The news is – you’ve missed the news

ALL I want to do is listen to the news. On the radio. In my car. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Well, yes, clearly; because I can’t make it happen.

I think it’s another one of those natural laws that confound us from time to time. Like the cheapest petrol being at the service station you just passed.

I don’t listen to much in the car. I like to concentrate on the driving. But, being a news man, I like to keep up with the news.

It’s impossible. In the car, anyway. I can listen to science programs, religious programs, chat shows, party political broadcasts, and an endless range of appalling music that the ABC for some reason thinks is avant garde and therefore palatable (but it isn’t, ABC) but not the news.

Natural law number 399 states the following: the radio news occurs two minutes after you have left your car for an urgent appointment, and ends two minutes before you return. If you drive round the block a few more times in the hope of catching it, you will be in a reception dead spot.

Is it just me? Is it written in the stars somehow that I can’t make my life coincide with a simple, five-minute radio program that happens every hour? And if so, could I be sent into a trance for 45 minutes, so the links in this weird synchronicity were severed, and I missed Fran Kelly’s chat show instead?

I swear, every time I get into the car it is seven minutes past the hour and the news has ended, or I catch the tail end of it, in which I learn that it may rain in Perth tomorrow; or it warns me of an “…impending cyclone”. but I miss the crucial bit about where, exactly.

And if the news is imminent, I arrive where I’m going just before it starts; or someone rams be up the back and I have to get out of the car to deal with.

Yesterday I arrived at an old friend’s house two minutes before the news started. There was no urgent appointment so I decided to sit there and wait for it.

Barry spotted me and came out, ripping open the car door. “G’day Col. Didja forget how to open the door? Come on in. Gotta new beer to try.”

“Go away.”

“Beg yours?”

“I’m trying to listen to the news.”

“But it’s not on for another two minutes. And it’s all the bloody same anyway.”

Shame I wasn’t still driving. I could have run him down. Instead I leapt out, ripped the aerial off and hit him with it.

But he’s right. Why is it men have to hear the news? I don’t mean women aren’t interested; but I suspect that if a woman misses the news, she can deal with it. I remember it was a hanging offence to speak while my Uncle Bill was listening to the news, and in those days it was mostly static anyway.

And Barry’s right. It is all the same. Different names, different countries, different states; but somewhere in the world people are dying, people are cheating, people are struggling to make a living and raise their children without getting their heads shot off. It’s like reading a pack of cards that you shuffle every day and deal out in a different order.

Anyway, I can’t stop. I’ve got a 90-minute journey to do and there’s no way I can miss an hourly news bulletin if I’m a on 90-minute journey.

Pity I ripped the aerial off, though.