A few months ago, weaned as all baby boomers were on that miracle they called television, which gripped the nation from the coronation in 1953 of that teutonic lady that some call Elizabeth II of England, I started to take stock.
For most of my adult life I have watched television when I was doing nothing else and it has to be said that I probably watched it when I should have been doing something else. It was I suppose, a government sponsored soporific, sometimes interspersed with a few programmes to make you think and enjoy. But that was in the good old days when television was making its way, before the explosion that the late 1990s became. Instead of having four channels to choose from which maintained vestiges of quality, we now received 200 or 300 channels, naturally belting out unadulterated rubbish. When you spread quality which is limited over 50 or 60 times more slices of bread, the sandwich begins to taste of nothing.
So for quite a while I found that the only thing reasonably interesting to watch were the news channels. You just press a button and a heading comes up and you have at least 10 channels of news. Naturally I went for my nearest and dearest BBC 24 hour news but after a while my inquisitiveness took me to other channels, like SKY News, until I realised that this was just sensationalist clap-trap. I then moved on to Russia Today and Al Jezeera television and I quickly realised that all news came with different meanings. Depending on what head you had on, the news you chose to receive nurtured that head. The news was not the report of an actual event, it was just a story told by people with different points of view and more importantly by people who were being paid by somebody else who had an ulterior motive in mind.
It was then that I realised the news and in fact television in general was a government inspired cleansing operation of your critical faculties. At least for the few of us who have critical thoughts. For the rest it was just a soporific as I have said intermingled with drops of scaremongery.
So there I was in front of my television being fed government inspired crap and paying for the priviledge of being processed. 160 euro per annum for a licence just to turn this crap on. 840 euro per annum to watch Sky in all its glory. Unaccountable electricity charges for the juice used. I must be frigging mad, I thought. Paying out 1000 euro plus a year to be brainwashed by a bunch of greasy arsed politicians and international operators. I could use that money to buy the materials to make up a really large gin and tonic every evening and at least I would be pickling my brain with something half decent.
I immediately kicked Sky into touch, what I was learning from the Levenson Enquiry formed the death knell in my eyes for the Murdoch clan. I then looked around me at the debris that was left and more or less gave up and then the final blow came.
A request from the TV Licence Records Office in Sligo, asking me for 160 euro as my fee for watching television in Ireland. I could not even receive Irish television programmes and these people were asking me for 160 euro to watch the stuff I could not watch. It transpires that the 160 euro is not for watching television programmes but it is for a licence so that you can park a piece of electrical equipment in the corner of your living room or kitchen, whether you switch the equipment on or just look at it as a piece of modern furniture.
I came to the only decision a sane person with an active mind could come to. Fuck this for a game of soldiers I resolutely said to myself and out the door went the television set. That was a couple of months ago and I have since then made my Kindle work overtime. I have read more books these last few months than I read in the whole of the last year. It has made me into a very interesting person and not the dull, vapid arsehole I was becoming. I am no longer alarmed by news channels pressing panic and alarm buttons in my head. I am a clear thinking, happy, well-informed human being who is laughing at the rest of you dullards, who park your bottoms on the first available armchair and drift into mental vacuity every night before going to bed to be awakened by nightmares emanating from the shit you have been looking at that evening.
(I sent a copy of this blog posting to the TV Licence Records Office today under cover of a nice letter wishing them all well and feeling sorry for having lost a good friend. We will see what happens)