Wednesday, December 10, 2008

TV In A Coma (I Know, I Know It’s Serious)

As any cable subscriber will tell you television reception can be, at times, akin to a half shaken Etch A Sketch – a frozen mosaic of tiny squares with accompanying aural effects that sound remarkably close to Colonel Bogey being played under water by an asthmatic tuba lover.

Not so much oompah oompah as plain old bah.

This doesn’t happen often (t’otherwise nobody would pay for a cable service, would they?) but round where I live one sudden shock of cold weather is enough to make Virgin Media’s cable technology huddle up in a foetal position and refuse to play technological ball.

I’m sure Mr Branson would blame other adverse catalysts such as high tech mismatches of information packets and misdirected routings of fibre optic data but between you and me: it’s the cold. A bit of frost and News 24 resembles a kid’s finger painting. I’m so glad I invested in a widescreen TV.

Such a denial of service occurred on Sunday. No kid’s telly. No Dave. No UKLiving. No Catchup TV. Nothing.

Things looked glum for all of ten minutes.

And then we rediscovered the various and multifarious delights of (a) silence (b) music and (c) books.

It was amazing. Without the TV cracking its whip the day opened up into vast pastures of possibility. Suddenly time itself seemed to expand and cast off the shackles of enforced half hour slots of no-brainer entertainment. The day was pregnant with opportunity.

It made me realize how television – for all it can be a marvellous educational aid – also prevents you from thinking ‘outside the box’ (if you’ll pardon the pun). As soon as it is switched on the day seems to be mapped out and segmented according to what the various TV channels are broadcasting. You totally forget the many other home comforts that are available to enhance your living experience.

For most of Sunday we enjoyed a little quiet island of TV-less bliss.

Thanks to the efforts of the Virgin Media engineers the TV returned to life at the end of the day all mended and functioning normally... but, I have to say, looking a little bit nervous. A little bit insecure around the edges.

You see, we hadn’t missed it. We’d coped. We’d realized we could survive without it.

There was a New World Order.

The seeds of a comfortable rebellion have been sown...

15 comments:

Reluctant Blogger said...

haha you are funny.

As I am sure you know we don't really watch TV in this house. I do switch it on at 9pm most days but often with the sound down. My children don't really watch much - Top Gear and The Gadget Show is all. It isn't because I disapprove of them watching it, I would just rather they were doing something else. Although "something else" is often fighting of course! But no, seriously they read a lot, spend hours with lego or just mess about outside. And I prefer them to do that.

For myself, I don't really like TV a lot so I never think to switch it on. I'd rather listen to music or chat.

You should try doing alternate days with no TV or something. I doubt you'd miss it. Obviously you need to pick days when there is nothing on with Keeley in it.

Steve said...

Hi Gina, good point about Keeley - I'm still in mourning for never having seen Tipping The Velvet... looks like I shouldn't cancel my subscription to the Radio Times just yet! The TV is something of a God in our house... I think it's about time I found a different altar or two!

Brother Tobias said...

I'm so grateful for having grown up without one...and regret our children having grown up (very much) with one (they're not readers). We lose ours in power cuts - which aren't so unusual out here at the end of the line. It's brilliant; congregating in the kitchen as the only warm room, with an oil lamp, a glass of wine and Scrabble. Bliss! (But I'd miss gems like Green Wing and the IT Crowd).

Steve said...

There's always something both exciting and cosy about powercuts - it's like camping in the comfort of your own home. TV seems to have become a basic necessity of the modern home along with a kitchen sink and toilet that flushes but on the whole I think the good outweighs the bad (provided we're strong enough to ration its use and our reliance upon it). The IT Crowd is a confirmed favourite in our house too - and I certainly wouldn't want to be without HIGNFY, Mock The Week and sundry dramas like Ashes To Ashes and Heroes.

KAZ said...

Interesting - I recently bought one of those hard disk thingies. So I set the machine for anything I fancy.
Then I forget to watch it.
I don't fret about 'missing' anything which is very liberating.
But the disk will soon be full as I enjoy other aspects of life..

Steve said...

Hi Kaz, we've bypassed the need for such wonderful hardstate technological advances by becoming (probably too) reliant on Catch-Up TV. Basically Virgin keeps a copy of all the good stuff over a 7 day period and lets you watch it whenever you have the inclination. On the whole it's a pretty good service (though I seem to have missed an episode of Little Dorrit) and saves me having to stay up really late at night.

MOTHER OF MANY said...

My 17 year old goes into an emotional meltdown when NTL messes with the phone,TV or internet!Her coping mechanisms totally fail and she needs serious therapy( cash to go out spending!).

Daisy said...

we get a lot of that here in the winter as the electric goes out with the storms...we had an ice storm last year and it was out 2 days...year before that a blizzard...reminds us how dependent we are on electric...

Steve said...

Amanda, she must go into meltdown a lot cos NTL / Virgin aren't the most reliable of companies in my experience!

Daisy, it does indeed. I feel sorry for people who have no experience or love of camping. We've got so much equipment around the house we could rustle up a hot meal without gas or electricity at the drop of a hat.

Pearl said...

Very nice.
I once went three days without cable TV. There was nervous sweating, there was the inability to focus my eyes, there was pain and swelling between my ears...

And then, I got very peaceful. And when I came to, I discovered that I had quite a few books, that my friends lived down the street, and that the bar was open. HA! A beer, a game of trivia, and all was right.

Unfortunately, I tend to have the TV on almost continuously. It's like white noise for the most part, but I have to admit that there have been days where "what's on" determines what I do.

I'm ashamed, but there you have it.

Sob!

Pearl

Lucy Fishwife said...

Virgin are dreadful - they fell out with Sky well over a year ago which meant that I was paying the same amount of money for fewer channels - and missed series 4 of Lost into the bargain. We have Sky back now, ho hum, but YES you're right, the service regularly goes doolally and after unplugging and replugging several times we often end up watching DVDs instead... I think we're addicted to the big bright pretty colours...

Steve said...

Pearl: damn - I forgot about the pubs! Doh!

Lucy, I quite agree and don't recall even being notified that the SKY channels had been returned to us Virginites; I only discovered I could get Sky One by chance. All those needlessly missed episodes of Malcolm In The Middle! Drat!

MOTHER OF MANY said...

It was only with reading you blog entry that I realized that I hadn't watched TV in about a week(not counting Cbeebies being on in the background ALL the time!).
I am poorly and so is my youngest with something nasty and viral and rest time means no TV or noise of any kind. I have the suspicion that I have not missed much!

missbehaving said...

Heretic;)

Steve said...

Ally, with the exception of Spooks and the fianale of Little Dorrit you haven't missed very much at all. Hope you're feeling better soon!

Missbehaving: burn me at the stake (as long as it's not televised)!