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.