Sunday, 12 March 2017


Everybody’s sitting round watching television.

The Clash, London’s Burning

I got a TV eye on you.

Iggy and the Stooges, TV Eye

For ten years I lived on a narrow boat on an English canal. Folk walking the towpath would naturally be interested, and I showed several people the inside of the boat, at their request. One eastern European concert pianist wanted to measure up to see whether he could fit an upright piano on a boat, should he decide to buy one. I pointed out to him the necessity of counter-ballast on a boat with such a shallow keel. But I digress. The pressure being put on boaters to move back onto the land and get a fixed address has been ramped up since I quit the life, but that is a subject for another postcard from Traumaville, that strange city in which we find ourselves.

On one gorgeous summer day, a young woman and her small daughter asked whether they could come aboard, and I happily obliged. For the little girl, this was obviously fascinating, that people, grown-ups, could bob about on little boats. But something else caught her attention, and she became mildly agitated and concerned. She pulled at Mummy’s hand and whispered urgently;

“Mummy. He hasn’t got a television.

Do you watch television? You do? Seriously? How does that make you feel? Does it enrich your life? Do you talk about the programmes you’ve seen with your co-workers each morning? How long would you say you spent watching TV? Is your TV set the focal point of your room in that all the furniture inclines towards it? In your opinion, does television fulfil the vision of Lord Reith, the founder of the BBC, to ‘educate, inform and entertain’? I think you may have to re-examine your motives, as you should do always and about everything important in your life. In fact, if you own a television, I think you need to undergo a root-and-branch examination of your entire life.

The television, in my opinion, is the single most corrosive element of modern life. I haven’t owned one for over 20 years, with the exception of an old 1970s set I used to watch videos through. We were never a TV family, although my late father would like to settle down and watch the box, particularly the old English sports programme Grandstand and Top of the Pops because he, like all Englishmen of his generation, fancied the dancers in Pan’s People. If you know what I am talking about, enjoy your free bus pass in just a few years’ time…

Get rid of it. This is a weblog with a modest readership, but if one person reading this either took their television set to the municipal tip or sold it to someone who feels the need to watch celebrities and ex-politicians ballroom dancing, or politicised and emotionally deleterious soap operas, or news so biased they may as well rename the BBC Pravda – Russian for ‘truth’, as if you didn’t know – or comedians retreading the same joke that Right-wing people are just mean, or any of the other crap for which you pay both financially and temporally, then this whole weblog will have been worthwhile.

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