Friday, December 7, 2012

Royals And Shock-Jocks: A Death In Old England

The new princess what's-her-name is pregnant.  She's experiencing morning sickness, maybe more than the usual.  She was admitted to the hospital.  This is big news in England; obviously they have nothing substantive to worry about.

So that bunch of royal-struck neo-pagans is mostly glued to their TV's worrying about the poor girl.


I have always liked morning radio that was a little on the unrestrained side.  In mid-seventies Los Angeles we had Sweet Dick Wittington, a real wild man.  He was particularly adept at the morning radio staple sometimes called "phoney phone calls."  He was the master, always careful to sneak in a disclaimer like "we're on the air right now."  No one seemed to notice though, because the content of his calls was so nuts, and his delivery so innocent and sincere, that they were all sucked into his manufactured reality.

He called the Vatican one time, I think he was suggesting himself as the new bishop of the diocese of Los Angeles.   He got past several levels of vetting and ended up talking to some monsignor in the appropriate office.  The call went on for at least fifteen minutes, finally he had to break for commercials.  He called the Nobel Prize Committee one year, suggesting himself as the recipient of the "Nobel Peace Prize for Science."  A master.

Jonathan Brandtmeyer was another one.  He could do it on the phone, and he could do it live, a great actor he was.  (Maybe he's still working, I don't know.)  One time he got a hold of one of the prop decapitated heads from the movie "Nine Heads in a Duffel Bag" and played a cruel trick on an Indian taxi driver in Chicago.  He had the bloody thing in a gym bag and he climbed into the cab, wired for sound.  He got on a cell phone and did a one-sided call to his boss, saying that the guy was dead and he had the head.  Acting like his boss didn't believe him, he shows the thing to the driver and says, here! ask the taxi driver! he's looking right at it!  The poor guy almost had a stroke.  Was it funny?  Hysterical, actually, cruel but hysterical. 

To my knowledge, no one has previously committed suicide due to one of these calls.  

Unfortunate, Royal-Struck Nurse Commits Suicide

So a pair of morning radio tricksters called up the hospital while the princess was there.  They pretended to be the Queen and the prince, and, I think, one of the Queen's corgi dogs, and asked to talk to the princess.  So the poor, dumfounded young nurse who initially took the call passed it up the ladder to a no-doubt slightly older poor, dumfounded nurse who actually connected the call.  Enter the law of unintended consequences.

The second nurse seems to have taken it pretty well, she still walks with the living and apparently still has her job.  Nurse number one, though, could no longer face life on earth, in her deep shame, and took her own life.


Where is the right and wrong in all of this?  I'm sure that the poor morning fools are pretty broken up about it, and I'm sure that their continued employment is in jeopardy.  Is it their fault?  Does it have to be somebody's fault?  Should we blame it on Royal Fever?  That nurse freaked out when she thought she was on the phone with the Queen.  Overly deferential?  Suggestible?  She wouldn't have killed herself if the phoney call got connected to some schlub.  What if the callee were some government minister?  Donald Trump?  The  Archbishop of Canterbury?  Were's the suicide line?  Blame one of the nurses for not picking up on the clue about the dog being on the phone too?

Well, I'm sorry about the dead nurse, but I hope this doesn't put a damper on the honored tradition of morning radio phoney phone calls.  

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