time in the Northern Wastes and if ever you’re up there you could do much worse than tune in to watch this girl’s work.
Not for Sara the faux fur hood and colorful windproof, the designer boots, the fashionable gloves and the fifty-dollar scarf made of bread bags chewed by the fashion designer’s dog. No, like her fellow presenters, Sara is obviously of good Canadian just-plain-folks stock. Filmed in the dim light of a winter afternoon, she’s dressed for her job; *The Weather*. Wearing hat, gloves and scarf all obviously knitted by a favorite Great Aunt, minimalist make up outshone by cold-nipped cheeks and nose and her footwear hidden by a military style greatcoat, Sara’s smile is as bright and warm as the West Australian sun and her delivery is nothing if not practical.
“It’s minus 11 [Celsius] now,” she says, “and aboat to get a lot colder. If you were thinking of goin’ oat tonight I wouldn’t bother, it’s goin’ to be terrible.”
Good on yer Sara – I need someone like you on teevee, the whole world needs you.