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Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Please Get a Bigger T.V.


I walked past a house window last week that was filled with a television screen. Probably the T.V. was on the far wall but the quality of modern domestic electric equipment is such that if the T.V. was just a tad larger and turned up fully I could sit on the wall opposite this house and watch it. Then for maybe 10 minutes every month, I would get a free reminder of why I’ve not reverted to telly in 12 years.

Everything is getting SO BIG – like the wheelie suitcases – the ones the size of coffins that are the scourge of railway stations. I’ve never asked but something tells me the people trundling these behemoths behind them, are not actually leaving home for the decade that the size of their luggage suggests.

Once on the train these passengers cannot be parted from their caskets-on-wheels so the rest of us are now investing in mountaineering gear and abseiling paraphernalia in order to get to the loo. WHAT THE HELL IS IN THEM? I didn’t know hair straighteners got that big…

Sorry – back to televisions.

According to Donny Osmond - and he should know - there are 76 million comments about T.V. on social media each week – made while the programmes are airing. He didn’t say who counted. However, what this means is that some people – quite a lot of people – can sit in the presence of these monstrosities and still have brain function enough to connect nerve activity to thumb movement. Now that’s impressive.

Programming and general content, format, style has altered so much in the last dozen years that I have developed Z.T.T (zero telly tolerance). If you don’t believe me, try this little experiment. Keep away from television for a year or even six months then try sitting through a soap opera or a reality T.V. show and see if your insides don’t rupture.

At a friend’s house I was exposed to 3 minutes of X Factor and found myself pressed into the back of the sofa as my whole being revolted against it. Any longer and I think green smoke would have erupted from my nose and ears. I also had the experience of T.V. ‘possession’. Several months ago I viewed Come Dine With Me at my mum’s. Some mad bitch who looked like me, sounded like me and moved like me started uttering comments like,

“That’s the third chicken dish for heaven’s sake…”
“Well… if that’s her idea of an appropriate pudding to serve after risotto!”
“Tut, tut, tut, cold plates!”

I don’t get it - with the exception of  bid T.V. and other shopping shit, which I would highly recommend for the sheer unadulterated comedy value, no seriously – bid T.V. is funnier than any comedy act I’ve seen in recent years, guaranteed to have you – or at least me – rolling off the sofa gasping for breath and screaming for more.

I’ve no scientific basis for what I am about to say but I’ll say it anyway – I’m like that. Staring at the space behind the T.V. for half an hour each day would be more likely to add something to most people’s lives than the (average) 37 hours per week T.V. viewing that people apparently do. The bigger and more domineering the set, the harder it must be for any other sensory intrusion, positive or negative. The ridiculous number of home-improvement shows in the scheduling is surely ironic. Frankly, once a T.V. set reaches a certain size, I’d challenge anyone to notice if the remaining walls were smeared with camel dung.

Last Saturday I spent half an evening at the Star & Shadow in Newcastle, a fab indie venue – with wild, wonderful drummers, a frantic fabulous guitarist, and comedy Marge (!). I then dashed over to Jibba Jabba open mic at The Trent (making the most of a rare Saturday night out). Here, though I didn’t catch it all, there was improvisation, comedy, singer/songwriter music, poetry, and sketch monologue. The showcase performer of the night was a Yorkshire based poet, erudite, interesting, delicious to listen to (even with a hint of a brummie accent!). Not everything would be everyone’s cuppa. Some of the experimental stuff verged on chaotic but the least of it, the most inexperienced performer, the most nervous act, the rawest newcomer was worth a night in front of X Factor any day of the week and this was just one small indie venue on one night in one city.

There is so much creativity out there and telly is so all-consuming, how come the two keep missing each other?

My nightmare scenario is that one day I am on a train and someone with one of those trolleys takes out a monster T.V. plugs it into the carriage socket and I’m blasted into a parallel universe by Strictly Come Dine With Coronation Factor On Ice.

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