This week’s word, courtesy of Katy, was inspired by her choosing on Boxing Day.
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When I was growing up, the TV was known as ‘the box’, as in ‘Is there anything on the box?’ (or, inexplicably, the cod-French ‘Est-ce qu’il y a quelque chose sur le boite ce soir?’). One of the things that surprises people about our house is that we don’t have a TV. Well, we have a TV, but it’s not connected to receive broadcast. We can watch DVDs, but if we want to watch broadcast TV we have to go to someone’s house, or, for BBC programmes, use the iPlayer and watch them on the computer. Which means that we don’t watch much broadcast TV at all.
We didn’t make this decision deliberately, in an attempt to be ascetic – we moved into a house with bad reception and didn’t get round to fixing the dish. For months. After which, we realised we didn’t really miss it, and decided not to bother. By this time, not having a TV had become normal, so we weren’t prepared for how odd people would find it. We frequently get asked if we miss it. (No, or we’d have a TV). What do we do in the evenings? (We talk or read or knit or sew or play games or have a bath or… um, put a film on). Don’t we feel we’re missing out on the good stuff on TV? (Not really – we spend our TV licence money on DVDs, so we invariably catch up on the good stuff eventually, even if we’re a year or so behind.) Don’t our kids miss out? (I hope not. They do have DVDs, so we can choose their viewing, and as well as the contemporary stuff, they love Bagpuss, Ivor the Engine, Willo the Wisp and the Clangers. They watch some TV at their grandparents’ house, but thankfully they stick to CBeebies so they don’t see too many adverts!.) Several people assume that we think we’re terribly intellectual, or somehow superior, which we don’t – we’ve had TV for most of our lives and I can readily imagine that we may well have it again, but it’s interesting that this perception surfaces.
We get our news from the radio – Radio 4 is on almost all day if we’re not working – which means that I’m quite well informed but sometimes I don’t know what a key player in current affairs looks like until I see a picture on a news website, which is quite disconcerting. We both work from home so we don’t have the issue of the ‘water cooler’ conversations about what was on TV last night, but on internet forums and at social occasions I notice – in a way I never had before – how much people talk about the television. I also notice that when people complain about something (an election, the football, the Olympics) being ‘everywhere’, they might not know it, but they don’t really mean ‘everywhere’, they mean the TV – I’ve never felt that sense of something being ubiquitous since I stopped having one.
When I watch TV at other people’s houses I’m always taken aback by how strident adverts are – I have definitely become more sensitive in 5 years without a telly. It took a year to convince TV Licensing that we don’t have a TV – they are incredibly reluctant to believe that anyone without a licence could be that way because they don’t have a TV. But we’ve heard nothing from them for nearly 4 years, so they have probably put us on a list of dangerous subversives.
Go and see Katy to check out the other Weekworders!
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