Damien Grant: Me, the Mad Butcher and my secret for staying sane in traffic jams

Research out this week shows we're spending much longer in traffic.
CHRIS SKELTON/FAIRFAX NZ

Research out this week shows we're spending much longer in traffic.

OPINION: When I first got a car I tuned the stereo to a couple of radio jocks styling themselves as The Top Marks. This was back when David Lange was still sniffing his debating partners for uranium so we are going back a while. They were funny and I was impressionable.

I never knew what happened to this duo but after a while I found myself listening to Kim and Corbett. It seemed everyone was, but they were like marshmallows. Sweet to start but too much and they became unsatisfying.

Over time I drifted to Radio New Zealand and I felt a personal connection with Geoffrey Robertson but his earnestness became wearisome. Sadly the staff who currently toil at the state broadcaster suffer from a conceit that they need to interpret rather than report, and confuse journalism for left-wing advocacy.

Damien Grant has found an educational alternative to radio jocks.
DAVID WHITE / FAIRFAX NZ

Damien Grant has found an educational alternative to radio jocks.

Perhaps it's because I'm now old, but I'd rather watch Gaelic football than listen to Dom Harvey apologise for tweeting about someone's genitals or whatever other nonsense he gets up to. Most radio jocks are the sort of high-energy jerks that were charismatic, popular and deeply annoying at school. I avoided them then, I don't want to listen to them now.

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Still. There is no escaping the hour or more I and most Aucklanders spend in the car every day - journeys that congestion statistics out this week show have lengthened greatly in the past three years. What to do?

For several years I've been listening to talking books paying firms like Audible.com and an outfit called The Great Courses. I spend $30 a month. It works out to around 50c per hour and if I'm feeling poor there is always a vast array of free podcasts, although their quality is highly variable.

Currently I'm listening to the blood-drenched history of the Romanov dynasty, where emperors murder disobedient sons, wives overthrow their feckless husbands and malcontents are literally ripped apart in the square.

If such a savage montage isn't your thing there are books on cake-decorating, fiction or an endless diet of self-help books to stop your mind atrophying during the daily commute.

There is one final motivation to switch off the anti-intellectual drivel of talk-back and silencing the village idiots who prance about on commercial radio, and that is never again hearing the Mad Butcher boasting about his meat.

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 - Sunday Star Times

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