But use sparingly. Possibly with a prescription
Nick Ferrari Weekdays, 7am, LBC
Nick is perceived as LBC’s chief goader and mocker, lancing antisocial misfits three hours a day like a man out hunting dogs in the city with a homemade spear.
That’s what some say, but you can’t quite lump Ferrari in with such as Littlejohn and Liddle. You might want to, but the modern-shaped version of Nick partially gets it – there’s an element of detachment, like an ironic Pulp song. Possibly since he nearly got ticked off by Ofcom for calling the 2015 Paris attacks a Muslim problem. But he didn’t get ticked off, so who knows?
Some of Nick’s interviews are serious and considered. But there’s no linearity. He charges from topic to topic and back again like an excited bulldog in a Greenpeace gift shop. Add the phoners-in and it tips Nick into an angry sea in a leaky lifeboat with a broken rudder. The LBC phoner-in is a different kind of independent thinker.
The conversation moves on, as Nick says often. Just as well. Today was exemplary and poignant, with a twist of the surreal.
Nick was discussing the rise of populism in Europe (we’re still in that). He got on a couple of experts and it was great stuff. Lengthy interrogations without interruption. Actual balance, not the BBC mix of devil’s advocate and incompetent contrarians brought in to gainsay the expert.
But some listeners are out of balance.
Is populism something to be frightened of, Nick asked. We’ll take your views! After the news, that is, giving him time to change tone, frighteningly. You can picture him, during the news, mussing up his hair and harassing himself.
Help, help! (He actually shouted this.) Populism is on the rise across the whole of Europe!
Therefore and duly, John was in Romford. The epitome of a quick escalator.
“Well, we should all be scared of populists, Nick. Because populist is just the new name for racist.”
“Yes, of course it is, Nick. The last time the populists reared their ugly head, six million Jews were killed.”
That wasn’t populism, that was Nazism, said Nick.
“It’s virtually the same thing. The populists all seem to have one thing in common. They all seem to think that brown people are invading Europe. Right?”
John, I’m just going to bring someone in. John of Yeovil. Do you agree with John of Romford that it’s effectively Nazism under another name?
“No. This is typical leftwing hysteria. Anyone that disagrees with them is a Nazi or a rightwing thug. The bottom line is, I look at places like Budapest where I’ve been, or Vienna – they’re prepared for Christmas, you can walk the streets, there are festive lights, trees. Anywhere else, you’ve got roadblocks, concrete blocks, armed police … “
See? Out of balance.
John of Romford, said Nick, you’re being hysterical, says John of Yeovil. But John of Romford was just being hyperbolic. John of Yeovil was being hysterical.
“You do know,” said John of Romford, patiently, “that in Great Britain there are plenty of places where you can walk down the high street and there are plenty Christmas decorations and all that.”
“Whaddya mean name … well, you can go to any town in Great Britain. Any. Ilford. Romford.”
There you are, he’s named two, John, said Nick, reasonably.
“Ilford is not a town,” said John of Yeovil, wrongly.
“You can go to Dagenham. You can go to Tower Hamlets. You can go anywhere and the Christmas spirit will be there. You see a problem where I don’t see a problem. You’re the one causing a problem, coming on and trying to insult me for caring about everybody, not just people who look like me.”
John of Yeovil, go ahead, said Nick, hopefully.
“I think the people who go around calling populism fascism and Nazism ought to take a look at what’s happening on the other side. You’ve seen countries surrendered to immigrants.”
Hold on, said Nick, John of Yeovil, what country has surrendered to immigrants?
“Well, Sweden certainly appears to have done.”
“Australia and America have been surrendered to immigrants,” said John of Romford, rising cannily to the bait. “Because they’ve been taken over by Europeans. Don’t tell me any nonsense that immigrants are taking over anywhere. Go and look at somewhere like Canada or New Zealand.”
John of Romford, said Nick, what will we see if we look at Canada?
“You will see that the natives from there were slaughtered to take their land. That’s what you will see.”
John of Yeovil?
“Well, all I can say is this is the Blair syndrome. We’ll apologise for something that happened 200 years ago. Perhaps we should get an apology from the Italians, because I’m an East Anglian and I very much resent that Boudicca was raped by the Romans, and her daughters killed.”
Later on, Joe piped up from Stockholm. How balanced is that? He confirmed that John of Yeovil was out of his mind, but probably unintentionally.
Have yourself a safe day in Stockholm, said Nick.
If Ferrari could always keep that calm all the time he’d be a shoo-in for Question Time referee. But he’ll never make the shortlist. Balance, see?
Anyway, he can’t always keep that calm. He went over to what he called “issues, problems, whatever” on the Vauxhall Bridge, which were part of National Bother Jim Davidson Day, an excellent new initiative.
Then he replayed his interview with Roger Hallam, co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, London bridge-blockers and Davidson-botherers.
Roger, who sounded muddy, like he’d been celebrating with a big bottle of Night Nurse, was worried about the ice melting. Nick interrupted him over and over with his goading and mocking tone, as if he was sitting in his yard chuckling while he stepped on a slug, with intervals, so the slug could attempt a few doomed getaways.
Nick kept telling Roger he didn’t have a clue. Did he? We’ll never know. Nick ended up by calling Roger puerile and bankrupt of ideas. Roger, desperately bobbing for air, decided to get out.
“If you don’t allow me to talk to you, I think I’m going put the phone down,” said Roger. “Because you’ve interrupted me about ten times.”
Because you haven’t got a clue. I’ll put the phone down ahead of you, said Nick, putting the phone down. Beat you! Bad luck!
But should it really be about luck? An email came in from Gloria. Where are Boris Johnson’s water cannon when you need them? That’s what she said.
And the great thing is you can listen to it all again on the LBC Audio Again player, any time you want. Without the news!
Illustration: Nick Ferrari by Rowan Tallant