‘GKC’ on ‘Thought For The Day’

– (C) BBC – Photographer: Rolf Marriott

GK Chesterton would have been a perfect contributor to the Today Program’s ‘Thought For the Day’ His wit, originality, brilliant shifts of perspective, his whole dazzling combination of absurdity and grace would have been perfect for it. But no doubt even if the great man had been at his coruscating best in the Today Studio, John Humphrys would have been as smug and condescending to Chesterton as he has been to the likes of John Bell and Jonathan Sacks, the great communicators of our day, and declared himself to be ‘bored’. Why? Because its ‘religion’ and we all know, without needing to know anything about any religion, that ‘religion is boring’.  Humphrys’ unfortunate and graceless tirade against Thought for the Day, published in this week’s Radio Times has met with a brilliant and considered response by Nick Baines, a TFTD contributor, in his excellent blog ‘Musings of a Restless Bishop. It was interesting to note that Archbishop Justin Welby also responded warmly to Nick’s piece and praised him for it.

Nick Baines deals with the substantive points, but though I don’t usually go in for topical satire, I wondered what GKC, in his mishcevious Ballade-making mode, would have made of all this and have composed, in his spirit, the following Ballade of  the Bored Presenter. As usual you can hear me read it by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button.


Ballade of the Bored Presenter


Thought For The Day! let it begin!

My new perspective on today

Three minutes on the state we’re in

A breath of spirit through the clay

A chance for those to have their say

On whom such constant scorn is poured

We listen, lifted on our way,

Except John Humphrys who is bored


For after all the slant and spin

The petty postures and display,

Two second sound bites, bleak and thin

We yearn for thought, Thought For The Day

Jonathan Sacks shows Wisdom’s way

And John Bell rings a rousing chord

We all find courage for the fray

Except John Humphrys, who is bored


They don’t have any votes to win

Or points to score on polling day

They simply know the place you’re in

And stand with you and help you  pray.

Some thoughts may fly and some may stay

And some we stand up and applaud

And some we grapple with all day,

Except John Humphrys who is bored


Prince you have spoken of the day

When Gates will open wide and broad

And we’ll ascend that splendid way

Except John Humphrys who’ll be bored.


Filed under imagination

18 responses to “‘GKC’ on ‘Thought For The Day’

  1. Ken Willis

    Dear Malcolm,

    Good poem but small point : if you do not spell Humphrys correctly, you will manufacture bullets for John!!

    Best wishes

    Ken Willis

  2. Tanya Marlow

    Love it!!

    Sent from Outlook ________________________________

  3. Rosemary Wycherley

    Oh Malcolm. That is brilliant. Can you not have two minutes on TFTD with this? Just for the sheer fun of it!

  4. ruthrumsby

    Please note my change of email address. Thanks.

    Ruth Rumsby


    01420 88182

  5. Luci Shaw

    “mischievous” is the correct spelling! (Not mishcevious)

  6. Wendy

    Thanks for the chuckle for this day. See you in Winnipeg soon. Wendy

  7. MIchelle


  8. Thanks for making giggle at the beginning of a dreary day

  9. Very good. Although John Humphrys admited it wasn’t always boring. It’s often boring, even to this Christian, sometimes pompous or infuriating and occasionally uplifting and inspiring.

    • malcolmguite

      Yes. But it’s usually pretty good and as the attack was general and sweeping I thought the defender should be too. Also this is a piece of fun and part of the humour is in the exaggeration 🙂

  10. Brigid Smithers

    I love your ballade. It made me laugh. Has anyone told John Humphrys how arrogant, irritating and, yes, boring he is? I switch him off and wish they’d retire him!
    Keep up the good work.

  11. Thanks for reminding us and keeping the GKC wit and style alive. I don’t know the show or the presenter but I do very much know the attitude. Also, thanks for the misspellings, it encourages those of us who are so challenged to just keep writing on…

  12. Ripples of chuckles from Waterbeach’s Living With Integrity group: wonderful sauce for our diet of Social and Environmental issues discussion and action! I’ll try to ensure that this Ballade features in one of the ‘Poems in the Kitchen’ events which we initiate is our community. Join us sometime!

  13. Rosanna Wakefield.

    Love it, such a brilliant thought for the day! Thank you Malcolm.

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