Hello again! See! I told you I'd be back. 

This is kind of cheating though because a version of the following appeared in the last edition of the Australian Big Issue, which you should buy religiously from now on as I am appearing in it regularly and you wouldn't want to miss knowing the ins and outs of what I'm watching on the telly.  



They say the newspaper is a dying breed. That’s the term they use. Breed. Like it’s Darwinian. Like the newspaper is a humiliating combination of genetics that can’t survive in today’s world – the fourth wall’s version of that sheep a few weeks back that was born with a human face. The Internet, on the other hand, is depicted as a triumph of genetic engineering, a gleaming specimen of perfection belying (as we know from science fiction films) the fearsome and ever-present possibility that we may have created a monster. We genetically engineer things for a reason, but – like Labradoodles or those wrinkly see-through cats – sometimes they turn out a bit weird.


As a metaphor, the dying breed can be found almost anywhere. The phone book, it has to be said, seems a bit silly now. When I was a kid, if I wanted to call a friend, I had to know how to spell the friend’s last name. I had to know – or guess, from his appearances at various recorder concerts – the friend’s father’s first name. Did he look like an Ian? Had I heard someone call him Max? Maybe the listing was under the mother’s name? Did she look like a feminist? How can you tell? It was baffling. Now, if I want people’s numbers, I get them to prank me at parties, and I add their names in later, the only flaw in this system being that sometimes I forget the person’s name by the time I leave the party and they have to go into my phone as “interesting party conversation” until later.


The street directory is a dying breed, too, although in my experience it is still very useful for those times you need the person in the passenger seat to write in a birthday card on the way to a party and there isn’t a surface to lean on.


Watching old TV shows over summer I witnessed dying breeds all over the place, including an old TV cliché: the Romantic Moment Woo. The Romantic Moment Woo was a feature of TV shows filmed in front of a studio audience. Just as two main characters leaned in for their first kiss – the drama pinging with electricity so that you had forgotten you were watching television at all – the studio audience gasped in pantomime surprise and, in unison, let out an enthusiastic wooooooooooooo! The woo lasted the length of the kiss, with the rather Brechtian result that the two kissing lovers were often afflicted inexplicably with a case of the giggles. I don’t think the Romantic Moment Woo has been replaced yet. Perhaps it’s an extinct species.


Maybe Darwin was right.