Sunday, 1 June 2014

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The idiot box

I have no idea how I made it through Christmas 2012, if it was not for the fact I had assignments to submit, I would have turned into a sponge. I have been saturated by TV and why, because I have spent too much time in the presence of married couples, and that was not because of any erotic parties. I don’t know how some of my friends turned from being exciting, globe-trotting extroverts, to daily uttering the immortal words – “let’s have a flick through what’s on the telly tonight”. I know I am jumping on my high horse as a single lady, but did they never read about what happened to Mike Teevee in Charlie and the Chocolate factory. Sorry, they probably watched the film; it was probably on repeat ten times during Christmas. I asked another married male friend of mine about this, why do married couples watch so much TV? My initial thoughts were that married men are forced into watching the like of Desperate Housewives. If a man ever says to you they like Desperate Housewives and they watch it, you know they are married for sure, I wish I had paid more attention to that a couple of years ago! He explained that he is too tired to do anything other than watch TV, and that I am lucky to have a life outside of the idiot box. I have lived in so many countries and TV was never part of my life. The only channel I had access to in Russia was BBC world, and other places I lived in even if I had had a TV, I was too busy. In Moscow, I probably didn’t sleep longer than 4 hours on my days off because every hour was taken up with social activities. I have never been so sociable in my life, even if I spent some of those evenings merry, I advise a drunken stupor above a mind-numbing-TV induced one. I guess I have to exclude him because he has kids, but most married couples I know don’t, or the children have flown the nest. As much as I love them, I wonder how they came to be so exhausted with each that they prefer to watch the TV, rather than go out and do something together or talk to each other. Since when did the question, “so what did you do last month?” and the answer was nothing – and a list of TV programmes considered a valid answer. It reminds me of a quote from Polanski’s ‘Bitter Moon’: “We were developing a narcotic dependence on television - the marital aid that enables a couple to endure each other, without having to talk.” I am not claiming I never watch TV; I love David Starkey and most history documentaries, the odd HBO production. But the quality of what’s generally available is hardly a worthy distraction for talking to each other. The amount of low cost reality TV is just astonishing: there’s: come buy a house with me, come and sell my antiques, come and get styled by me, come and sleep at my house and rate it, come eat with me and come and lose the weight with me and big brother. My friend likes a programme laughably titled river monsters, I have no idea how a woman who has never been fishing, came to enjoy a programme about fishy predators. She really must want to avoid conversation with her partner. I recommended walks in the woods, it’s not particularly exciting, but even the sodden damp is better than the lethargy of the TV and the sofa. Worst still because I had essays to write and reading to finish, my friends were annoyed that I was not 100% partaking in the same hobby. How does bed-breaking sex turn to a TV fest? Maybe it is down to over-familiarity due to spending too much time together. Try as I might, I can’t seem to convince a friend that going away for a week’s holiday would do her and her partner some good. They would have something to talk about at least when she returned home. Another friend asked her partner to come and check a spot on her bottom. If you wouldn’t dare ask a friend to look at it, I don’t know why you would ask your partner. I think wealthy Victorians had the right idea by having separate bedrooms. An ex-colleague of mine used to live in a separate house across the road from his partner and wife of seventeen years. He said they actually spent more time doing things together than most couples he knew and went trekking all over the world. I bet they didn’t watch TV then. But I think that would be too expensive and unrealistic a solution for most of my friends, I think I’ll go and cut their TV cables. How they live their lives for a week without TV sounds like a programme in the making.

Living on my own

When I first moved up to Glasgow, I decided it would be better to rent a place alone. I think it is the first time I have intentionally lived by myself. When I relocate for work, my employers usually arrange my accommodation, and even if I have a flat to myself, there’s always a colleague or two next door. I have enjoyed it so far, but no-one tells you how quiet it is to live alone. I’m the eldest of four children, there was always someone to annoy; a little sister to beat up, a younger brother to look after and a family to cook for. I don’t think I had the privilege of my own room until I was fourteen, and even then, there certainly wasn’t a lock, there were never any truly private spaces. Even my cat gave birth under my bed and nursed her kittens there. I moved away from the South West to live with my Grand parents whilst I studied at college. I didn’t have any privacy there either, I was lucky in the long run that I was too square for a boyfriend. I never had many chances to arrange time with the opposite of sex because I discovered that my Grand Mother eavesdropped on my telephone conversations. I caught her once standing outside my door and she claimed she had dropped her knitting. I guess I should thank her for keeping me on the straight and narrow path when it was important! However, I quickly made up for tight regulations later on. I moved out and went to college, I managed to find a place with a live in land-lady, it was my first taste of independence and I began to live life to the full. Just as I was doing that, I would meet with some kind of embarrassment at home. Initially, my landlady’s plan was to move away and study, and so she advertised her room and a new male tenant moved in. In the end she didn’t move out because they started a relationship, they went through their honeymoon phase in the bedroom above me. So far as I know, Geoff is one of unsexiest names I have heard a woman call in ecstasy. I started to date around that period and invited my boyfriend over, there we were greeted by both of them in the living room. My landlady’s boyfriend wasn’t wearing his shirt and she was squeezing the spots on his back. On another occasion, I arrived home and they had broken the bathroom sink, it came clean off the wall. I never asked why. I hope that I never fall in love with a man called Geoff, the name is tainted. Then I moved onto university, with the exception of some short contracts abroad, I never lived with a landlord or landlady again. But I still had to compromise in order to cover the rent. Some of the tenants I lived with were wonderful, others were eccentric and others, some just plain odd. One girl was sadly very ill with bulimia. It was fascinating to witness just how much food she placed in the oven. She would cook a whole tray of chips, a savoury pie, an apple pie, and two cans of spaghetti hoops all from Kwik Save. She was pretty, goal-orientated and very smart, and I never understood why she made herself ill, or how she could eat all that food from Kwik Save. Obviously, dealing with the after effects in a shared household was not comfortable. Now that I am a landlady, I take care to avoid any similarities with my old land lady. It was suggested that I might get lonely in my new flat. But I have not really had time to appreciate it because I am very busy. There’s a work out to fit in every morning before work, work already occupies a considerable amount of time. Plus, the moment I got some freedom to read whatever I liked, I returned to studying and reading all the support materials. In addition, I studied Italian, I am not sure why, I find the men to be fairly predictable and I am not planning any return visits for the meanwhile. I guess I wanted to formalise the little I had picked up on from overhearing conversations and learn more about English. I spent very little time at home; in fact someone commented I was morphing into Lisa Simpson. But I think the thing I will miss most about living on my own is doing whatever I want naked. Cooking, ironing, stepping out from the shower and then getting changed wherever I want in the flat. The best freedom of all is having sex wherever I want, even if I can’t profess to be very active. I recall almost embarrassing myself as a landlady some years ago, and rescued my dignity with some quick thinking. I have enjoyed this period of selfish living so immensely; I am not sure how I could ever be considerate again!