At the weekend I got rid of my television. I had a friend help me drive it to the tip, and we left it in a concrete bay waiting to be added to the pile of other televisions and electrical goods that form an ever-growing mountain of consumable home entertainment hardware. It’s not that there was even anything wrong with the set, except that it was big, took up a lot of room, had no built-in Freeview, was a CRT screen and was very, very easy to sit in front of for hours and watch absolute nonsense.
Nowadays a TV has to be slim, black and dominant in the house. A television isn’t something to be disguised in a wood effect casing as if it is a piece of the furniture. Instead, the television is expected to set the tone for the rest of the life that you lead. My now disposed of television had a silver plastic case with a glass-fronted stand for the VCR and set-top box. Each adding to the number of remote controls that proliferate in our living rooms.
It’s not that I dislike television as a medium either. Indeed I have many favourite shows, from Thirty Rock and The Big Bang Theory, to Dr Who and classic drama. I suppose the main reason for getting rid of the set is that I got bored with the stuff in-between. The talent shows, the medical dramas, the bake-offs, the grand-designs, and the limp, circular news programmes. If I thought for a moment that what I would be doing with the rest of my life was searching for something interesting to watch, and never finding anything, I know that I’d have died and gone to hell. Do I need to see one more talent-show wanna-be getting mocked and ridiculed for their lack of singing talent, when everyone who makes the show knows that they are a no-hope looser. Cruelty isn’t worth watching.
So instead, I’ve rearranged the living room so that my hi-fi speakers are placed in an equilateral triangle with my sofa, my DAB radio is patched in to a channel on the amp, and my old DVD player is a perfectly good way to play my CDs. I’ve got hundreds of books to get through. I have an open fire I can build and fall asleep in-front of when the chill autumn nights set in. Or, I can just go to be, catch up on much-needed sleep, and get on with doing things when the day starts and I’m feeling fresh.
I’ve lived without a television for a number of years before and didn’t have a problem. The real question is why did I get one again? What was the gap I was trying to paper over, and what should I do now that I have discovered this gap again and decided it’s a a lot more interesting to have a gap than to try to distract yourself. I’ll let you know how I get on. BBC Radio Three, here I come.