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Friday 2 December 2016

Radio Review: A perfect match - sex and Wotsits

The original 78rpm recording of That's Alright (Mama) by Elvis Presley is up for auction in Dublin (AP)
The original 78rpm recording of That's Alright (Mama) by Elvis Presley is up for auction in Dublin (AP)

A Jaffa cake. A “little glass of wine”. A “packet of cheesy Wotsits”. What, apart from deliciousness, unites them?

Well, according to Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter (to give him his full and slightly ridiculous title), they all amount to 90 kilocalories (each). Which is, according to Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter (to give him his full and slightly ridiculous title), about the same amount of kilocalories burned during an average session of sex (if the participants are young and reasonably vigorous).

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter (to give him his full and... sorry, I’ll stop now) presumably learned this through clinical and/or creepy observation of young people humping each other with reasonable vigour. I only learned this because Spiegelhalter shared the info with Futureproof host Jonathan McCrea on Saturday morning. Honest.

McCrea quippingly observed that this seemed to suggest that one “could reach energy neutrality by eating a packet of cheesy Wotsits while having sex for nine minutes”. “A brisk walk would be just as good,” Spiegelhalter chuckled. Less fun though.

Spiegelhalter was, he claimed, writing about and studying sex in order “to infiltrate the idea” of “the importance of statistics” into “general discussion”. Which seems as good an excuse as any, really. I just wish I’d thought of using it in secondary school.

For a chap so immersed in the statistics of sex, the bold professor seemed curiously coy about the graphic specifics. It was only through persistent badgering and bullying that McCrea got him to finally splutter out the words “intra-vaginal ejaculatory time”.

Result? He sounded mildly mortified. But we got 90 kilocalories worth of cheap ‘n’ welcome laughs. Happy days! Jaffa cakes for all!

Remove Pat Kenny from The Pat Kenny Show and what are you left with? Well, on one level, I suppose you’re left with a show simply called The Show, which is a bit weird.

But you’re also left with solid Kenny-less packages (by Fionn Davenport et al) that often offer the best reasons for listening in.

On Tuesday — after Kenny had nipped out for a tea or a wee or whatever — we were left in the capable hands of John Fardy, whose series Songs from the Brill Building is now in its fifth week (or so). The focus, as the name suggests, is on those songwriters and producers — like Carole King, Phil Spector and Burt Bacharach — who toiled in the Brill Building, New York’s legendary pop-music hub, and helped create and define its signature sounds.

Tuesday’s episode was a portrait of a partnership that “popularised black culture and rhythm and blues and repackaged it for white America”.

A portrait of, said Vardy, “two white Jewish kids who, in a way, invented rock ‘n’ roll”.

We heard some choice archival audio where the ‘kids’ in question — Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, in case you hadn’t guessed — reflected on their long careers together.

We heard them describe how they’d always felt “culturally very black”, how Elvis’s seminal recording of Hound Dog (their song) had caught them by complete surprise, and how their use of the Brazilian ‘baion’ beat on The Drifters’ There Goes My Baby ended up influencing “over 1,000 hits”.

“This baion beat,” said Vardy, “would provide the backbeat to one of the most beautiful songs ever written and produced by Lieber and Stoller and maybe by anyone.”

And from there we cut to Ben E King, and Stand by Me, and on to other delightful sounds and stories that were all 100pc Pat Kenny-free.

Futureproof, Newstalk, Weekdays

The Pat Kenny SHow, Newstalk, Weekdays

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