Square eyes and stress by Trevor Plumbly
Mother always insisted that television was an addictive force and, at the ripe age of 75, I’m beginning to believe the old girl was right.
These days I can’t see a great deal on the screen, it’s more like having a big grey radio on the wall with lots of adverts, but, even for me, some TV programmes are a must, bringing back memories of the religious SHUSH for the Queen’s speech and Coronation Street. My current addiction is a quiz show called ‘The Chase’. Nightly, beer at hand, I sit in judgement on contestants’ IQ, muttering ‘thicko’ when they fluff an easy one and nodding sagely in self-applause when I get one right. 5.00pm is a time for intense concentration, and most importantly, thoughtful silence.
Time for a break
Afternoon TV adverts are addictive and a world unto themselves; I’m convinced that that’s where the apprentice marketers get chucked in the deep end. All sorts of inessential muck goes begging and often if you buy something useless you get another one free! This is a stressful time for me because my natural caution is under constant attack: should I buy the cream even though I haven’t got a toenail fungal infection? Am I losing sleep by not having the miracle pillow? Or perhaps I should join the funeral plan and get the hefty discount if I rope the missus in and phone in the next 30 minutes. Mercifully, ‘The Chase’ restarts and I’m forced back to Solomonic duties far removed from the temptations of cheap incontinence pants and unwanted garage carpeting.
Saved by the bell
It’s a visit from Emily. Ems is one of those people who can light up a room without touching a switch. Leaving the telly on in her presence is much the same as talking on a cellphone during a papal mass. I’m forced to abandon my biblical wisdom in favour of playing the London version of verbal tennis but, despite our enthusiasm and intensity, at the end of the visit the world remained in the same state. Anxious to confirm this, I hastily groped for the remote, flicking through the news channels. Astonishingly there was no mention of Trump; we all expect the unexpected, but who could predict silence? Theresa May’s right there, of course; if nothing else, that gal knows a gap when she sees one, but no Donald! Others like me must be frantically surfing the channels for some new outrage like junkies rummaging for an overdue fix.
I once had an artist friend who avoided all forms of news, his logic being that he didn’t want anything in his head that he didn’t put there. Along with Mother, he just might have had a point.